Tag: Bordeaux

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.

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.

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.

Price vs brand: getting brand for your buck

Following on from our recent blog on the relationship between price and quality for seven leading wine regions, today we turn our attention to the role that brand strength plays on price for those same regions. The chart below compares the regions’ average three-month market price to their average Brand scores, using the same 50 overall top scoring wines in each region as in the previous post.

Price per bottle vs Brand score

Bordeaux’s crus classés enjoy unassailable brand strength, a product of the success of the region’s classification system and the fact that its châteaux have enjoyed global renown for centuries. If you want brand for your buck, look no further.

Conversely, Burgundy’s extraordinary prices far exceed the level of brand clout commanded by its top crus. Its top wines trail the average Brand score of Bordeaux’s by 7%, but sell for nearly six times as much. This suggests that quality, and perhaps small production levels, play more of a part in the region’s prices.

The five remaining regions are more evenly matched. Tuscany’s wines have both the lowest average Brand score and the lowest prices, followed closely by Piedmont. Meanwhile California’s top 50 wines, which have the second-lowest average Brand score, command the second-highest prices. Top wines from the Rhône and Champagne command similar prices to their Bordeaux counterparts, but with average Brand scores more than 100 points lower.

Price vs quality: getting more for your money

In today’s blog, we’ve taken a look at the relationship between price and quality for seven leading wine regions. The chart below compares the regions’ average three-month market prices to their Quality scores, with the data calculated from each region’s 50 best-scoring wines (in terms of overall Wine Lister score).

Price per bottle vs Quality score

While six regions are clustered relatively close to each other, Burgundy finds itself at the extreme top end of the scale: its wines outperform on quality and have the prices to match. The top 50-scoring wines in Burgundy average a whopping £1,330 per bottle, driven by the likes of DRC La Romanée-Conti at £10,776 and Domaine Leroy Musigny at £7,805.

The Rhône’s wines have the lowest average Quality score but not the lowest prices: at £188 per bottle on average, they are the fourth most expensive of the group. California and Bordeaux display a very similar profile, appearing just above the trendline, indicating that these wines command high prices not simply on account of quality – brand also plays a part.

Champagne and Piedmont, meanwhile, fall below the line, suggesting that as regions they tend to offer value for money. Piedmont’s ranking is particularly impressive: second only to Burgundy in terms of average Quality score, its wines are available for a tenth of the price on average.