Focus on: Cos d’Estournel 2009

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:



Tasting notes:

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:


Research Note: 2010 Lafite

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-02-11


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!



Focus on: Sassicaia

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.

Original post:

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


Focus on: Pichon Lalande 2010

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-02-05


Pichon Lalande 2010

WO Score: 94

Price: £1,300 per 12

Probably our most popular and current investment theme, derived from the outperformance generated by Burgundy in the last few years, is scarcity. This recommendation has not been generated as a result of scarcity, it comes from the old-fashioned premise that good old-fashioned merchants used to be famed for – this is bloody good stuff, it’s under-priced and it’s going up - trust us!



Looking at the chart below the relative value doesn’t appear out of kilter relative to its peer group but that is using a WO generated averaged score (of current ratings) of 94 points. Based on various tastings since the Wine Advocate et al rated this wine, members of the team here have consistently and with conviction rated this wine above its peer group and above its current critic scores. To be fair Mr. Parker, back in February ’13, allowed himself some room for improvement with a 95+. The WO team would apply the plus sign very happily.



For the sake of argument if we were to award the Pichon Lalande a score of 97 and run that number through the relative value equation, the score would be a far more enticing 30, almost as cheap as Leoville Barton – and Pichon Lalande is never as cheap as Leoville Barton!

On top of this, 2010 is becoming widely accepted as the greatest vintage of the modern era. The five first growths from 2010 currently average £7,500 per 12 and Pichon Lalande ‘82, possibly the greatest vintage the estate has produced until this one, is £7,800 per 12, so there seems plenty of room for upside!



The Great Burgundian Conundrium

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-02-04


As a couple of recent posts have alluded to, we think some of the really top end Burgundy has reached heights that might not be sustainable in the short to medium term. Over the last decade or so the Burgundy market has been the star performer:




But in the last year it has gone into interstellar overdrive:




Obviously Burgundy, and particularly the greatest names, are in short supply and the desire to have a slice of the action has had a dramatic impact on prices. But can this continue - THAT is the question!? This commentator has already sold some of the spectacularly performing big names and is reallocating the assets lower down the ladder, especially where prices are yet to move.

Last week we compared values of Clos de Beze 2010 from the Domaines of Rousseau, (Bruno) Clair and Drouhin-Laroze, all very closely rated, to find their respective price ratios to be 1 Rousseau for 13 Clair for 28 Drouhin-Laroze. This highlights the incredible disparity between certain growers and of course there will always be premia for certain names. However, the gaps have widened and some of the differentials are unjustified - opportunities abound, inter Burgundy and elsewhere. This quick comparison of a few random names suggests the currently less fashionable 1st Growth Bordeaux and even serious Rhone could be worth a look:



Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the Burgundian Conundrium and see if we can make sense of it!?


Focus on: Chambertin, Clos de Beze 2010

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-31


Domaine Bruno Clair, Chambertin, Clos de Beze 2010

WO Score: 94

Price: £3,120 per 12

Note from Burghound (93-96 points):

A spicy, pure and admirably refined nose offers up notes of cool, layered and an impressively broad mix of wild red berries, stone and underbrush hints. The textured and almost painfully intense broad-shouldered flavors possess deep reserves of tannin-buffering dry extract as well as the same extraordinary finishing depth that the nose hints at. A knock-out but this is expressly built to age and the flavors and tannic spine are so tightly wound that it's pointless to buy this if you do not intend to age it for at least 10 to 12 years first.


Domaine Drouhin-Laroze, Chambertin, Clos de Beze 2010

WO Score 96

Price: £1,410 per 12

Note from Burghound (93-95):

A spicy, ripe, elegant and admirably pure nose offers up notes of anise, sandalwood and clove that add breadth to the floral, earth and stone-suffused aromas. There is the same superb breadth to the rich, intense and tension-filled full-bodied flavors that possess excellent power and drive on the seductively textured, muscular and classy finish.




Both the Drouhin-Laroze and the Bruno Clair expressions of Clos de Beze from the blockbuster 2010 look attractive at current levels with the less fashionable Drouhin-Laroze really standing out - there are a few cases in the market too. Both get great scores across the board from the critics and have not kept pace with the sizzling Burgundy index (Drouhin-Laroze in light blue) over the last three years:




Whilst seeking high quality wines that have lagged the Burgundy market, these two have popped up as good candidates. More and more market watchers will be searching for this type of opportunity, so some catch up is expected. Neither have hit their drinking stride yet but when the scarcity kicks in, will it be possible to source them when they do? I doubt it.

Although it is not comparing like with like, Rousseau’s take on this famous piece of dirt, (rated at 94-97) at £40,000 per 12, is probably fully valued and I for one would be making a switch! Putting it another way you can buy 28.5 bottles of the Drouhin-Laroze product for one of dear Monsieur Rousseau’s! The Clair to Rousseau ratio a more modest 1:13, but still!?


Focus on: Sassicaia

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-25


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

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


Focus on: Haut Brion 1990-2006

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-24


Haut Brion has always been referred to the connoisseur’s choice amongst the upper echelon and indeed it averages the highest scores across multiple vintages within its peer group. Yet strangely, and more often than not, it trades at a discount to its peers.

Looking at this Relative Value Score the 2006 (£3,500 per 12) stands out but good investment rationale can be argued for the ’90, ’95, ’96, and ’01 also.

The case for the ’90 (£8,900) is that it is currently trading at its widest ever discount to its chart-topping sibling of ’89 (£25,000) and the scarcity force is strong!

1995 (£4,300) because it’s getting on a bit now, is not that challenging in price terms and is drinking very nicely, as personally witnessed at Thanksgiving.

Last week the ’96 (£4,200), in my view a better wine than the ‘95, gave an effortless history lesson in classicism and has a long and charming life ahead. It was allowed five hours in the decanter which was richly rewarded and is a stupendous wine albeit not so overtly fruit driven as Mouton ’96, but that wine is £1,000 more per case at a similar rating level.

The ’01 is £3,700, so very low for a first growth and has been drinking well for some time. Its relative value score above 8 makes it look interesting.

The giants of ’05, ’09 and ’10 are exactly that and deserve to trade in another price bracket altogether. This commentator’s view, however, is that’s where they will stay for the time being and price performance in the short to medium term will evade them, as it has done in recent times:

Buy: Haut Brion ’90, ’95, ’96, ’01 and ‘06

Sell: Haut Brion ’05, ’09 and ‘10

Haut Brion 2000 will be included in a separate post.


Focus on: Haut Brion 2006

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-23


WO Score: 96

Price: £3,500 per 12

Haut Brion 2006 is cheap, working relatively on a vertical basis by comparing it to other similarly rated vintages of Haut Brion and also on a horizontal basis, comparing it to its first growth peers. Its absolute relative score of very close to 10 is a leading indicator - anything in double figures for a first growth positively screams a buy. This falls marginally short of that magical figure but its consistent notes and firm scoring of 96 gives it a buy recommendation.


Focus on: Bordeaux legends from the 80s and 1990

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2019-01-21


Latour ’82, Mouton Rothschild ’82, Mouton Rothschild ’82, ’86, Haut Brion ’89, La Mission Haut Brion ’89, Margaux ’90, Cheval Blanc ’90 and Pichon Baron ‘90

When managing two wine investment funds (2006-2016) we referred to this subsection of the portfolio as ‘the legends‘. They all received cast iron reviews from all the major critics and rock solid and multiple 100s from Big Bob. Cheval Blanc ’90 “unequivocally a brilliant wine” (Neal Martin) has slipped a little to a 98+, but otherwise these wines are confirmed as truly great – legendary in fact! As such, they don’t come cheap (prices in GBP per bottle in graphic below).

Latour and Mouton ’82, +46% and 38% in 2018 respectively, Haut Brion and La Mission ’89 +35% and +52% respectively and Margaux ’90 +35% have all broken out and have massively outperformed the index in the last few months. I believe they can continue to yield positive returns.




Scarcity has been the big driver of price rises in the last couple of years as demonstrated most ably by Burgundy (WO Burgundy Index +33% for 2018, +16% in 2017). This is a prime example of how the principle of good demand versus limited supply in the wine market can work. As a region Burgundy has thrashed others as production is so much smaller, especially with Bordeaux in comparison. Where Bordeaux has been able to compete is in these older vintages of legendary wines, where consumption has driven a scarcity of supply. Each case that is now opened will have a direct impact on that side of the equation.




Cheval ’90 has been volatile but is generally on the up and is well worth considering. I have included Pichon Baron ’90, only a 98+ according to Neal Martin but a Steven Spurrier legend, as it is so relatively cheap and has not broken out at all, so watch this space. The really obvious choice, however, is Mouton ’86. This wine at 32+ years is still a baby in terms of maturity but has an exciting life ahead. Its backwardness has had an impact on the wine’s supply but that will change. As ever good provenance is extremely important and as this is a wine that has been traded more than most so beware - we have seen many examples of poor condition. If this can be found in good nick, do not hesitate in acquiring it - it’s a legend!

Recommendation

Buy: Mouton ’86, Cheval Blanc ’90, Pichon Baron ‘90

Hold: if it’s a legend, continue to hold, for now at least…

N.B. Petrus ’89 and ’90 fall into the ‘legend’ definition but they are so expensive (c.£45,000 per 12) and rare, they have been excluded here.

Miles Davis - professional wine consultant working in the fine wine market. He has been a wine collector for thirty years and managed wine investment funds between 2006-17 for Wine Asset Managers LLP.


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