Wine Lister’s Brand category measures a wine’s performance across two criteria: popularity and distribution. In conjunction with its Quality and Economic performance, this allows a holistic assessment of a fine wine. It also enables a comparison of the performance of entire fine wine regions. Below we look at the average scores over both Brand criteria of the top 50 wines in Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Italy, and the USA.
Bordeaux dominates, with powerhouses Yquem and Mouton demonstrating the success of its classification system and the centuries-old global repute of its top crus. Its best wines are by far the most popular with consumers – searched for nearly four times more frequently on average than second-placed Italy. They are also the best distributed in the world’s most prestigious restaurants, present in 31% on average, and with 5 references per list.
Whilst Champagne comes second in terms of breadth of presence in restaurants, its top wines don’t achieve much depth in terms of vintages or formats listed – presumably because many of them are non-vintage.
Burgundy competes well in terms of restaurant presence, with the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru enjoying a strong showing in top restaurants. Meanwhile the region is fourth most popular in terms of searches each month on Wine-Searcher.
Italy is unique in that Sassicaia is both its most popular wine and also its best distributed. However, whilst its top wines are the second most popular overall, they also experience the second lowest level of distribution.
Finally, the USA’s best wines achieve a strong level of vertical restaurant presence, but come last in terms of both horizontal presence and popularity, suggesting the New World still has a way to go in terms of brand strength.
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First published in French in En Magnum.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Like Buzz Brands, which we explored last week, Value Picks are one of the four Wine Lister indicators, designed to highlight particularly interesting wines for our subscribers by isolating sub-sets of data. The Value Pick indicator helpfully identifies the wines and vintages which have the best quality to price ratio (with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus allowing the finest wines a look-in).
This month, five of our eight new Value Picks are from France – but with a Sauternes, Riesling and left bank Bordeaux to choose from the options are still diverse. Most affordable is Domaine Cauhapé La Canopée Sec 2011, from Jurançon, at just £16 per bottle and with a Quality score of 733.
The most expensive wine – but still at only £34 per bottle – is one of the two Italians that feature this month: Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Vigna Casa Maté 2004, which has an exceptional Quality score of 971. The other wine in the table with a Quality score above 900 is Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris 2007, from Alsace, priced at under £30 and with a Quality score of 906.
Please see our previous Value Pick blog for a note on prices.
With the latest data now in from Wine Searcher, we took a look at which wines have seen their average monthly searches soar in the last month. The US boasts two wines in this top 5, with searches continuing to increase for Screaming Eagle, and Scarecrow seeing a significant uptick. Bottled relatively recently, Scarecrow 2014 scored 96+ from our US partner critic Antonio Galloni, who described it as “a wine of finesse.” At the end of February, Scarecrow 2014 was the top lot in a Premiere Napa Valley auction, selling for $200,000. The increase in searches has boosted Scarecrow’s Brand score from 868 to 885.
Latour was the only wine from France to see its popularity rise last month, with searches for the Bordeaux first growth no doubt increasing as a result of the ex-château release in mid-March of Latour 2005, for €670 per bottle ex-négociant. Latour has the highest Brand score of all the wines in the table, with a near-perfect 999.
The final two wines to have seen a rise in popularity are Spain’s Pingus, whose 2014 recently received a 100-point score in the Wine Advocate, and Italy’s Azienda Agricola Falletto (Bruno Giacosa) Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva. In March, Antonio Galloni praised “the genius of Bruno Giacosa” in a vertical tasting, and the increase in searches resulted in the wine’s Brand score rising from 812 to 822.
How is the popularity score calculated and how does it fit into the overall Wine Lister score?
The latest price data is in, enabling Wine Lister’s algorithm to award new Value Pick status to those wines that achieve the best quality to price ratio (with a proprietary weighting giving more importance to quality, thus allowing the finest wines a look-in).
This month, the new Value Picks include a Champagne, a Port, and a sweet white Bordeaux, but it is Piedmont that dominates, with three of its wines achieving Value Pick status: Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Costa Grimaldi 2008, Luigi Pira Barolo Marenca 2007 and Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia 2010.
Each wine is priced at £44 per bottle or less – with half under £30 – and all have impressive Quality scores (based on ratings from our three partner critics) of 845 or above.
Prices per bottle are provided by our price partner, Wine Owners, whose own proprietary algorithms process millions of rows of incoming price data from Wine-Searcher to calculate a more realistic market level price – the price at which a wine is likely to find a ready buyer – based on market supply and spread models. As lower retail prices are likely to sell first, the prices you see on Wine Lister may be below the Wine-Searcher average in some instances.
In the latest of our blogs on the findings from Wine Lister’s Tuscany Market Study – following on from a look at the region’s global standing, and the popularity of its appellations – we turn our attention to its individual wines. Here, we have carried out an in-depth survey with our Founding Members (the key fine wine trade players from across the globe, between them representing more than one third of global fine wine revenues), for insight into their confidence in Tuscany’s individual wines.
First, we asked respondents which producers are due to see the largest gain in brand recognition in the next two years. More than half those cited are producers whose flagship wines are Super Tuscans / Tuscany IGT: Tenuta Tignanello (Tignanello and Solaia), Masseto, Montevertine (Le Pergole Torte) and Tua Rita (Redigaffi).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is home to two contenders, Biondi Santi and Casanova di Neri, while the final producer, Le Macchiole, makes mainly Bolgheri DOC wines.
We also asked the trade which individual Tuscan wines they consider to be hidden gems: wines that they rate highly but which they perceive as underappreciated elsewhere. Two of these wines are made by rising star producers above: Tignanello, and Le Macchiole’s Paleo Rosso, suggesting that these wines may not stay underappreciated for long.
Apart from Soldera Case Basse, all of the wines cited have average prices per bottle of £75 and under, combined with strong average Quality scores that vary between 814 (Castello del Terriccio Tassinaia) and 919 (Tignanello).
To take a look at the rest of the survey’s findings – including which Tuscan wines have seen the sharpest rise in demand, which consistently sell out, and which the trade have most confidence in – please log in to Wine Lister and download the report from the Analysis page.