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Bordeaux Index: ‘2020 saw unprecedented Burgundy sales’

Fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index has reported “record-breaking” sales of Burgundy in 2020, with classified Bordeaux estates also performing “above expectations.”

Bordeaux Index sold more Burgundy last year than ever before

The online trader released two documents on 8 February, which detailed the market’s resilient performance: Bordeaux Index’s 2020 Market Review and 2021 Outlook Report.

A key takeaway from the 2020 report is the buoyancy of activity seen across Asia, with rising demand for older vintages of the Bordeaux blue chips observed during the second half of last year.

“In 2020, we sold more Burgundy than any other year,” said Matthew O’Connell, head of investment at Bordeaux Index.

Bordeaux Index thinks Bordeaux will outperform expectations this year via a dynamic en primeur campaign

“Considering the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall global market’s performance was exceptional last year. Prices remained stable, with demand rising sharply for Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in the fourth quarter. Fine wine has once again proven to be a most dependable asset in a crisis,” he added.

According to O’Connell, Bordeaux Index sees the potential for a dynamic 2020 en primeur campaign if release pricing continues to strike the right balance.

The merchant also explained that tariffs imposed by the Trump administration had dampened business in the US, but that Italy’s strong performance in that market was encouraging.

“The 2019 Bordeaux campaign was very successful in Europe despite limited volumes and we hope to see a continuation of the healthy buyer interest from recent years for 2020 EP,” he said.

“En primeur tends to see less focus from China. The Chinese market is more interested in physical vintages of Bordeaux – collectors tending to buy once the wines are in bottle.”

O’Connell also conceded that he was “perplexed” by the negative coverage of investor interest in and trading volumes of Bordeaux over recent years.

“I’ve read several articles which talk up the diversification of the fine wine market and Bordeaux’s waning importance,” said Bordeaux’s Index’s head of investment.

“But our figures don’t support this: annual trading volumes are very healthy and buyer interest strong. To describe Bordeaux as less important today is simply inaccurate. Indeed I anticipate that the region will outperform expectations in 2021 and possibly beyond – neither investors nor consumers have fallen out of love with claret.”

Nevertheless, O’Connell recognised that the market had clearly variegated over the past 15 years, with heightened interest in Champagne and Italian ‘First Growths’.

Yet he feels that Champagne’s rising prominence has sometimes been “over-hyped,” with interest in the region actually longer run and steady in its progress.

“Champagne price gains have been a positive story in the market over the last past five years, but we have not seen the outsized gains that Burgundy for example has delivered,” he said.

“Its importance has sometimes been exaggerated; the category tends to show broadly linear increases in price, when lauded vintages like 2002 become less freely available, as we saw in 2020 for example. But we haven’t seen the region as a stand-out performer of late.”

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