Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés Tasting 2017-2020

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-10-25

On Wednesday Luke and I attended the Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés tasting, a group of Bordeaux Châteaux showing their 2017-2020 vintages in Dean’s Yard in sunny Westminster. Like most tastings there were more wines than I could do justice to, so I decided to taste the much hyped 2019 vintage from each Château rather than covering a range of vintages. Also I had tasted the 18s in situ and found them (massive generalisation coming...) too over blown and/or hot for my taste.

For those who need a quick reminder, 2019 was released in Lockdown 1 when fear was gripping the globe and the end of the world was nigh! It took a global pandemic for the Bordelais to offer us their wine en primeur at an attractive price and some discounts were in the region of 20-30% compared to the 2018 release prices. This brought about one of the busiest campaigns in a decade. The 2020 campaign was far less interesting as prices were largely back to normal and made it difficult to justify an en primeur purchase, especially when compared to 2019.

Samples were dispatched in little bottles to critics in all corners, some didn’t arrive and there were even reports of wines sitting on tarmac in the sunshine as delivery men kept their distance. Although there were issues that Covid had brought us, the resounding message was clear: it was a very good vintage.

And I am very pleased to report that it is indeed a very good vintage, in my opinion. Canon, Pontet Canet and Montrose all received ‘very well polished’ notes in my book. Mondotte was extremely good too, as was Branaire Ducru, Canon La Gaffeliere less so. Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre is a tidy second wine as is L’Hospitalet de Gazin.

Luke was more diligent than me, tasting across the vintages and he reported that 19s shone out in this peer group. More research is required but there must be some really good value 2019s out there and becoming physical in the next few months.

Side note: Montrose ‘05 disappointed, not for the first time. My views were supported by a prominent Bordelais character as we tasted side by side a couple of years ago.

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2017 - very refreshing!

We are looking forward to tasting a wider range of 2019s at the larger Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2019 Vintage Tasting in a couple of weeks time, and shall report back with our findings.

Miles 07798 732 543

Full list of Châteaux

Château Branaire-Ducru

Château Canon

Château Canon La Gaffeliere

Château d’Aiguilhe

Château Gazin

Château Guiraud

Château Le Crock

Château Leoville Poyferre

Château Montrose

Château Moulin Riche

Château Pontet Canet

Château Rauzan Segla

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Clos de L’Oratoire

La Mondotte

Wine Market Investment Report Third Quarter 2021 - A look at the bigger picture

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-10-13

By Miles Davis

Welcome back, I hope you all had a lovely summer. I did not; being confined to UK holidays this year, I was devoid of any real sunshine, so thank the heavens for the wine market! The climate in the wine market is just about perfect at the moment; not too hot, but nice and warm with the odd blistering day. No storms around too, it’s just lovely, so we wonder how long this can last?

Wine Owners

For this question, we turn to our history books; the major corrections in the wine market have come on the back of macro events. In the 70s it was the oil crisis (when the brewer Bass Charrington dumped hundreds of cases (of 12) of Mouton Rothschild at sub £100 a case, apparently), in the 80s it was the ’87 stock market crash, the 90s the Asian currency crisis in ’97, and in the noughties of course it was the ‘Credit crunch’, as we call it in the UK, the global financial crisis in other quarters. When these events happened, obviously long before screen prices were commonplace, panic selling ensued, and prices were marked down. In reverse order:

Wine Owners

Some may notice I haven’t included the great sell off that commenced in 2011, lasting until 2016, the market falling c.30% in the meantime. That is because it was not a market wide phenomenon, it only applied to the red wines of Bordeaux, which admittedly, had been over 90% of the market back then. It is now 35-40%. Neither had it been caused by a macro event, but by the anti-graft campaign led by the new Chinese President Xi Jinping. This was also why it was a very long and drawn-out correction which, in my view, we are only coming out of now, a decade later. The ‘Red Obsession’ (did anyone see the film? A most enjoyable trailer can be enjoyed here. It could have been called ‘Top of the market’!) became the ‘Red Depression’ and Bordeaux was left languishing, casting a long shadow over the industry.

Wine Owners

That depression had been caused by hyper price inflation (c.2005-2011), and a massive imbalance of supply over genuine demand. The explosion of one-tracked dodgy ‘investment specialists’ compounded this problem also. I am pleased to report that this market is not burdened with either of these same elements today.

There is a new wave of investor about, however, but a far more sophisticated breed. The type that conducts research, employs science, looks further afield than just the obvious and is making more and more of the market investible by helping to create a sturdier secondary market. The greater breadth and depth of the market is to be welcomed as this lends itself to a greater number of opportunities with a more diversified risk profile.

So, without the over-inflated price levels, except for Burgundy perhaps (but that is another story), without the cold calling clan, and with a more diversified market it will take a global crisis to slow this tanker down.

The old-fashioned tenet prevalent in the world of fine wine of limited supply set against ever increasing demand is back, and it is working well.

It is also worth noting that recent negative events, particularly the outbreak of Covid 19, only caused the market to draw breath rather than correct. I read this as another pointer to the market maturing; overpriced wines still go down but there is no need for sharp mark downs.

The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index* received a lot of media coverage recently, reaching the national press; Decanter covered it here. Fine wine (+13%) outperformed other luxury assets such as watches (+5%), cars (+4%), art and jewellery but none of these numbers are overly demanding.

On a less macro level, Burgundy and Champagne are currently leading the charge but the Rhone, Bordeaux, most of Italy and the Rest of the World are all travelling nicely.

If you would like to discuss this, your own portfolio or anything else related, please feel free to call me.

Miles Davis, 07798 732 543

*Wine price data supplied by Wine Owners

Super Sass and Top Tig!

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2021-10-06

By Miles Davis

Our Super Tuscan 80 index is up 8.4% over the last year and has proved to be a lovely warm place to be over the last five years, +67%. Before that it was largely flat as the graph below demonstrates. This is yet further evidence of how the wine market has broadened out as consumers and investors become more savvy.

Wine Owners

In the last few years Sassicaia and Tignanello have been bomb proof. As discussed in our report at the beginning of 2020, they are brands that just ‘work’; they have a huge following in the U.S. and just about everywhere these days, the wines are investable, collectible and downright drinkable. They appear on a lot of restaurant wine lists too. Immediately recognisable, not too cheap (importantly) and not too expensive, they are very high scoring and offer sumptuous early drinking pleasure but can mature magnificently also. Masseto too, ‘the Petrus’ of Italy, being 100% Merlot, has performed brilliantly, the 2015 and ’16 both up c.20% over the last year despite its £500+ a bottle price.

Wine Owners

Ornellaia, Solaia and Guado al Tasso have been no slouches either, but the crown currently belongs to the aforementioned Sass and Tig, as they are known to their friends!

Wine Owners

These names are the royalty of the Super Tuscan landscape, but some attention needs to be turned to the likes of Cepparello, Galatrona, Grattamacco, Redigaffi, Testamatta, and Tua Rita, amongst others… to be continued….

As always, please feel free to call to discuss.

Miles Davis, 07798 732 543

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