Category: Analysis

Listed: the Australian wines getting their prices right

Wine Lister’s Economics scores are based on a variety of price and liquidity metrics, including a wine’s three-month average bottle price, six-month price performance, and three-year CAGR. This week’s newly updated Listed section features the five top-scoring Australian wines by Economics score. Noticeably, all are red, and red wines outperform for Australia in this category (the top white, Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, has an Economics score of 498, its top traded vintages only trading 10 bottles in auction over the past year). While there is quite a difference in points between the first and fifth wine on today’s list, all are considered very strong (750–900) or among the strongest (900+) wines in Wine Lister’s database.

Several of Australia’s best-known producers feature in our top five, including Penfolds, which accounts for the top two entrants: Penfolds Grange and Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. While both wines excel on three-month average bottle price and three-year CAGR, Penfolds Grange is particularly strong for liquidity, its top five trading vintages having traded 626 bottles over the past four quarters.

The third wine on this list, Torbreck Run Rig, experiences good trading volumes but has the lowest three-year CAGR of the five (3.27%). Fourth place goes to Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, which is the lowest in price and sees fewer bottles traded than the others, but has an excellent six-month price performance of 11.88% and good price stability. Finally, the list is completed by Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz, which has one of the higher three-year CAGRs, at 6.4%.

Listed_Top five Australians

Don’t forget – if you’re not yet a subscriber to Wine Lister, you can still fully explore this week’s five Listed wines, and those for the previous four weeks, via the homepage

Restaurant presence: the wines taking over the world

As Wine Lister’s holistic rating system demonstrates, there are many factors (nine criteria, in all) to take into account when calculating a wine’s greatness. One of these is distribution in the world’s top restaurants, our measure of a wine’s prestige and clout on the international market. In order to identify the restaurants that count – not just for the food but for the wine – we have created a matrix of global restaurants with Michelin stars, 50 Best Restaurants, World of Fine Wine Best Wine List awards, and more. We take the most formidable combination of these as the basis for our painstaking analysis.

We are expanding our coverage constantly, and the latest instalment is now in. This year alone has seen an increase of 50%, to 150 restaurants analysed. New entrants come from across the globe, from New York’s Balthazar to Paris’s Carré des Feuillants.

The table below shows the 20 wines to have seen their restaurant presence increase the most since the last update in April:

Restaraunt presence blog

The top three wines are Champagnes: Salon Le Mesnil, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, and Dom Pérignon Oenothèque (the last all the more impressive since the wine was re-branded a few years ago). None of them, however, is the wine with the largest restaurant presence. That accolade falls to Yquem, which saw its presence increase by 7.3% in the latest update, appearing on 69% of the world’s top wine lists – including Boulud in New York and Sketch in London.

Second most popular of the wines above is Mouton Rothschild, whose restaurant presence increased by 5.7%, and which overall features on 58% of the best restaurants, from The French Laundry in California to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong.

It is also interesting to note the wines that have relatively low overall restaurant presence but saw a significant increase in the latest update, suggesting that their stars are on the rise. These include Bordeaux Saint Pierre and Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Millésimé, which appeared on 2% of the previous restaurant lists but are now at 8% and 9% respectively. Meanwhile, Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge found its restaurant presence tip from 9% to 15% in the latest update.

The best wines money can buy?

This week’s Listed section focuses on the five Burgundy Grands Crus with the highest Quality scores. As previous analysis has shown, Burgundy’s greatest wines display better quality than those of any other major fine wine region. These five – all rare wines from some of the world’s most famous domaines – enjoy uniformly outstanding Quality scores. Unsurprisingly, they are also some of the most expensive wines in the world.

Top 5 Burgundy GCs

Leading the way is Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, the only white. The first of three wines in the top five overseen by Lalou Bize-Leroy, only 500 bottles of this rare wine leave the estate each year. Its wine level Quality score of 991 is the third-highest in Wine Lister’s database, behind two sweet Rieslings, while its average price per bottle of £2,523 is actually one of the more affordable in this list.

Moving up to the Côte de Nuits, next come Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru, each with a Quality score of 990. Once again, low yields command high prices, with the former costing on average £11,267 per bottle. Proving that the reputations of two of the world’s most prominent fine wine producers are built upon firm foundations, these wines achieve the highest Quality scores of any red wine on Wine Lister.

The “Queen of Burgundy” continues her dominance with fourth-placed Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, which achieves a Quality score of 985 points. With Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru just two points behind, these Burgundy brands comprise four of the six top red wines for Quality Score on Wine Lister.

Champagne corks a-popping in July

The latest search frequency data is in from Wine-Searcher, and with it we can see which wines enjoyed the greatest popularity gains during July. After the en primeur campaign fuelled the big surges of May and June, July’s top five gainers witnessed more modest gains. There is also more variety this month, with two Champagnes and a Napa joining two Bordeaux right bank heavyweights.

July search frequency blog image

Experiencing the greatest increase in popularity during July was Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut – particularly impressive considering it started from an already extraordinarily strong average of over 54,000 searches each month.

Next came Cheval Blanc, whose 2016 vintage was released in early June, before July saw the release of Salon Le Mesnil 2006. Described by Wine Lister partner critic Antonio Galloni as an “utterly compelling Champagne to follow over the next several decades”, its rise in online popularity suggests that consumers have already started to track its progress.

The last two wines are both produced on very small scales. Le Pin, notoriously rare, released its 2016 vintage in late June, which likely contributed to its increase in online popularity, at least among those lucky few with both an allocation and requisite funds. About 6,000 bottles of Napa Valley’s Abreu Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon are produced each year. As we saw in our recent post on California’s most expensive wines, production levels play a big role in the region’s prices. Perhaps the rarity of Abreu Madrona, the region’s eighth most expensive wine, is helping to boost its caché.

The best wines for quality, year after year

A wine’s reputation for quality cannot be determined by one vintage alone – the very best must be consistent, year-in, year-out. Today, we’ve analysed our data to determine which wines have the most consistent Quality scores (one of the three categories, alongside Brand and Economics that feed into Wine Lister’s holistic wine ratings).

Assessing all the wines in our database for which there are Quality scores for more than 30 vintages, we analysed the standard deviation of these scores from vintage to vintage. The top 10 wines below are the most consistent when it comes to quality:

Quality consistency_Top 10 wines

Unsurprisingly, these are all big names that have been able to invest in the newest technologies to see them through the more challenging years. Their reliability is testament to their status as great wines. Seven of the world’s top 10 most consistently qualitative wines are French, although of the five Bordeaux left bank first growths, only Margaux, Latour and Haut-Brion make the cut, joined by Petrus and Cheval Blanc from the right bank.  Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is the only producer to boast two wines in the table: La Tâche and Romanée-Conti, also the two most expensive.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the most consistent wine is also the most affordable. At an average price per bottle of £124, Californian Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello sees limited fluctuation in Quality scores between the years, with the vast majority of vintages scoring between 960 and 990. It is followed by Spain’s Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Unico – whose Quality scores on Wine Lister stretch right back to its 1920 vintage, proving almost a century of consistent winemaking.

Listed: top five Italian white wine brands

This week’s Listed section features the five Italian white wines with the strongest brands. They comprise two Langhes from Gaja (Gaia & Rey and Rossj Bass), two of Italy’s cult whites (Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Gravner Anfora Ribolla Gialla), and Cervaro della Sala (from the Antinori stable).

Listed Italian Whites by Brand

Whilst these wines all enjoy strong or very strong Brand scores, they do not command the same level of brand recognition as the top five Italian red wine brands, trailing them by c.90-250 points in the Brand category. Tuscan powerhouses Sassicaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, Solaia, and Gaja’s Barbaresco all achieve Brand scores of over 975 points, with Sassicaia’s outstanding 997 points putting it ahead of the likes of Cheval Blanc and DRC La Tâche.

Wine Lister’s Brand scores comprise restaurant presence and consumer popularity. It is in the latter category that the whites have the most ground to make up. For example Gaja Langhe Gaia & Rey, which featured in our latest blog on new Investment Staples, is present in well over half the number of restaurants of its close relative Gaja Barbaresco, but it receives under a quarter of the number of searches each month on Wine-Searcher. If sommeliers are convinced that these top Italian whites can grace the tables of the finest establishments, they still fly well under the radar of most consumers.

California: production versus price

This week’s listed section looks at the five most expensive Californian wines. Unsurprisingly, the list comprises five cult Napa reds, all with small annual productions helping to fuel a healthy supply and demand ratio that keeps consumers thirsty and wanting more.

Top 5 Californian most expensive image

Leading the way is Screaming Eagle, averaging c.7,800 bottles per year. At £2,450 per bottle, it is the 12th most expensive wine in Wine Lister’s database, just £27 below DRC La Tâche.

Harlan, the third highest-rated Californian wine overall, has an average annual production of c.21,600 bottles, and is the region’s second most expensive wine. At £638, it is available at nearly a quarter of the price of Screaming Eagle.

The next three wines all have lower production volumes than Harlan. At £509, Scarecrow has a similar price point to the likes of Lafite (£522) and Masseto (£524). Fourth-placed Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon achieves a Wine Lister score of 712, considerably lower than the others, but again low production volumes (c.6,000 bottles a year) help it to achieve its hefty price tag of £474. Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon fills the fifth spot at £460 per bottle.

Produced on far greater scales than these five, Dominus and Ridge Monte Bello, Wine Lister’s two overall top-scoring Californian wines, do not make the top five most expensive. The trendline on the chart below confirms the negative correlation between price and production:

Californian production vs price image

Remember that even if you don’t currently have a Wine Lister subscription you can access all the underlying data behind these five wines as well as those featured in other Top 5s, giving you an insight into the wealth of tools at our subscribers’ disposal.