Analysis of Yquem 2015, which has been released this afternoon at €250 ex-négociant, the same as 2014, with a UK RRP of £264, an increase of 11% on 2014:
You can download the slide here: Wine Lister Fact Sheet Yquem 2015
The 1855 Bordeaux classification might well be considered one of the earliest examples of a wine rating system. Classifying wines by six categories – including “unclassified” – might seem restrictive now (compared to Wine Lister’s 1,000 point scale), but the classification has proven to be highly influential and durable. This week’s Listed section focuses on the five Bordeaux fifth growths with the highest overall Wine Lister score, giving us an opportunity to see how the 160-year-old classification stacks up today.
Whilst the 1855 classification used price as the yardstick by which a wine should be rated, Wine Lister’s holistic approach also takes into account quality, brand strength, and other economic metrics. The outcome is that with an average Wine Lister score of 881, these flying fifths outperform both the top five performing third growths and fourth growths (average of 863 and 834 respectively), beating the two classes across every category. Nonetheless, the top fifth growths trail the most highly-rated second growths and the five first growths by 48 and 86 points respectively overall.
Pontet-Canet is the leading fifth growth, with a score of 912. While all five wines perform well in terms of Brand score, Pontet-Canet’s first place position is supported by an excellent Quality score of 905, nearly 60 points above Grand-Puy-Lacoste, the second highest rated of the five in terms of quality.
Lynch-Bages comes next. Whilst it performs well in the Quality and Economics categories, it is in the Brand category that it comes into its own, with a near-perfect score of 998 putting it alongside first growths Haut-Brion and Margaux.
Grand-Puy-Lacoste takes third place with 886, scoring well across the board. It is one of the four Buzz Brands of the group, a fact which confirms that these top fifth growths currently confer more prestige than their third and fourth growth counterparts, which see fewer Buzz Brands within their respective top fives.
The last two spots are filled by wines from the Baron Philippe de Rothschild stable – Clerc-Milon and d’Armailhac. The former achieves the highest Economics score of the group – 908 – thanks to excellent price performance over both the long and short-term. Meanwhile, d’Armailhac’s score of 840, whilst 30 points below Clerc-Milon, puts it above all but four third and fourth growths.
These results blur the lines between the traditional classifications, demonstrating that price can no longer be looked at in isolation, and suggesting that a more nuanced and flexible approach needs to be taken in rating wines.
Remember that there are many ways to search Wine Lister, including by score, geography, and classification – which is how we calculated the findings above.
One of Wine Lister’s four Indicators, Value Picks identify the wines and vintages which have the best quality to price ratio, with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus giving the finest wines a look-in.
With the latest price data in, 28 new wines have recently qualified as Value Picks. While Value Picks are calculated using a three-month average bottle score for accuracy (in order to take into account any price fluctuations), we have shown the current price per bottle below for ease of comparison. Please note that the price shown is excluding duty and VAT, and often reflects prices available only when purchasing a full case:
Bordeaux dominates the new Value Picks, filling 11 of the 28 spots. Margaux’s Prieuré-Lichine seems a particularly keenly-priced brand at the moment, with both its 2015 and 2016 vintages now Value Picks. With Wine Lister Quality scores of 891 and 912 respectively – very strong and amongst the strongest on Wine Lister’s 1000 point scale – and both priced under £30, they represent excellent value buys. Within Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan is home to the highest number of new Value Picks. Of those, two are white, with Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2014 and Château Olivier 2015 achieving very similar Quality scores (809 and 806 respectively), and each priced at just £20.
The other wine to feature twice in the latest update is Domaine de Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its 2010 and 2007 vintages. The former, which achieves a Quality score of 763, is available at just £18 per bottle. With plenty of life left in it, it looks like a great buy.
Three Piedmontese wines recently qualified as Value Picks – M. Marengo Barolo Brunate 2010, Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia 2010, and La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barbera d’Alba Gallina 2007. All three achieve powerful Wine Lister Quality scores of over 900 points. You might buy Giacomo Conterno’s wines to impress – the Barolo Cascina Francia is a Wine Lister Buzz Brand, but also averages £157 per bottle. If you’re looking for something more appropriate for a weeknight, the 2010 vintage of the same producer’s Barbera d’Alba, priced at just £30, would be an excellent Value Pick – a perfect example of how Wine Lister’s indicators can help you find the right wine for any situation.
Wine Lister’s four Indicators – Investment Staples, Value Picks, Hidden Gems, and Buzz Brands – were designed to enable users to find the perfect wine for any scenario in just a couple of clicks. Buzz Brands, the most talked-about wines, are sure to impress: they have strong distribution across the world’s top restaurants, show high online search frequency or a recent growth in popularity, and are identified by the fine wine trade as trending or especially prestigious.
Having recently expanded and updated Wine Lister’s restaurant presence coverage, 29 new wines now qualify as Buzz Brands, their global distribution broadening. To achieve Buzz Brand status, a wine must be among the top fifth of all wines that feature at least once on the menus of the world’s best restaurants – prized for their wine lists as well as their food.
Of the 29 wines above, 11 hail from Burgundy, confirming the region’s continued demand amongst the restaurant trade. Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair fares particularly well, with three of its wines becoming new Buzz Brands, thus suggesting it is a producer on an upward trajectory. These wines also benefit from a high online search frequency, as measured by Wine-Searcher, with the wine with the highest number of searches, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux Grand Cru, seeing 1,400 searches per month.
Champagne has also benefitted from the restaurant presence update, with four wines from the region gaining Buzz Brand status. Of this month’s new Buzz Brands, Bollinger Rosé now has the most impressive distribution, present in 17% of the world’s top establishments.
Piedmont sees four wines attain Buzz Brand status. Two new wines from La Spinetta now qualify as Buzz Brands, with Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche and Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia making up the quartet.
There are three new Bordeaux Buzz Brands, and one carries the accolade of being the most searched-for wine in the table. Château Saint-Pierre receives in excess of 3,700 searches per month, which in addition to appearing on 8% of the world’s very best restaurants makes it well-deserving of its new Buzz Brand status.
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:
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 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.
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.
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:
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.