The Southern Rhône makes its presence felt

The popularity of Southern Rhône wines is on the rise when it comes to iDealwine auctions as the region continues to makes a name for itself among fine wine enthusiasts.


AFTER SEVERAL years under the radar, the Rhône Valley is now making a name for itself among wine enthusiasts. In 2016, the most expensive bottle sold at auction at iDealwine was not, as you might have guessed, a Burgundy but rather a 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle, which sold for an incredible €13,320 (£11,679).

In 2016, Rhône wines made up 9.6% of sales at auction. In 2017 that figure increased to 11.5%. Traditionally overshadowed by Bordeaux and Burgundy, the WineDex Rhône, which tracks 10 vintages of the top 25 cuvées, became the highest-rising regional index in 2016, seeing 11.15% growth. In 2017 this trend continued as the figure rose by 6.7%. Traditionally more popular among French wine lovers, the Rhône is seeing an increase in demand from buyers in the rest of Europe and the US. Although Asia still appears to be more partial to Bordeaux and Burgundy, here at iDealwine we have noticed that established wine collectors and merchants from Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore, as well as younger customers, are broadening their scope, and the Rhône is benefitting from this trend.

FAMOUS APPELLATION
The Rhône Valley is the second-largest wine region after the Languedoc- Roussillon, and it is the less prestigious southern Rhône wines that make up 95% of all production from this region. This area is dominated by Châteauneuf-du- Pape, which spans 3,200 hectares. This famous appellation has allowed up to 18 grape varieties to be used, but is mostly dominated by Grenache. The appellation can be divided into three distinct types of soils: pebble on clay in the north and north-east, sand in the east and grit in the south. It is an appellation that benefits from plenty of sun exposure, with an average of 2,800 hours of sun per year.

At auction, Châteauneuf-du-Pape has contributed iconic cuvées, most notably Château Rayas and Domaine Henri Bonneau, whose prices have risen considerably in recent years. The wines of the late cult figures Jacques Reynaud and Henri Bonneau are iconic. Their wines express their unique style and personality, and are extremely sought after, thanks to their increasing scarcity.

At Château Rayas, Emmanuel Reynaud continues his uncle’s work, displaying talent that goes beyond his famous Châteauneuf: the cuvées Pignan (Côtes du Rhône), Pialade and wines from the domain and Château des Tours are also popular. But it was the finesse of the sandy terroir of Rayas that made wine lovers go crazy in the last online auction of 2017 on iDealwine. It seems that it is not just the French that adore this wine because the auction saw many bids from England.

iDealwine average auction prices from 2013 to 2017 for selected wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape (price by bottle)

Wine 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Highest 2017 Auction date
Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins 2004 €153 €156 €156 €228 €247 €438 25/10/2017
Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins 1998 €259 €236 €276 €306 €432 €669 15/11/2017
Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins 1990 €630 €810 €960 €1,080 €1,140 €1,140 11/01/2017
Château Rayas 2004 €194 €240 €234 €1,197 €300 €395 29/11/2017
Château Rayas 1998 €224 €259 €264 €1,025 €328 €384 26/07/2017
Château Rayas 1990 €620 €840 €965 €1,244 €1,090 €1,090 16/11/2017

Source: iDealwine

About iDealwine.com

> iDealwine is an international finewine 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

Emmanuel Reynaud keeps the artisanal spirit of these wines alive. The 2009 Château-Rayas (a wine that will age beautifully over the next 20 years) crossed the €600 threshold in the auction of 27 December (€608, +21%), while the 2005, sold for the same price at the first auction in November (+49%). The 1978, a cult vintage, reached €1,260 last year, bought by a French wine collector. Note also the rise in price in the two vintages that are ready to drink: the 1999 (+30%) and the 2000 (+32%), both costing €389 a bottle.

Henri Bonneau’s wines are stylistically very different. They are more powerful and spicier than those from Château Rayas, and have attained iconic status since the winemaker’s death in 2016. Their demand has increased massively. In this small domaine of only six hectares, very old Grenache vines give extremely small yields.

RECENT AUCTIONS
Together with the Cuvée Marie Beurrier and Cuvée Spéciale, which they only produce in a few vintages, the cuvée Réserve des Célestins is the domaine’s flagship. The wines are aged in barrel for up to 10 years, as per Bonneau’s desire. Several vintages of this cuvée appeared in the most recent auctions. The spectacular 1998 vintage, extraordinarily powerful, sold for €572, slightly below the previous month when it reached €669. The 2007 also sold for €486 (+43%) while the 1995, (today at its peak) is worth €423 (+50%). Having aged for a considerable time, the 1999 (which has some years in it yet) saw its price jump to €353 (an increase of 83%).

More than 95% of the collections on iDealwine are sourced from French cellars of collectors who have been amassing bottles for years, often getting them directly from the domaines. It’s thanks to this that we are able to offer these rare gems at auction that are becoming almost impossible to find.

Many domaines in Châteauneuf-du- Pape produce prestige cuvées in small quantities and not necessarily every year. Here are a few noteworthy examples that have reached significant prices: a  2005 La Plume du Peintre from Domaine de La Mordorée sold recently for €432; a 2000 Domaine de Pegaü’s ‘Da Capo’ went to Hong Kong for the same amount; the iconic 2007 ‘Hommage à Jacques Perrin’ from Château de Beaucastel sold for €408 to an English wine lover; and the 1998 Le Secret des Sabon from Roger Sabon went for €390 to a French wine enthusiast.

The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing, and the thirst for these great and scarce cuvées combined with the progressive emergence of demand from new markets should keep some pressure on prices as we have observed in the most recent auctions.

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