Liquid dreams: The Lafite’s of the future?

With top-end cuvées proving an opportunity for consumers to tap into a luxury lifestyle, winemakers across the globe are creating highly priced wines to satisfy demand.

WE’RE IN the business of selling dreams; something that lifts you from the everyday and transports you into another realm, if only for a moment,” says Hugues Le Marié of Champagne houses Perrier-Jouët and GH Mumm.

He’s right – Champagne has hung its hat on successfully selling a luxurious lifestyle to its public, who, on popping a cork, can fleetingly glimpse into a world they long to belong to. Lily Dimitriou, corporate communications manager of Santorinibased Tsantali Vineyards, agrees: “Luxury brands combine craftsmanship, attention to detail, pedigree and paucity, allowing the buyer to become the ‘owner’ of an exclusive experience,” she says.

Feeding a want rather than a need, luxury products are linked to the pursuit of pleasure. But wine is a slow moving industry where reputations have to be earned, so how does an ambitious winemaker or estate owner go about creating a luxury wine brand? Given the current economic climate, the question seems more pertinent than ever.

While many consumers continue to feel the pinch, at the top of the money tree, the world’s super-rich still seem willing to pay for what they perceive to be the “best of the best”.

Denis Dubourdieu of 4G Wines

Denis Dubourdieu of 4G Wines

Eyeing up the middle of the market at the moment is a mistake – winemakers should be seeking to target top earners with hand-crafted prestige blends, which, if made using artisan methods in tiny quantities from old vines, then handpicked and aged in high quality oak, could give a serious return on the investment required to produce the wines.

Add to this a strong name and a striking label linked to a powerful story and you’ve got a luxury wine brand on your hands. Interestingly, many of the most lusted after wines to have emerged on the market in recent years didn’t start life with luxury in mind.

“I never planned for Pingus to be a luxury product; the idea was to find a top quality site and take it as far as I possibly could,” explains Danish-born, Ribera del Duero-based Peter Sisseck, founder of Spain’s most expensive wine, Pingus, which sells out en primeur for over £500 a bottle.

The fate of the wine, which is made from two tiny old-vine plots in the village of La Horra, was sealed in 1996 when powerful US wine critic Robert Parker hailed the inaugural 1995 vintage one of the “greatest and most exciting” wines he’d ever tasted, giving it a 96-100 point score.

Sisseck openly acknowledges the importance of that early Parker score on the consequent success of the wine: “It would be foolish and arrogant not to accept the influence Parker has had on making Pingus and other ‘new’ wines known to a large audience,” he says.


It’s a similar story for Jacques Thienpont, owner of 2.7-hectare estate Le Pin in Pomerol, the 1982 vintage of which received 100 points from Parker, propelling the wine to global fame. “I didn’t set out to make a ‘luxury’ wine; that was never my goal – I expected to make wine on the level of Vieux Château Certan, but I was told by my uncle that the soil at Le Pin had great potential,” says Belgian-born Thienpont, who believes Le Pin’s unique selling point lies in its exoticism.

“Le Pin is always soft and easy to drink from the beginning, wit good freshness and supple tannins. It has a roasted coffee bean taste, even before the juice begins to ferment,” he observes. Producing just over 5,000 bottles a year, a sign of how seriously Thienpont takes the pursuit of excellence was his decision not to produce a vintage in 2003 as the Merlot was overblown due to the extreme heat in Bordeaux that year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Events Executive

67 Pall Mall
Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ES, UK

Fine Wine Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Account Manager - London Trade Sales

Bancroft Wines Ltd
London, UK

Brand Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London UK

Marketing Assistant

Speciality Brands
Park Royal, London, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

Millésime Bio 2020

27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more