Category: Score updates

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.

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.

Investment Staples: new wines (and whites!) for your portfolio

Certain wines are a safer store of value than others. One of our four Wine Lister Indicators – Investment Staples – enables you to spot these instantly. The bespoke algorithm identifies wines of a high quality level, long-lived and not too old, above a certain price (therefore soaking up the frictional costs of collecting wine), with proven price performance, stability, and liquidity.

This last criterion is measured using the number of bottles traded at wine auctions globally. With the latest quarterly data in from Wine Market Journal, 16 new wine and vintage combinations (across nine producers) have recently become Investment Staples. These wines are all over £50 a bottle, with the majority falling under £400, but the most expensive – Roumier’s 2013 Musigny – costing £4,851.

Several of the new Investment Staples have displayed an upward price trend over the last six months, in particular Leroy’s Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 2013 and Roumier’s 2008 Musigny, both of which have seen increases upwards of 30%.

Wine investment is not often associated with white wines, but six of the new Investment Staples are just that. All possess staying power, and are young enough to have room for improvement. What is more, they are made by some of the finest wine producers there are, allowing them to challenge some of their red neighbours in terms of investment fundamentals. Of these, Roulot’s Meursault Charmes 2012 has the best six-month price performance, plus one of the longest drinking windows based on the average assessment of our partner critics. Jean-Marc Roulot has been a rising star for several years now, but his wines are still in the ascendancy.

The new Investment Staples nearly all hail from Burgundy, with just a handful of entries from Piedmont and the Rhône. Those seeking something a bit different that still possesses the criteria of a solid investment might look to Italian white, Gaia & Rey 2012 from Gaja, which has a drinking window of 2015-2025, 6.3% six-month price performance, and price tag of £124.

August Investment Staples Image

To search for more Investment Staples, subscribers can click here, filtering by country, region, type, style, price, and score, to drill down exactly into what wine you’re after.

Latour’s trade at auction is on the rise

The latest trading data is in, and it is evident that this quarter one region’s wines have had particular success at auction. We’ve calculated which wines have seen the greatest incremental increases in bottles traded by using figures collated by Wine Market Journal from sales at the world’s major auction houses, looking at the total number of bottles sold of the top five vintages for each wine over the past four quarters.

In contrast to last quarter’s data, which saw wines from a variety of regions see trading volumes rise, all five wines in the table below are from Bordeaux. Four are from the left bank, with first growth Haut-Brion benefitting the most from increased trade, while right bank Ausone also makes the cut.

Latour is the only wine to feature two quarters running. This presents an interesting counterpoint to the château’s reported fall in trading volumes on the wine exchange Liv-ex. Since its decision in 2012 to withdraw from the en primeur system, Latour has held back its five most recent vintages. It seems unsurprising, therefore, that the wine is less present than its fellow first growths on trading platforms, where recent vintages tend to attract high volumes of trade. However, this has not affected the wine’s success on the auction market, which favours older vintages, and therefore arguably makes for a fairer comparison.

Volume changes June

Latest search data: basketball beats Bordeaux

The latest online search frequency data is in from Wine-Searcher, and with it we can see which wines surged in popularity during June. As with May’s results, the effect of the 2016 en primeur campaign is evident, with four of the five spots filled by Bordeaux crus that released their 2016 vintage on or after 31st May.

June Search Frequency image v2

However, if the en primeur effect is to be expected, the likely reason for Giuseppe Quintarelli Alzero’s appearance at the top of the table could not have been foreseen. On 18th June, NBA star LeBron James posted a photo on Instagram of a bottle of Giuseppe Quintarelli Alzero 2007 that he was enjoying, having spent the day hosting his son’s birthday party. To date it has received well over 200,000 likes, surely contributing to its 168% increase in online search frequency. It appears that whilst La Place de Bordeaux is the fine wine world’s premier marketing machine, it is no match for LeBron James and his 31.8 million Instagram followers.

Returning to the en primeur effect, Canon 2016 was released at £73.35 per bottle on 1st June to great acclaim, having achieved its second-best Quality score ever. The leap in search frequency confirms its upward trajectory. Figeac repeats its May performance, surging even further in popularity in June. The 2016 vintage – Figeac’s best since 1989 – was released on 13th June, its 67% increase on the 2015 sterling release price signalling its clear intent to reposition itself.

Calon Ségur and Les Carmes Haut-Brion both comfortably achieved their best ever Quality scores with their 2016 offerings, and sold out quickly, no doubt prompting their surges in online search frequency during June. The next step is to get a famous sportsperson to post a photo of themselves drinking it.

New Burgundy Buzz Brands

Measuring the number of searches on the world’s most visited wine site, Wine-Searcher, provides a unique insight into a wine’s real consumer demand. With the latest online search data now in, we can determine whether there are any new “Buzz Brands”: one of the four Wine Lister Indicators, which were developed to isolate sub-sections of search criteria for our users. A Buzz Brand is a wine with strong distribution, showing high online search frequency or demonstrating a recent growth in popularity, and identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious.

As shown in the chart below, three new wines achieved Buzz Brand status in June. To qualify, a wine must either be among the 20% most searched-for wines, or a wine whose search growth has significantly exceeded the rest of the group over the last six months. Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru saw an impressive 27% increase in average monthly searches over the last six months and also excels in terms of quality, with an average Quality score of 948.

The other two wines, Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Luchets and Domaine Ponsot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru, saw their search frequency increase by 18% and 16% respectively over the latest six-month period. The latter has the highest overall Wine Lister score of the three, with 879/1000, and is the most expensive: £201 per bottle on average. Noticeably, all three wines are from Burgundy, a region whose online searches have been on the rise for some time.

New Buzz Brands_June 2017

Bordeaux 2016 top wines by Quality score

Now that all our partner critics’ scores have been published, we have been able to feed them into Wine Lister’s bespoke algorithm to arrive at Quality scores for the Bordeaux 2016 vintage. The top 15 wines are shown below.

Wine Lister’s Quality score combines the ratings from our partner critics, three of the most respected critics in the world – Jancis Robinson, Antonio Galloni, and Bettane+Desseauve. A small weighting is also added for a wine’s ageing potential.

2016 Top Quality Scores 2

Ironically, the top wine of the vintage is Latour, not available to buy en primeur since the château withdrew from the system in 2012. The Pauillac first growth surged 34 positions up the table from last year, to 992 points for its 2016 Quality score.

Lafleur is just behind on 990, closely followed by Haut-Brion, Petrus and Vieux Château Certan. In fact, all the usual contenders make an appearance in the top 15, including the five first growths, their right bank equivalents such as Le Pin, Cheval Blanc, and Ausone, and Sauternes’ own first growth, Château d’Yquem.

Less obvious showings that are likely to represent better value include Calon Ségur, which improved a mammoth 51 places on last year, as well as Figeac and Pontet-Canet, in joint 15th position.

The top 40 2016 Quality scores will be listed in our upcoming Bordeaux market study, due for release later this week, and available to subscribers here. Alternatively, see the full ranking on the website.