Fine wine predictions for 2016
6th January, 2016 by Rupert Millar
As is now known, in 2015 the fine wine market ended up rather like the Duke of York’s 10,000 men – neither up nor down.
There will no doubt be some relief that the market has not finished in negative territory for the fifth consecutive year, tinged, perhaps, with mild regret that the generally positive monthly performances that began in the summer of 2014 couldn’t build enough momentum to kick the market into the black by the end of 2015.
Sadly, the heavy dip over 1.5% in July and then another sudden 1% drop in November thanks to a combination of factors, not least the continued downward trends seen in the euro, was too much for December’s 0.7% rise to counteract.
There was much to like in 2015 though, the Bordeaux indices ran flat but the category appeared to very much be finding its feet again as prices (especially for the 2009s and 2010s) began to settle and Italy, Champagne and the US saw their brand strengths and market share grow strongly.
So what might one reasonably expect from the market in 2016? In many ways a continuation of trends seen last year which have been laid out previously here but which briefly included: a broader and more ‘normal’ secondary market back to where it was around 2004 before the Chinese bubble, the lessened importance of en primeur (to a point), the pursuit of value as much as brand, a faltering Burgundian category and the growing dominance of Pessac-Léognan over Pauillac on the Left Bank of the Gironde.
Taking these trends into account alongside other factors, six points appear distinctly possible – maybe:
- The fine wine market will, finally, get back to growth in 2016. Slow perhaps but palpable.
- Italy will increase its market share with the Super Tuscans to the fore and Piedmontese wines increasingly emerging from the shadow of their Bolgheri cousins.
- The ‘cult Cabs’ and other great Californian wines will flesh out their market presence and gain a greater share – by value at least.
- The 2015 Bordeaux vintage will be hailed as great to superb in quality but the success of the campaign is on a knife edge.
- Burgundy’s prices really begin to stagnate and even fall especially on the auction circuit.
- The release of grand cuvée Champagnes continues with one of two consequences for the category.
On each of the following pages these themes are broken down and examined in more detail with arguments for and against their coming to pass.