Press Release: Value Picks vs Investment Staples at Hong Kong Showdown Dinner

Less than 18 months on from its inaugural Showdown Dinner, last month Wine Lister returned to Hong Kong to host the city’s most experienced wine collectors at a fascinating follow-up dinner.

Attendees were asked to bring along an Investment Staple or a Value Pick which were served blind throughout the evening, along with an added ‘mystery wine’, and scored out of 10 for enjoyment. With just a 7% difference between the two Wine Lister Indicator categories, the Value Picks put up a good fight, though Investment Staples just managed to take the trophy (unsurprising at more than six times the price).

First place was awarded to the Krug 1995, but the biggest surprise of the evening was the revelation of the Chinese mystery wine, Ao Yun 2014, which came in second place.

Read the full press release here.

Wine Lister Showdown Guests 2

From left to right: Averardo Borghini Baldovinetti, Mimi Shun, Jonathan Leung, Cathy Anderson, Seok Hui Lim, Ella Lister (Wine Lister’s Founder & CEO), Agnes Hon, Antonio Koo, Brian Yim, George Tong, Alex Cheung.

For more images, please contact alice@wine-lister.com.

Critics’ scores: tipping the balance

With the recent addition of Jeannie Cho Lee MW as Wine Lister’s fourth partner critic, now seems a good opportunity to elucidate our approach to calculating Quality scores.

Wine Lister’s Quality scoring algorithm takes into account each critic’s rating scale and the relative generosity or severity of their scoring.

Vinous and Jeannie Cho Lee rate on a 100-point scale, whereas Jancis Robinson and Bettane+Desseauve rate on a 20-point scale.  But we also know that the former pair never (or very rarely) give a rating less than 70, while the latter never (or very rarely) give a rating less than 10.

The first step in our scoring algorithm is to put all ratings on a level playing field by rebasing them. We take each critic’s minimum and maximum wine ratings and spread these back out over our entire 100-point scale. The result is that, for example, a Bettane+Desseauve rating of 15 and a Jeannie Cho Lee rating of 85 both score 50 out of 100.

But it’s not quite that simple! We also know that the way the critics score is different. For example, we find that Jeannie Cho Lee tends to give fewer high scores than Vinous. Our algorithm takes into consideration these tendencies towards more or less generous ratings, and adjusts scores as necessary for a fair outcome. This is our score normalisation process.

Using nonparametric statistical techniques, for the same wine-vintages that the critics have rated, we look at each critic’s probability of awarding each score, and use the difference in probabilities to make necessary adjustments.

Beauregard 2009 Quality score blog

For example, we looked at the set of wine-vintages rated by both Jancis Robinson and Bettane+Desseauve, and found that wines are around 5% more likely to achieve a rating of 17 or higher from Bettane+Desseauve. Once normalised, this means that a wine such as Château Beauregard 2009, rated 17 by both Bettane+Desseauve and Jancis Robinson, achieves Wine Lister critic scores of 73 and 76 respectively. In other words, 17 is harder to get from Jancis Robinson than from Bettane+Desseauve. This is illustrated in the image above.

Once we’ve rebased and normalised the critics’ scores, we simply take an average of those scores, giving an equal rating to each of our four partner critics, each of whom represents one of the world’s key fine wine markets.

There’s still more… The Wine Lister Quality score also takes into consideration a wine’s ageing potential as defined by critics’ drinking windows – watch this space for a further explanation of how that works!

Bordeaux’s best dry whites

Bordeaux is renowned for its reds and sweet whites, but its best dry whites should not be forgotten. While the majority of Bordeaux’s top dry whites are not the flagship wine of their respective châteaux, they still achieve overall Wine Lister scores that are amongst the strongest or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale. Furthermore, as part of some of the most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux, they all achieve Buzz Brand status.

Top 5 Bordeaux whites image_26_10_17

Leading the way is Château Haut-Brion Blanc, with a score of 902. It is by far the most expensive at £569 per bottle. This puts it 62% above the current market price of Haut-Brion’s red, presumably because just one sixteenth the number of bottles are produced each year.

In second place is Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (891). Relabelled in 2009, this was formerly Laville Haut-Brion. It has the best Quality score of the group (908), the result of very strong ratings from each of Wine Lister’s four critics and the longest ageing potential of the group – the last six vintages bottled under the Laville Haut-Brion label will still be drinking well until at least 2020.

Next comes Y d’Yquem with a score of 887. Whilst it can’t match the quality of the botrytised Sauternes for which the château is best known – not many can – it is available at a 34% discount, making it an excellent way of enjoying an iconic producer on a different occasion.

Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc achieves the fourth-best score (878). The only straight Bordeaux AOP in the group, Pavillon Blanc comprehensively outperforms its red counterpart in the Quality category (895 vs 771). That said, Pavillon Rouge has a stronger Brand score (944 vs 831) and Economics score (953 vs 920), in spite of a slightly lower price (£122 vs £138).

Confirming the dominance of the Graves when it comes to Bordeaux’s best dry whites, the last spot is filled by Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (868), the third Pessac-Léognan wine of the group. By far the cheapest of the five (£59), it is an absolute steal given its consistent high quality and ageing capacity. It also achieves the best Brand score (909), thanks to outstanding restaurant presence – it is visible on 23% of the world’s best wine lists.

Piedmont and Burgundy prices march ahead

In this blog we look at the price performance of five major fine wine regions over the past two years. Wine Lister’s regional indices use price data from Wine Owners, and each comprises the top five brands in its respective region (according to the Wine Lister Brand score).

In Bordeaux, for example, the top five strongest brands (measured by looking at restaurant presence and online search frequency), are the five first growths, Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton. Posting gains of 28% over two years, and largely stagnating over the last year, the Wine Lister Bordeaux index is the worst performer of the five wine price indices shown below.

WL price indices Image 24_10_17

Piedmont, meanwhile, has enjoyed a remarkable couple of years. Not only has its index grown by an astonishing 58% over the period, it has also been very consistent, experiencing just three months of negative growth – November 2015, May 2016, and April 2017. Sustained high growth rates suggest a region in demand. The Wine Lister Piedmont index consists of two wines from Gaja – Barbaresco and Sperss (now labelled as a Barolo again after several years of declassification to Langhe Nebbiolo), two Barolos from Conterno – the Monfortino and the Cascina Francia, and finally Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo.

Next comes the Burgundy index (consisting entirely of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines), which has grown by more than 50% over the past 24 months, but with a few more blips. It decreased in value by 4% in December 2015, only managing to recover in March 2016. In a repeat of this festive dip, the index dropped over 5% in December 2016, but recovered the losses in just one month on this occasion. It has started to close the gap on Piedmont over recent months, adding over 15% since May.

Tuscany and California* made similar gains to Bordeaux over the period – up 33% and 29% respectively. The Tuscany index has progressed fairly serenely over the past two years, thanks to its liquid Super Tuscan components. Meanwhile the prices of California’s top wines have been less consistent, enduring a fall of nearly 9% in October 2015, recovering with a dramatic 8% rise in February 2016. This year, having enjoyed strong gains during February and March, their growth rate has since cooled off, adding just 1.5% over the past six months.

*As you will know, California has suffered tragic wildfires in recent weeks. Wine Lister’s partner critic, Vinous, is donating to relevant charities the profits from all maps purchased before the end of November 2018.

 

Listed: Argentina’s strongest brands

This week’s Listed section ventures out from the Old World to look at Argentina’s top five brands. Wine Lister’s Brand score measures a wine’s performance across two criteria – restaurant presence and online popularity. The five Argentine wines, from three producers, all achieve scores that are either strong or very strong on Wine Lister’s scale, indicating that South America’s strongest brands are now established on the global fine wine market.

Listed - Top 5 Argentine Brands Image

With a Brand score of 849, Argentina’s leading icon is Cheval des Andes. A joint venture between Saint-Emilion heavyweight Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes, it leads the way when it comes to restaurant presence, featuring on 14% of the world’s top wine lists – its closest rival in that criterion, Bodega Catena Zapata Nicolás Catena Zapata appears on 9% of the same lists.

Nicolás Catena Zapata (834) turns the tables in terms of online popularity. The only Buzz Brand of the group, it receives on average 2,349 searches each month on Wine-Searcher, 27% more than Cheval des Andes (1,853). It also achieves the greatest vertical restaurant presence of the group, with 2.7 listings on average per list.

Nearly 100 points behind is third-placed Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira with a score of 739. Appearing in 7% of restaurants and receiving 999 searches each month, it achieves its best score in the Brand category, comfortably outperforming its Quality score (581) and Economics score (183).

The last two spots are filled by two more wines from Bodega Catena Zapata – Malbec Argentino in fourth place (694) and Adrianna Vineyard Malbec in fifth place (661). Both receive a similar number of searches each month (744 and 793 respectively), and are visible in 6% and 4% of restaurants respectively.

Larrivet Haut-Brion sees trading volumes lift

For the second consecutive quarter, the five wines which saw trading volumes rise most were all from Bordeaux. Four of the wines below are big hitters, with overall Wine Lister scores ranging from 921 (Château Montrose) to 963 (Château Lafite Rothschild).

These top crus are also mainstays at global fine wine auctions, with over 2,000 bottles of the top five traded vintages of each wine selling at auction every year, and over 5,000 for Lafite. So, while auction trading volumes – a measure of liquidity – feed into a wine’s Economics score, none of the four has seen a significant enough increase to find their Economics score significantly changed.

There is one anomaly. Château Larrivet Haut-Brion has an average price of £23 per bottle, and from the period of July 2016 until June 2017 its top five vintages sold only 103 bottles at auction. At the end of last month, however, 228 bottles of the wine’s 2000 vintage were sold at a Bonham’s auction, making the wine the most popular of the day.  The update to Larrivet Haut-Brion’s trading volumes has had a strong impact on its Economics score, which has risen from 567 to 667, and boosted its overall Wine Lister score from 663 to 684.

Volume changes Oct

We calculate 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.

Listed: Bonnes-Mares’ best wines by Economics score

Wine Lister’s holistic, dynamic rating system tracks a wine’s performance over time. By constantly analysing a wine’s brand strength and economic performance, as well as updating its Quality score as it is retasted by our partner critics, Wine Lister’s ratings evolve over time, as demonstrated by our new score history tool.

Wine Lister’s Economics score is a perfect case in point. Reacting to the very latest market data, it analyses a wine’s performance across several criteria: three-month average bottle price; short and long-term price performance; price stability; and liquidity. A strong showing across these criteria is what defines the five wines in this week’s Listed section – Bonnes-Mares’ top wines by Economics score.

Listed - Top 5 Bonnes-Mares Economics scores

Whilst all five achieve Economics scores that put them amongst the very strongest on Wine Lister, it is Domaine Georges Roumier’s Bonnes-Mares that leads the way with an outstanding score of 970. It is the most liquid of the five, its five top-selling vintages having traded 414 bottles over the past four quarters.

In second-place is Domaine d’Auvenay’s Bonnes-Mares (967). Underlining the Queen of Burgundy’s continuing surge in demand, it has a remarkable three-year CAGR of 35.6% (nearly double that of Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier’s Bonnes-Mares, its closest rival in that criterion). Its price is the highest of the group by a considerable distance, at £1,902.

Domaine Comte Georges de Vögué fills the third spot with its Bonnes-Mares’ Economics score of 942. One of the group’s two Buzz Brands, it is the second most-traded of the five (327 bottles), and has strong short-term price performance, its price having increased 11.2% over the past six months.

The Bonnes-Mares from Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier and Maison Joseph Drouhin fill the last two spots. Whilst they display similarly modest levels of liquidity (having traded 63 and 68 bottles over the past four quarters respectively), Mugnier leads Drouhin thanks to its considerably higher price (£436 vs £281) and superior long-term price performance (three-year CAGR of 18.2% vs 13.9%).

And thanks to Wine Lister’s approach, these scores will continue to change over time, meaning that they are always relevant and reflect the wine’s evolving position in the market.