In what may be a surprise to many in the trade, sales of German wine in 2016 have been “incredible”, according to fine wine merchant Justerini & Brooks.
The terraces of Germany’s famous Mosel wine region
In a letter to the merchant’s customers yesterday, Chadwick Delaney, who is managing director at Justerini & Brooks, ran through the areas of growth for the retailer in 2016, including Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône, before finishing with Germany, because he said that he was saving “the best to last”.
Noting that the London-headquartered merchant has “been proudly importing and championing” German wine “for many decades”, before admitting that the country “fell out of favour more than forty years ago”, he then stated that “The statistics for Germany this year [in 2016] are incredible.”
Continuing, he wrote that the increased sales were across Germany’s full range of wine styles, and not just the sweet Rieslings that the nation is famous for. “The growth in demand is not only in the traditional sweeter styles but also due to the newer interest in the dry styles of Riesling, plus the widening range of superb Pinot Noir now being made there.”
He added, “Our buyers also attended the famous Trier auctions this autumn and bought, for the first time ever, a large array of special, auction-only cuvées which were keenly taken up by our customers.
“In total it meant that Germany grew a staggering 576% on the prior year, with the average case price being easily the most attractive of all our key fine wine regions, at £363,” he concluded.
Sales of German wine at Justerinis grew 576% in 2016
In terms of other areas of growth, Delaney said that “Burgundy continues to shine,” recording that sales have grown “a further 24% on the year before”, while noting that the average case price has dropped slightly on 2015 (down from £961 per case to £869).
Elsewhere, he stressed the turnaround is sales of fine wine from the Rhône, “after many years of seeming disinterest”. According to Delaney, the region grew at “a staggering 441% on the previous year.”
He added, “The average case price, at £572, showing the difference the top estates of the Rhone Valley offer compared with their more fashionable rivals elsewhere.”
As for Bordeaux, he said that this was “still by far the biggest region for us and our customers”, and had “continued to come back from its long period of stagnation – showing a second consecutive year of growth, but this time more accelerated.”
He recorded that Bordeaux sales had increased by 65% on the year before, with an average sales price in 2016 of £1,218 a case.
The growth in German wines came from the great sweet Rieslings of the Mosel, such as those from JJ Prum, as well as dry Riesling and Pinot Noir
On the other hand, he expressed his disappointment at the performance of Italian fine wine in the past year. “Disappointingly, it seems that the large gains of interest in Italy that we had been seeing in recent years took a pause in 2016, with Italian sales dropping 9% on the year before, mainly driven by a less exciting primeur campaign for Barolo.
Continuing he observed the high prices fetched for top Italian wines, “Even though the average case price of Italian wine sold at Justerinis is £1,060 (down from £1,179 the year before), this surprisingly still places the country’s top wines above our Burgundy average.”
Looking ahead he then commented, “With the highly anticipated 2013 Barolo releases coming this March it will be interesting to review these sales numbers again next Christmas.”
Finally, he noted that whisky has become “a rapidly increasing area of interest with our customers, and one which we’ve been putting a lot of work into servicing.”
As a result of the merchant’s efforts, Delaney noted that the average bottle price of whisky sold at Justerini & Brooks is “now a heady £719”, adding that the retailer’s “whisky sales have almost doubled over the past two years”, making this category “a multi-million pound part of our business”.
Delaney’s report on the fine wine sales trends of 2016 in part support those of the other major UK merchants, whose views on the past 12 months we published online last year, and alongside in-depth analysis on the fine wine market in the December edition of the drinks business.
FINE WINE TRENDS 2016: THE MERCHANTS SPEAK OUT