by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-09-09
August was much like July with summer holidays being the prime concern for most people. The wider market has felt quiet, maybe because the Bordeaux market is still largely flat, but there are definitely pockets of excitement about and the broad-based Wine Owners Index was up 0.9%. Trade was brisk with Piedmont, Tuscany and Champagne dominating turnover at Wine Owners.
The solid, relative value investment case for the wines of Piedmont has created demand which, in turn, has led to us step up our sourcing efforts. Liquidity is tight, obviously one of the plus points in the investment case, but we have managed to unearth some lovely parcels, particularly some legendary Bartolo Mascarello vintages.
Sterling has remained weak due to the Brexit shenanigans, and this has finally translated into some positive moves for various wine indices. As we know, a weaker pound generally leads to increased demand in the sterling denominated secondary fine wine market, especially from U.S.$ based buyers. Little has come out of Asia, however, as continuing rhetoric surrounding the U.S./China trade wars rumble on and Hong Kong is still suffering from the most vocal political protests in its modern history. They (the people of Honk Kong) have even appealed to Mr. Trump to help!
The largest region within the wine market will always be Bordeaux and it is business in the wines of Bordeaux that is suffering the most from these continuing issues. Many of the other top wine regions are less affected by these global events and market conditions as the wines are less traded, and the supply and demand ratio in a different place. Bordeaux has been looking cheap versus its peers for some time now, and there’s a lot of bad news in the price but the stars need to start aligning. This can and will happen, but when is the big question!
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-08-20
A brief and holiday interrupted report for activity in July
The wine market continues to hold its breath. Boris fulfils (what somehow now feels like) his destiny and moves into Number 10 and the pound plummets. It has since recovered a bit but even so, the wine market didn't flinch. As we know, a weaker pound generally leads to increased demand in the sterling denominated secondary fine wine market, especially from U.S.$ based buyers, but maybe not during the hot days of summer? Certainly not when the U.S./China trade wars rumble on, the rhetoric becoming ever stronger, and most definitely not when Hong Kong explodes into the most violent scenes of pro-democracy protest in its modern history. The Brexit backdrop adds to the confusion, so no wonder little happens.
The largest market within wine will always be Bordeaux and it is business in the wines of Bordeaux that is suffering the most from this continued malaise. Many of the other top wine regions are less affected by these global events and market conditions as the wines are more scarce, with the supply and demand ratio is in a different place. Bordeaux has been looking cheap versus its peers for some time now, but the stars need to start aligning. This can and will happen, but when is the big question!
Despite these almost stagnant overtones, trade has never been brisker with July setting a record level of turnover. Numbers of users, bids and offers forever grow. Collectors looking to trim positions have been well accommodated by others adding and reorganising their cellars, something we are seeing a lot more of.
Burgundy continues to look for its feet, Champagne and Super Tuscans gently hum along nicely, and we’ve seen a little demand for some of the new world too.
Here at Wine Owners, Barolo dominated trading in July. Many vintages of Bartolo Mascarello changed hands, also many Bruno Giacosas, Riservas and otherwise. Fratelli Alessandria becomes ever more popular, as does Luciano Sandrone. And there were some big-ticket trades in Monfortino and Ca d’Morissio.
Miles Davis, 20th August 2019
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-06-17
Neal Martin Score: 96-98
Price: £1,150 per 12
Vieux Chateau Certan (VCC) needs very little introduction and in recent years it has been shooting the lights out. Its reputation as a superstar is confirmed yet it still seems to be going from strength to strength. This is clearly attributable to the stewardship of the popular and modest Alexandre Thienpont. The last ten vintages have averaged a score of 96 – that is remarkable in itself.
We have identified the 2011 as an excellent opportunity to achieve exposure to this magnificent estate at a really attractive price level (only the disastrous 2013 vintage is cheaper, and only just). The wine came to the market at £1,075 per 12 in 2012 and is now £1,150. Post release the price slid to c.£950 before moving up by c.20% between the between ’16 and ’18. The weak Brexit pound was responsible for c. 10% of that and in the last eighteen months the price has barely moved.
There is a reason for the cheap price, it was a difficult vintage and Mr. Parker scored the wine with a paltry 91 points. We think he’s got it wrong – and so do many others. Neal Martin scores it 96-98, James Suckling and Tim Atkin 96 and James Lawther MW 19.
The 2009 and 2010 vintages Parker scored 99 points and were presumably a bit more in keeping with his tastes. These vintages contained no Cabernet Franc, even though the vineyards are planted 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2011 contains 29% Cabernet Franc and as Neal Martin comments “this is more what I consider to be a classic VCC nose, unlike those previous vintages (’09 and ’10) that gives you everything up front, this is far more intellectual and enigmatic.... and are perhaps one day, even better ”. Not bad at half the price!
This chart uses only Neal Martin’s scores – if you believe in the critic, the data does the rest of the talking for you:
2011 was not a great Bordeaux vintage and suffered as it came behind the (over- priced) blockbusters of ’09 and ’10. En primeur was not working at all at that time and to add to the woe, timing also coincided with the ‘Great Wall of China Corruption Clampdown’ meaning the market was already in an unusual state of flux.
Pomerol is widely regarded as the appellation of the vintage. VCC ’11 has been described by some as wine of the vintage and by others as wine of the right bank. Either way, a slice of a potentially great VCC for under £100 a bottle has plenty of upside potential. The ’10 and ’16 are both in excess of £220 a bottle.
Here are Nick Martin’s comments following a 2011 dinner last year:
Vieux Chateau Certan 2011 is the last vintage - prior to 2018 - with a substantial percentage of Cabernet Franc in the blend at a whopping 29%.
Alexandre Thienpont believes this to be a great vintage but in a less exotic, full-on style than 2010 or 2009.
Yet it remains properly intense and rich, thanks to low yields of 37 hl/ ha that contributed to a wine with a high IPT count of 83 (phenolics that give structure and colour...the guts of a wine), rivalling the IPT levels of producers’ wonderful 2016s. Furthermore it’s vibrant and mouthwatering with a conventionally fresh ph of 3.50.
Whilst initially tight, VCC 2011 unfurls with 3 hours in the decanter, has a beautifully harmonious mid palate that evolves in the glass quite dramatically, and sports a finish that goes on and on. It can be consumed with great pleasure at a leisurely pace now yet will continue to improve over the next 20 to 30 years.
Cedar, a medley of briar fruit and griottes, a vein of intensely fresh orange, mineral earthiness and background spice notes are elements of a kaleidoscopic tasting experience that segues between the myriad nuanced flavours and makes for a thril- ling experience.
Tasted comparatively with a dozen other top 2011 Crus, the only wine in the line up that got remotely close to VCC’s complexity and overall class was La Mission Haut Brion.
Neal Martin’s tasting note from the Wine Advocate:
The Vieux Chateau Certan was cropped between 6th and 7th of September and from 14th until 20th September. That's what you'll read everywhere, although I was filming Alexandre when he was picking the final Cabernet around the 29th September! Cropped at 37hl/ha, it is a blend of 70% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and (yay!) 29% Cabernet Franc. It delivers 13.6 degrees alcohol with a total acidity of 3.5gms/L and an IPT of 83. After the Cabernet Francless 2009 and 2010, this is more what I consider to be a classic VCC nose and as Alexandre, unlike those previous vintages that gives you everything up front, this is far more intellectual and enigmatic with hints of mineral laden fruit, limestone and small dark cherries. It is beautifully defined yet distant. The palate is succinctly balanced with crisp acidity, exceptional balance and superb backbone. There is an undercurrent of masculinity, a saline tincture, cru- shed stone and a touch of dried herbs and yet these are just fleeting hints. It has enormous length and it is one of the very few that could be on the same ethereal plateau as the 2009 and 2010 and perhaps one day...even better. Tasted April 2012.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-06-10
Today we see the release of the 2010 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. At £195 per six and with years of maturation already in the bank, this wine represents terrific value, especially when compared to some of the recent en primeur releases from further north (Bordeaux). The 2010 has an absolutely massive Wine Owner’s Relative Value Score of 111, (see chart attached). Tim Atkin awards 97 points and comments “Savoury wild herb notes segue into a palate that's focused, balanced and graceful with the concentration and backbone to age. 2019-35”.
Purely from an investment perspective these wines only appreciate in price quite some time after release, when scarcity starts to kick in as demonstrated here with the excellent 2001 vintage (attached).
Conclusion: buy with a view to drinking but see what happens!
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-04-16
Italia! From the the country that has given us espresso and cappuccino, ciabatta and focaccia, minestrone and spaghetti, Maldini and Rossi, Pavarotti and Verdi, Canaletto and Leonardo da Vinci, Ferraris and Maseratis, Bunga Bunga, the Mafia and the Pope, we now have… un'opportunità di investimento – nel mondo del vino!!
The Italians are not only the largest wine producing country in the world, they have been making wine for over four thousand years and cultivate over two thousand grape varieties on a multitude of different soils in twenty different regions! They are not bad at food either. Their climate seems to suit most of the finer things in life.
Italian wine being recommended is nothing new, but having it recommended as a collectable asset bearing an investment case is another matter. Ten years or so ago, a few canny collectors realised some of the ‘Super Tuscans’ (red wines typically made of a Bordeaux blend in Tuscany) such as Masseto, Ornellaia, Sassicaia (see recent blog post) and Solaia were ripe for decent returns. Traditionalists were a bit put out by these glossy new pretenders turning up on the Italian wine scene with their fancy French grape varieties and lots of marketing but it is fair to say they have helped the overall attention given to Italy and, as a result, the ‘Bs’ are blossoming – namely, Barolo, Barbaresco and, to a lesser extent, Brunello.
Wines from the best producers of Italy’s most venerable regions have been collected by the cognoscenti for years but now their appeal is becoming more widespread. The problems of Bordeaux, following an explosive China-driven period, have been well documented in the last decade and although we are quietly confident on a comeback from the sleeping giant, the smaller top-quality regions have been profiting. The indices for cult Californian (+98%) and beautiful Burgundy (+135%) have both gone berserk in the last five years, whilst Piedmont has gained a more modest 78%, with Tuscany posting +50%.
The reason for Burgundy and California’s performance is that old tried and tested wine world fundamental of demand outstripping supply - who knew!?? Both these regions produce tiny quantities in comparison to the number of people looking to access these markets and gain exposure. The complex nature of these regions with tiny vineyards, often co-owned by different families and winemakers, has added to the gloss and mystery, spurring on newcomers to learn more and invest time and money accordingly. More of the written word is more easily accessible to interested folk, and with platforms such as Wine Owners to trade on, the visibility of the product and the liquidity of the commodity has increased.
Grand Nebbiolo from Piedmont is yet to hit the big time, apart from a few, but there are more than rumblings in other names; dedicated collectors and the inquisitive are homing in. It is a Burgundian-like network of vineyards, producers, families and reputations and you need to know what you are doing. Famous names like Conterno, for example, have six listings in my favourite reference book: Aldo, Diego, Fantino, Franco, Giacomo (the big one) and Paolo.
Some of the bigger names like Giacomo Conterno famed for his Montfortino vineyard, Giuseppe Rinaldi, famed for Brunate and Tre Tine, Bartolo Mascarello and Gaja are already highly sought after superstars with prices to match but there are a host of others with reputations and demand beginning to swell; Brovia, Cappellano, Fratelli Alessandria, Sandrone, Voerzio and Vietti to name a few.
The ‘Super Tuscans’ of Bolgheri are much simpler to understand, like Bordeaux versus Burgundy, and are produced in larger numbers. The names mentioned earlier are virtually household names (in wine terms!) and are less exciting right now overall. Brunello di Montalcino, made from Sangiovese, is also comparatively easy to piece together in relation to Piedmont. Biondi Santi, Poggio di Sotto, Salvioni and Soldera are the big names with the fancy price tags. The secondary market for Brunello has not yet developed so, for now at least, it is a case of keeping a watchful eye.
There have been some excellent vintages in the last decade or so, attracting fantastic media coverage and battle-weary Bordeaux buyers. Another reason for favouring Italian wines in the current climate is that the U.S. and Germany are the biggest export markets, so unlikely to be affected by any potential fallout from Brexit. Most of all, however, these wines are barely scratching the Asian surface as yet and we all know what happens when that changes!
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-03-14
2007 £1,300 per 6 WO Score 96
2010 £2,100 per 6 WO Score 100
Bartolo Mascarello is one of the true legends of Barolo, think Rousseau or Roumier in Burgundy terms, in case you’re not familiar with the ‘Knights of Nebbiolo’. And if that’s still confusing, think Liverpool (Football Club), but I would say that, wouldn’t I? In fact, to be drawn against Juve tomorrow morning could easily inspire a trip to Piedmont, with a bit more than hazelnuts to look forward to! I digress…
Maria-Teresa Mascarello took over from Bartolo, her father, in 1993, the estate having been founded in 1918. Beautifully simple in its creation, the wine is a blend of four of the top crus, or vineyards and has been consistently and spectacularly successful for decades.
In the charts above and below we have compared various well-regarded vintages of a similar era. These vintages are very good and very scarce, two of the most important factors for investors as they are squirreled away by the canniest collectors and prices have been rising. They are still a fraction of their Burgundian cousins however and we have no issue with recommending a buy, particularly the ’07 and the ’10, the cheapest relative value bets here:
Tasting notes, courtesy of Vinous Media:
2007: Mascarello’s 2007 Barolo shows just how compelling this vintage can be, even now. Sensual, layered and totally voluptuous in the glass, the 2007 shows the more flamboyant side of Barolo. I find the wine’s voluptuous, engaging personality impossible to resist. Sure, 2007 is not a classic vintage, but when a wine is this good, I say: Who cares?
2010: The 2010 Barolo is one of the most striking, hauntingly beautiful wines I have ever tasted here. Mysterious and slow to show its cards, the 2010 impresses for its inner perfume, sweetness and exceptional overall balance. Today the striking fruit and classic, austere elements of the vintage take turns in dominating the wine's balance. The 2010 was always magnificent in barrel. It is equally spectacular from bottle. Readers who can find the 2010 should not hesitate. Ideally I wouldn't dream of touching a bottle until age 15 or so, although I doubt I will personally have the discipline to follow my own advice!
The 2007 is the cheaper option from a classic vintage and the 2010 is the turbo charge version from the all-conquering 2010 vintage. Both are recommended.
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-28
Following recent ’10 years on’ tastings, one held at Bordeaux Index whilst the ‘Southwold group’ met at Farr Vintners, there have been various write ups, reports and blogs appearing. Jane Anson’s write up in Decanter can be found here, Farr Vintner’s Chairman Stephen Browett’s blog here and the mighty Joss Fowler on Vinolent here.
The initial reaction from the time, which can so often can be over-hyped, has now been confirmed (which is nice) – this really is ‘a vintage of the century’! Most people view it alongside the famous 2005 vintage in terms of overall quality although the ’05 is regarded as a rather more grown up vintage with the ’09 being a more confident and flamboyant younger sibling. In due course and following years of maturation, they will both have to overcome 2010 and 2016 for the absolute title and neither of these two are going to be pushed over lightly. As well as being exceptional, 2009 was a consistent vintage and did well on the left and right although it has now showed a tad disappointingly in Sauternes, certainly when compared to earlier indications.
The following wines have been mentioned in more than one dispatch from respected commentators so have made it into this condensed list of really top picks, with market price scores (MPS) and relative value scores (RVS) to follow:
St. Emilion: Ausone, Canon, Cheval Blanc and Pavie
Pomerol: Le Pin, Petrus, Le Gay
Pessac-Leognan: Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Fieuzal, Smith Haut Lafitte and Pape Clement
Margaux: Margaux, Palmer, Rauzan Segla (and 2nd wine Segla), Issan
St. Julien: Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferré, St. Pierre (big surprise)
Pauillac: Latour (strong claims for WotV), Lafite, Mouton, Grand Puy Lacoste, The Pichons and Pontet Canet
St. Estephe: Montrose, Lafon Rochet, Les Ormes de Pez
Medoc: Cantemerle, Bernadotte
Broken into comparable peer groups, starting with the stratospheric right bank set:
The first growths are still below their release prices and continue to underperform both the WO150 index (not surprisingly, given Burgundy’s ascent) and the WO Bordeaux Index. They will outperform at some stage, but we don’t think it is yet judging by the supply side of the equation.
Generally speaking, a relative value score (RVS) in double figures for a first growth signals a buy, so nothing doing here.
And now on to the arguably more interesting second liners. It is interesting to note that they have not suffered from the over-priced releases (compounded by some crazy speculation shortly after) in the same way as the first growths and have performed much better in the secondary market as a result, many generating decent returns.
A lot of these wines have pleased the critics and are punching way above their £££ weight. Look how the relative value scores reach double figures and soar. A score of over 20 for this group should cause a loud bark of approval.
And now on to the real cheapies, which will make for exceptionally lovely wines at really attractive prices, mainly for the drinker but with some likely upside on the prices of the posher names to be enjoyed too!
A special mention should go to Grand Puy Lacoste (RVS 37.6), a Grand Vin from grand appellation (Pauillac) from a lovely branch of grand Bordeaux family. The wine came in first equal with Pichon Baron (21.3) and not that far behind Latour (4.3)! it even looks cheap in this ‘lowly group’ here!
We have covered the ‘marmite’ wine that is Cos d’Estournel ’09 here and have come down on the side of the .
You can argue the case to buy any of the wines listed in this post, given the quality of the vintage, but here is the Strong Buy list:
Croix de Beaucaillou
For drinkers and investors alike:
Grand Puy Lacoste
And if money is no object:
Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Le Pin and Petrus
Latour, Haut Brion and Margaux
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-12
Cos d’Estournel 2009
Robert Parker: 100
Lisa Perrotti-Brown: 100
Neal Martin: 91
Jancis Robinson: 16.5,17,17.5
Price: £2,400 per 12
The crux of the matter here appears to be the U.S. of A. versus the U. of K. Big Bob wades in with the magic three digits (100 points) whilst Mr. Martin offers a much more modest 91 points. Our very own Mr. Martin’s words on this wine are not fit to publish. L. P-B. doffs her cap to her superior with another magic number whilst Jancis sways in a middle sort of division, yet she correctly describes it as famously controversial. So, it’s fair to say: the jury is out!
The early intelligence (thanks go to Bordeaux Index) and the biggest story from their last week’s ten years on tasting is that Cos was the big disappointment (Chateau Margaux was the star performer). Looking at the chart below there appears to be a huge amount more potential downside than upside, the ’09 being more expensive than anything in its peer group and what is the score?? Everyone seems to like the ’16, especially Mr. Martin, not best known and normally associated with magic numbers but attributing it to this vintage with gusto! Likewise, the ’10, not perfection but very highly rated. Both trading at close to £1,700 per 12- without the controversy.
The 2009 price has substantially underperformed the Wine Owners Bordeaux Index, perhaps because it has always split the camps:
RP: One of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted, the monumental 2009 Cos d’Estournel has lived up to its pre-bottling potential. The wine hits the palate with extraordinary purity, balance and intensity as well as perfect equilibrium, and a seamless integration of tannin, acidity, wood and alcohol. An iconic wine as well as a remarkable achievement, it is the greatest Cos d’Estournel ever produced.
LP-B: Wow—the full-bodied palate bursts with powerful, hedonic black fruit preserves and spices, completely coating the mouth with decadent fruits that are perfectly framed by very firm yet very ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing with a veritable firework display of floral, spice and red fruit notes. Just stunning.
NM: It is glossy, dare I say almost “slutty”. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins on the entry. There is good weight and volume to this wine, the Merlot more expressive than elsewhere with a lovely rich, decadent, weighty finish that is a hedonistic treat, but chooses not to translate the terroir of this great property. I prefer the 2010!
JR (a selection gleaned from 3 different notes): A youthful wine still dominated by tannins. First-growth structure. Bone dry. Classic-issimo. Went downhill in the glass however. Exotic but overdone. Alcohol intrudes. Awkward tasting experience. The tannins stick out. This continues to be a difficult wine. Famously controversial wine, one of the latest picked. Hugely ripe on the nose with a streak of very astringent dryness on the end. Scrubbing brush effect. A very extreme wine that strikes me as pretty brutal at the moment. Doesn't follow through; just stops on the palate rather than delivering any lingering finish. But it may all come together eventually...?
Recommendation: Sell ’09 and switch into the far less controversial vintages ’00, ’05, ’10 or ’16.
Relative value chart with other highly rated vintages of Cos d’Estournel:
If you’re looking to buy some Lafite
, the 2010 vintage
looks like reasonable value, given we are talking the brand that is Lafite. It achieves the highest WO score of 98
(extraordinarily high given our rather ‘mean’ methodology) and it comes from the vintage that is establishing itself as the pinnacle of the modern era, perhaps to be challenged by ’16 but that hasn’t been confirmed as yet.
If we brought the price down to the level we can actually offer at (£7,225 net per 12 as opposed to the chart price of £7,475), the Relative Value Score rises to above 6 – cheap for Lafite!
by Wine Owners
Posted on 2019-02-11
Sassicaia 2006, 94 points £2,050 per 12
Sassicaia 2009, 96 points £1,590 per 12
Sassicaia 2010, 94 WO points £1,430 per 12
Sassicaia 2015, 97 points £1,750 per 12
Sassicaia 2016, 100 points (WA) £2,700 now, released yesterday at £1,270!
I am now editing this blog originally written on the 25th January as yesterday saw the release of Sassicaia ’16
. Monica Larner of the Wine Advocate
heaped the magical three digit score and a boat load of praise meaning it sold out in seconds (she does hold sway!). I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall of Armit’s office yesterday as the phones must have been red (pun intended) hot! If, like she says it will, the ’16 turns out to be just as good and valuable as the ’85 vintage, 31 years from now, that would yield a most respectable 8% CAGR
(compound average growth rate). One should take note, however, that the price of the ’85 more than doubled in the last three years so buyer’s beware! I repeat my recommendations from before.
When we began researching Sassicaia for this post we began by thinking it would turn out be a good and solid egg. We were right. Other than the stratospheric and legendary 100 point ’85, now c.£30,000 per 12, up from £12,000 three long years ago, Sassicaia is a really steady holding. It’s a wine that gets drunk readily, is approachable at a younger age than most investment grade wines and doesn’t tend to get dumped in a downturn.
The 2015 is another exception to this generalisation, not least because last November it claimed the coveted Wine Spectator’s ‘Wine of the Year’ 2018, causing the price to do this:
It is interesting to note that the Wine Advocate’s upgrade from 91-93 to 97 points in February 2018 had no lasting impact on price – do they not influence this corner of the market, we wonder?
In an efficient market, there’s a great short to mid-term switch play here, selling '15 and buying the cheaper and older ’09 or ’10 vintage where supply is shrinking faster. This is the wine market though, and trades like these not always play out. Judging from the price of the ’06, there is sufficient upside to these two vintages to suggest a purchase, especially if conservative is your thing!
The younger 2013 also looks cheap (but much more plentiful):
Buy: 2009, 2010, 2013
Trading sell: 2015
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