Liv-ex Power 100 List – 2019

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK Away from the first growths, talk of Bordeaux generally revolves around the misery of failed en primeur campaigns, with a moderately successful 2016 offering quickly eclipsed by the shrieking disasters of 2017 and 2018. Yet, doom and gloom aside, from the ruins there is a bit of a shift in hierarchy going on in Bordeaux, and new players are emerging from both banks. While these post-2010, post ‘the good times’ futures campaigns have revealed some estates to be entirely tone deaf, others have proved anything but.

One particular group of over-achievers includes Canon, Rauzan-Ségla, Calon Ségur, Beychevelle, and Carmes de Haut-Brion. If you’ve read db’s en primeur coverage of the past few years you’ll know these are the names that crop up consistently as wines that have been seen as offering excellent quality and, crucially well-priced releases.

They are releases that merchants and their clients can really get behind. “They’re all brand-conscious owners, and all close in the rankings,” Gibbs points out in his analysis. Carmes in particular is “blazing a trail”, he says. This is the first year it has been in the Power 100, jumping from 105th to 61st place. Its price performance of 18% is excellent, and with an average price of £827, it has a lot of room for appreciation. Other big movers and shakers in Bordeaux must include Vieux Château Certan, which was the biggest riser among the Bordeaux labels this year, up 55 places from 83rd to 28th.

Volumes traded have risen sharply on Liv-ex, and while the price change has been good, Gibbs still thinks it “still looks relatively good value”, and buyers are “clearly circling” as a result. Pichons Baron and Comtesse, Figeac, Haut-Bailly, Pape Clément, Trotanoy and Eglise Clinet would be other brands to watch.

FORZA ITALIA The secondary market is very much French in character, dominated by Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, but Italy is coming to the fore. Ten years ago the country’s share of trade by value was just 2%, now it’s 8.5%, and the number of Italian wines on the exchange has exploded.

The number of individual Italian wines traded on Liv-ex is up by more than 1,000% in the past decade, with the number of labels traded doubling every two years. This year, Liv-ex released an in-depth report on Italy’s development in the secondary market, which only really began 40 years ago. Greater automated trading and more widely available stocks are two reasons Liv-ex pointed to as being drivers of the rise of Italian wines, and with it has come greater exposure and increase in volume and value trading. By far the majority of these trades are the Super Tuscans.

As well as the aforementioned Sassicaia, Solaia, Masseto and Tignanello are creeping up – though Ornellaia took a tumble to 91st place. It was joined this year by Brunello producer Case Basse, whose irascible but respected figurehead, Gianfranco Soldera, died in February. This has perhaps boosted its prices but volumes and values remain low. Nonetheless, Corney & Barrow, which is the label’s sole representative in Asia, says its performance is “superb”.

SUPER TUSCANS The Super Tuscans in particular work because they follow the Bordeaux model of good volumes and value and brand strength. As Liv-ex said in its report: “Tuscany offers one of the cheapest entry points into the fine wine market.” As long as that continues then these wines will continue to thrive.

The other talking points for Italy are Barolo and Barbaresco. If Tuscany is the Bordeaux of Italy, then Piedmont is its Burgundy, featuring smaller production, terroir-driven, single site wines and more expensive expressions. Yet there’s ‘expensive’ and there’s ‘expensive’. Bruno Giacosa (who died in January 2018) has been one notable riser, and has an average case price of £2,460. Gaja – admittedly diluted somewhat by the number of wines it offers – has an average case price of £1,217.

Therefore, while top Barolo can be expensive, one is still looking at paying less for it than top Bordeaux, and far, far less than Burgundy produced in the same volumes. Some Barolos are even rarer and their production more miniscule. That said, being small production and agency-driven Barolo is, says Gibbs, “hard to form a secondary market around”, but there is “something going on” and trades are starting to happen.

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