A report on Vintage Champagne July 2021

by CloMlr


Champagne Report 2021

(in which we discuss why this is such a good idea!)

Miles Davis, July 2021

WO Champagne 60 Index

Vintage Champagne has been a sound investment for the last ten years, with our index annualising a return of 8.6%. The index is comprised of all the top cuveés from the giants of this most celebrated of wine regions, Dom Perignon, Krug, Louis Roderer Cristal, Pol Roger, Salon, Taittinger et cetera, et cetera. Indices never contain costs but that is not something many people bother to point out!

Champagne is, quite rightly, associated with luxury, celebrations, and fun, and is a genuine mood lifter. It is sprayed across crowds, associated with brazen displays of wealth in society hot spots, served at all manner of celebratory events, whilst also being adored by genuine connoisseurs – it finds a home across multiple layers of society and across the globe. Most of us are introduced to it at quite an early age through Bond, James Bond. In ‘Goldfinger’ Bond drinks Dom Perignon ’53, and that is what did it for me, I was hooked, although it took a fair few years after that to get my hands on the stuff! Vintage Champagne can age for decades and as supply runs down, so the price goes up (see below). It is probably the steadiest performer of all the sub sections of the fine wine market and some Champagne should be in every single cellar, collection, or portfolio always and forever! Champagne has not really been treated as an investment staple within the wine world until relatively recently. The performance of famous brands and now the turnover in the secondary market makes it qualify for that description with consummate ease.

I have looked at these five vintage champagnes, based on their overall quality and their liquidity in the secondary market, from only the best vintages of modern times. Here are their prices (per bottle):

Vintage 1990 1996 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 Average
Current prices
Comtes de Champagne 462 376 156 225 104 90 125 220
Cristal 374 371 209 221 165 137 208 241
Dom Perignon 269 317 200 167 124 119 130 189
Krug 508 350 225 281 189 171 - 287
Winston Churchill 393 319 192 175 132 132 165 215

Comtes is made by Taittinger, Cristal by Louis Roderer, Dom Perignon by Moet Hennessy and Winston Churchill is Pol Roger’s top cuvée.

What is quite amazing is how similarly these are all scored, (using WO aggregated methodology):

Vintage 1990 1996 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 Average
WO Points
Comtes de Champagne 95 94 96 97 96 95 96 95.6
Cristal 96 95 93 94 96 95 98 95.3
Dom Perignon 94 95 93 97 95 95 98 95.3
Krug 96 97 94 96 97 97 - 96.2
Winston Churchill 96 94 95 96 93 96 96 95.1

Here are the PPP (price per point) scores, to establish what is good value:

Vintage 1990 1996 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 Average
PPP (Price per point)
Comtes de Champagne 4.9 4 1.6 2.3 1.1 0.9 1.3 2.3
Cristal 3.9 3.9 2.2 2.4 1.7 1.4 2.1 2.5
Dom Perignon 2.9 3.3 2.2 1.7 1.3 1.3 1.3 2
Krug 5.3 3.6 2.4 2.9 1.9 1.8 - 3
Winston Churchill 4.1 3.4 2 1.8 1.4 1.4 1.7 2.3

Although Vinous Media only has a range of between 93 points (2000 vintage, easily the weakest of this selection) and 97+ (2008) for the different vintages, those in the know realise that ’08 is a mega vintage with ’02 breathing down its neck, which is on a par with ’96, and all of those slightly better than ’04 and ’06 and this is already reflected in the prices. The wines are all superb, but some more superb than others. If the PPP is way below the average (in red) for any of the wines, I have little hesitation in recommending them. When thinking about possible returns I have compared prices from the ’02, ’04, ’06 and ’08 vintages relative to the ’96 price and adjusted for time (10 years for the ’06, 12 for the ’08) for example and have come up with the following numbers (obviously this is just a simplistic exercise but interesting nonetheless):

Vintage 2002 2004 2006 2008
Annualised ROI benchmarked to '96 price*
Comtes de Champagne 8.90% 17.40% 15.30% 9.60%
Cristal 9.00% 10.60% 10.50% 7.00%
Dom Perignon 8.30% 10.20% 8.50% 6.30%
Krug 3.70% 13.90% 7.40% -
Winston Churchill 10.50% 11.70% 9.20% 5.70%

*No dealing, logistics or storage costs factored in

And lastly, a look at the production levels; the Champagne houses are notorious for keeping their levels of productions under wraps, but I have gleaned some information (not necessarily 100% accurate):

Production levels (across all top cuvées, white and rosé) Bottles
Comtes de Champagne 140,000 2002 = 60,000
Cristal 400,000 2009 = 800,000
Dom Perignon 1 mill
Krug 200,000
Winston Churchill 120,000

Of these names, Krug is on top of the pile in reputation, stature and price, Cristal and Dom Perignon are next, are truly international (and are made in huge quantities) and Comtes and Winston Churchill are more the sensible man’s choice for the price/quality ratio. I think they all make sense in their own different ways. Obviously, there are many more choices out there and grower Champagne is becoming ever more popular, but these names are dependable and highly liquid. And taste just so darn good… in case we forget!

Wine Owners - Winston Churchill

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