BI posts best H1 results since 2011

UK fine wine merchant BI has reported its best half year results since 2011, with sales up 6.1% to £51 million thanks to strong demand for rare spirits, US wines and first growth claret.

The merchant said trade in the first half of the year has been “exceptional”, with UK and European buyers accounting for 50% of trade and Asian buyers a further 40%.

Sales of US wines were up 96% in value, those of Champagne 18% and Burgundy up 11%. The biggest gains though were seen in the ever-expanding rare spirits sector where sales gained a staggering 251% in value – with most of the demand coming from Asia

As BI explained, sales have been strong despite a weak en primeur campaign. In total, the merchant reported primeur sales were down more than 50% on last year to £6m. Nonetheless, it continued: “The overall strong sales period demonstrates that investors and consumers are continuing to search out both exceptional quality and demonstrable value in fine wine.”

First growths and Champagne have proved the best-sellers so far this year, with Haut-Brion 2015, Bollinger RD 2004, Cristal 2009, Latour 1996 and Haut-Brion 1989 leading the way.

Echoing a recent report by Liv-ex, BI noted that 1989 Haut-Brion has proved top be the best label for investment so far this year, rising 29% in price from £17,150 to £24,000 a dozen between January and June.

Also performing strongly have been 1990 Margaux (22%), 2015 Hermitage La Chapelle from Jaboulet (18%), Salon 2004 (14%) and 2014 Carruades de Lafite (12%).

Managing director, Gary Boom, commented: “It has been fascinating to watch the continued growth of trade in physical vintages throughout the world. In previous years a lacklustre en primeur campaign has led to a general slowdown in interest for wine buyers – but 2018 has certainly bucked this trend. Bordeaux clearly remains the go-to region but the market is being driven by mature wines rather than new releases.

“The continued growth of interest in Champagne is also extremely satisfying. We’ve long believed that Champagne is not only a brilliant wine to drink but actually fantastic value compared to other wine regions of comparable quality. Asia was initially reluctant to engage with this market, preferring red wine, but the revolution is certainly coming. This only adds value to the investment proposition of Champagne as the speed of post-release consumption already far outstrips the slow maturation of the best wines.”

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