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Growing price appreciation for old Port?

A less Bordeaux-centric market has driven recent Port vintages upwards at surprising rates and the potential for bigger returns on older vintages is also growing.

Traditionally, Port has remained slightly beyond the realm of price appreciation – as Liv-ex noted in its latest Cellar Watch report, a bottle of good 40-year-old Port for under £100 a bottle – but as part of a wider cellar and with a bit of patience it can show “handsome returns” in the long-run.

Normally reserved for Christmas in the UK (Liv-ex’s Port index usually shows a decent jump in October and November when it often outperforms regions such as the Rhône), Liv-ex asked recently if Port could be seen as “more than a festive digestif?”.

As Liv-ex pointed out, new vintages of Port, particularly in the UK, are often not drunk for a couple of decades which keeps “supply high and prices low”.

Nonetheless, as vintage Ports do enter their drinking window, their high quality, scarcity and longevity make them extremely attractive propositions.

The 1977 still trades “regularly” on Liv-ex and with Robert Parker scores of 93-97 points and a case prices ranging from £576 (Graham’s) to £1,260 (Fonseca), represents excellent value when compared to their Bordeaux counterparts.

In terms of appreciation, Dow’s 1963 has seen a 246% increase in the last 20 years, rising from £520 to £1,800 per case.

Dow’s 2011 alone has seen a 33% increase in the last year, driven by a failing Bordeaux market being named Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year”.

The 2011 vintage in general has been the main Port traded on Liv-ex this year, benefiting from the market broadening and the superlatives the vintage received across the board when launched last year.

“Port is not a straightforward investment market,” Liv-ex warned, “made more complicated by the times at which people drink different vintages.”

Liv-ex also warned that wines such as 2011 “despite the quality” are “unlikely to see the same kind of price appreciation as Bordeaux.

“So far so good – for the drinkers,” it continued. “Those looking to see return on investment will have to be patient, but it will come.”

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