iDealwine update: Natural Progression

Over the past few months, a phenomenon has emerged on iDealwine online auctions: a relatively discreet and marginal category, natural or “nature” wine, has seen its demand and prices soar.

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Most amateurs have long accepted the fact that they will never taste icons like Petrus, Romanée-Conti or Screaming Eagle, whose famous labels and tiny production can’t meet the ever-growing global demand. The price evolution of these wine in recent years somehow didn’t alarm the savviest amateurs who knew how to find top cuvées from less popular producers or appellations with great price-to-quality ratios. However, the fluidity of information supported by the internet and social media has helped to spread good deals in a much more sudden way and at a global level.

Only three years ago, the Saumur-Champigny Clos Rougeard Le Bourg came under the spotlight, reaching on iDealwine and other international auction houses, up to 10 times its ex-domaine price of €40 (£37). This, logically, started to torment a few enthusiasts.

In the past few months on iDealwine, a Vin Jaune from Overnoy sold for nearly €1,000 a bottle, Ganevat’s cuvées are now reaching €150 and Richard Leroy’s Coteaux-du-Layon, an appellation that was never very sought-after, are gradually approaching the symbolic threshold of €100. More recently the confidential cuvée from Sancerre, Clos de La Néore by Edmond Vatan, a classic Sauvignon Blanc reached €200 a bottle: the price of a Burgundy Grand Cru. Getting off the beaten track is no longer the monopoly of a few wine explorers in the know. “Natural wines” and confidential producers are becoming increasingly popular everywhere.

iDealwine auction price estimates Source: iDealwine
Lot Hammer price of bottle iDealwine price estimate Δ/ iDealwine Price estimate Date of the sale
Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg Clos Rougeard 2010 €534 €360 48% 21/06/2017
Sancerre Clos la Neore Edmond Vatan 2011 €144 €67 116% 28/06/2017
Côtes du Jura Les Vignes de mon Père Ganevat 2006 €150 €150 28/06/2017
Vin jaune Pierre Overnoy Arbois Pupillin 1985 €900 €900 28/06/2017
Coteaux du Layon Faye d’Anjou Sélection de Grains Nobles Richard Leroy 50cl 1996 €74 €48 54% 28/06/2017

NATURAL WINE?

Certifications exists for organic and biodynamic wines, but there are none for natural wines. In France, the Association des Vins Naturels gathers many “nature” wine producers and defines key principles: producing without any inputs, being certified organic or biodynamic, harvesting manually, using indigenous yeast, banning brutal and traumatic techniques such as reverse osmosis, flash pasteurisation, or thermovinification and last, but not least, excluding sulphites. Many who claim themselves as “natural” are not part of this specific group. For most consumers, a natural wine is simply an organic or biodynamic wine made as naturally as possible with as little sulphur as possible. These producers are often slightly marginal in their appellations, discreet and only known among savvy wine lovers who keep their source secret and are, we imagine, protected from globalisation. Yet what is happening in our auctions proves the opposite. How can we explain this phenomenon?

PRICES ON THE RISE

 About iDealwine.com

> iDealwine is an international fine wine e-merchant with offices in Paris, Hong Kong and London. Specialising in online auctions and fixed-price sales, iDealwine was launched in France in 2000 and is now the online auction leader in Europe, supplying to 50 countries in Europe, Asia and the US.
> Wine is sourced from private European cellars and directly from the wineries, with a large range that includes rare bottles and vintages.
> iDealwine provides wine-market data and analysis, with more than 60,000 price estimates based on more than three million auction prices.
> Contact: Arthur de Lencquesaing – arthur@idealwine.com

Cherished by fashionable bars, restaurants and wine merchants, natural wines are becoming extremely trendy, and on a global level. On iDealwine auction, bids no longer come from a few savvy French or British connoisseurs but increasingly from New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

With confidential productions often split into many different cuvées, the supply remains limited. Back vintages are even scarcer as they used to be consumed shortly after being bought and never with an investment approach.

For sure, some wealthy amateurs are simply “label drinkers” but it is clear that the wines from Richard Leroy, Ganevat and Overnoy (like Clos Rougeard or Vatan) would have quickly faded away if they were not of such quality.

FUTURE SIMILAR CASES?

Obviously, all those who have in their cellar a good natural wine bought some time ago will inevitably wonder if, one day, their €20 purchase will sell for 10 times that price at auction. It is difficult to predict: in the same way the owner of Richard Leroy’s wines couldn’t imagine, even two years ago, reselling them one day with a solid profit. Who knows if in a few years’ time Chinese, Japanese or Americans will suddenly crave wines from Gilles Berlioz in Savoie, Stéphane Bernaudeau in Anjou or Alexandre Bain in Pouilly-Fumé?

The continuous and global search for underrated producers will certainly not stop, and many cuvées might experience similar sudden demand and price rises, forcing trade and consumers to further broaden their scope.

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