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


Fine wine investment strategies

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-09-19


This is an extract of Wine Owners' Collecting and Investing in Fine Wine guide. You can download if for free here.


Short-term? Long-term?

Generally speaking, wine investments perform best over a minimum period of around 5 years.

There is no single ‘right answer’ of course. Some very active collectors sell and reinvest as soon as they see a fixed return, following speculative market momentum. Other collectors tend to hold for long periods of time— and although they may go through periods of flat or negative growth, typically they benefit from shifts in supply and demand; when demand pulls significantly ahead of supply, prices tend to move sharply reflecting that imbalance. Longer-term strategies may also benefit from partial realisation of profits to mitigate the risks of re-ratings.

Wine has periods of both high and low performance, just like any other investment class. Medium- and long-term holds tend to perform more consistently as a result. They also give investors the option to enjoy matured wines (i.e drink rather than sell), if their financial circumstances improve such that personal enjoyment of the wine becomes more significant than the financial value of selling it.



Vintage follower vs. perennial buyer

A common refrain among some investors is “the best wines from the best vintages”. It’s practically a matter of pride having exclusively the best wines in their portfolios.

However, this approach does not fit with the reality of how buyers are allocated wine at first release by merchants. Nor is it necessarily a good idea.

With Bordeaux, this ‘best-vintages-only’ policy is relatively easy to maintain. There is no particular need to buy off-vintages because the wines are produced in volume, and are widely distributed.

But things are different for scarcity-led markets such as top Burgundy, Barolo and cult Californians. Here, supply is low, demand is high and distribution channels are narrow. The net result is that suppliers can apply pressure on consumers to buy a particular wine every vintage, or else lose their right to an allocation next year. With so many customers vying for these wines, merchants can choose to give their best allocations to their best (most consistent) customers. Maintaining an allocation of these wines, therefore, requires consistent buying every vintage, irrespective of quality.

Cherry-picking vintages doesn’t always work, either. Vintages which are heavily touted initially are not always those considered the best in the fullness of time. Piedmont 1997 was considered a stellar vintage early on, but today the favour falls with less-hot vintages such as 1998, 1999 and 2001. And this works both ways; Burgundy 2002 was largely unloved at release, but has now evolved into one of the all-time greats.


Relative value picking 

Identifying value is vital for both short- and long-term performance. How do you select which new releases to pick, or determine which vintages of a wine represent the best value?

Picking the best prospects is now simple. Use relative value analysis to find sweet spots between market pricing and (carefully weighted) critic ratings.

To determine whether Le Pin 2017 is a sensible en primeur purchase, the analysis below compares it with four earlier vintages. The Relative Value Score shows that 2017 is a more attractive buy than the higher-rated 2015 and 2016 vintages. It also confirms that 2012 offers better value (at current market prices, factoring in current critic ratings) than any of the other four vintages.


This is an extract of Wine Owners' Collecting and Investing in Fine Wine guide. You can download if for free here.


Rioja Rocking

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-05-02


There comes a moment in the evolution of every market where all the stars are aligned. Last week a bottle of CVNE Vina Real 1959 sold on an online auction for 905 euros.

One might well ask what this has to do with investing in (comparatively) young Rioja to make the best returns. What it confirmed to me was that the home market, Spain was back.

After several years in the doldrums the Spanish economy, at least for the wine drinking classes, was back on its feet.

What has also been noticeable is that recent releases have shown that wine makers felt able to increase prices by double figure percentages. Castillo Ygay for example has seen a 15% rise from the 2007 to the current release of 2009.

Other important factor is the considerable improvement in quality since 2001.

Wines that had consistently been receiving marks around the upper 80s and low 90s began receiving marks in the mid to upper 90s. I mention this not as a slavish follower of Parker; but as Maynard Keynes remarked investment is like a beauty contest where success is not necessarily about picking what one likes oneself but choosing what the crowd will like.

Secondly what is screamingly obvious is that Rioja is extraordinarily cheap in relation to French wines of a similar quality. Of course the market is much bigger, especially for Bordeaux, but like many markets the big returns come in the smaller markets. One only has to look at the Burgundy market over the past 20 years to see the truth in that.

Rioja prices have been suppressed by the fact that it is largely an internal market whereas Bordeaux is international.

Amongst specific choices Rioja Alta 904 and the even cheaper Vina Ardanza stand out as highly marked wines at very little purchase cost. Picking the best vintages of CVNE Imperial and Vina Real is also an inexpensive hobby. One only has to look back over recent vintages to see how rapidly all these rise in relation to their purchase cost over a 10 year period to see that returns of 200-300% are achievable. Given the Burgundy effect that could well prove very conservative…

My general advice is stick to the traditional names (making classically crafted wines) that are showing rising quality. Those in the know will note that I have not mentioned Lopez de Heridia: the reason for this most obvious of omissions is that I feel the market in their wines is so interesting as to be worth a further blog instalment.

Mike Armitage

Mike is a Wine Owners member and a long-term collector who started his cellar in the 1960s. Having witnessed the development of wine markets over the last 60 years, and a salesroom regular for several decades, Mike is well placed to spot opportunities.


Looking Forward to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2018

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2018-03-01


Next Wednesday the annual Knight Frank Wealth Report 2018 will be published. As always, the report's primary focus will be on prime real estate, wealth, investments and luxury lifestyle. The latter pair are of particular interest to Wine Owners users, and the team here at HQ.

We have specific interest in the report's wine investment section, of course. This section rests strongly on data from the Knight Frank Fine Wine Investment Index (KFFWII), a custom-built index created by Wine Owners for Knight Frank in 2015. This index of 200 investment-grade wines has provided Knight Frank with detailed market data for the past three Wealth Reports. Last year, the index really came into its own; the Wealth Report 2017 showed wine clearly out-performing all other passion assets.

Of course, we at Wine Owners HQ have a pretty fair idea of what the upcoming 2018 Wealth Report will say about the wine investment market performance. But if anything, that knowledge piques our interest even further. We are very much looking forward to seeing the report live next Wednesday.

The report can be acquired here, and we will report back here in a couple of weeks' time with the key messages, and an update on the KFFWII.





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