The 2018 Liv-ex Power 100 – analysis

ITALY

• Value has risen from 6% to 7.5% (year to date).
• Ten labels are represented this year (up from eight in 2017), including four new entrants.

The interest in Italy continues to develop, with many merchants noting that it is now among their hottest and most exciting categories.

As a sector it’s chiefly driven by the famed Super Tuscans, but while their price performance last year was solid, it seems to have slowed a bit this year.

Masseto in particular took a big hit; having jumped from 51st to 20th between 2016 and 2017, this year it has dropped 69 places to 89th. Gibbs said it had “done its dash for a bit”, and price performance was now biting deep. “It’s still an awfully strong brand”. Solaia wobbled from 80th to 92nd, though Gibbs reckoned it would “reverse that fall”.

Meanwhile, going the other way were Tignanello (up by 12 places) and Sassicaia (up by four), the latter having decent volumes and also a brand power that Gibbs reckons is the “strongest in Italy”.

So what else is on the up? Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and Barbaresco are the obvious choices, though they “haven’t quite got there yet compared with the Tuscans”, says Gibbs.

One brand back on top is Gaja, the highest-placed Italian label at 26th, having climbed 30 places from last year.

It was once a brand that many people fell out of love with a little, but it has lots of wines to trade and at decent prices, making it rather like a “Barolo that acts like a Burgundy”.

From the same neck of the Italian woods, Bruno Giacosa has shot out of 132nd place to 56th, it’s highest ever appearance in the top 100.

As Gibbs explains, its price performance is up by 17%, and the death of Bruno this year may have been a spur to collectors – even though winemaking at the estate has been in the hands of his daughter since 2006.

A potential shooting star is Produttori Barbaresco, which has soared from 153rd to 87th place, helped by an average price increase of 30%. Volumes are small though, warns Gibbs, and underneath its performance is “erratic”. Best not to read too much into it. All in all, Gibbs concludes that Italy is “moving through the gears and quietly broadening”.

The merchant’s view: Martyn Rolph, private account sales manager, Berry Bros & Rudd

Martyn Rolph, private account sales manager, Berry Bros & Rudd

What have been the big sellers this year and what have been the noticeable disappointments?
While we can probably say that for 2017, Bordeaux prices were too high overall, providing limited value for buyers, it still sold reasonably well for us. The drive continues for St. Emilion properties in Bordeaux – Figeac, Pavie and Canon, and Montrose’s popularity continues to develop too.

Have you seen interest in any Bordeaux back vintages, and what do you make of Bordeaux’s current position in the wider world of fine wine?
There is always interest in back years, many of which seem to offer value in comparison with more recent releases – 2014, 2012, 2008, 2006 and 2005 sell readily for us. Customers are looking back at 2010 again too – many (including me) think 2010 will emerge as the ultimate Bordeaux vintage. Bordeaux is still driving the market, to a large degree, and it probably always will, I suspect – there’s shedloads of it.

Which countries/regions/AOC do you see coming on strongly at present and you would expect continued interest in next year, and why?
More 2008 Champagne releases – all of which will be popular. For example, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and the official Dom Pérignon releases should be next year. 2015 Barolo should see big demand – it was an iconic year in Italy, well publicised through the 2015 Super Tuscan releases this year. Burgundy 2017 was a very good white year, and it produced good reds. It was a fresh, pure, classic vintage. Hopefully demand will be strong again.

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