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.
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 graph below shows the average long term price performance of top scoring Wine Lister wines by country, and the USA bucks the trend of elites on top (with an early congratulatory nod from France).
We have split out performance for an elite group of the 15 highest-scoring wines, and compared this to performance for a wider panel of 50 wines. For the majority of countries, the elite wines – let’s call them the establishment – have seen their stock rise over the last three years.
In the USA, it is the broader-based group (the red column) that has trumped the establishment (gaining more than 9%). The same is true in France, where a broader group of wines has penned a tale of higher returns.
Our measure of long term price performance is the 3 year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) which facilitates comparison to other investment products.
Elsewhere, Italian wines have seen the best returns among their elite group, averaging annual price gains of almost 10% – the most impressive of any group analysed here. One of the top performing wines in Italy’s top 15 scorers is Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo (of “no barrique, no Berlusconi” fame), whose average (cross-vintage) price performance is 23% CAGR over the last 3 years.
The elites also outperform the up-and-comers in Spain, Germany, and Australia, perhaps explained by the fact that there are fewer really well established top-end brands in these countries compared to France, and so their respective top 50 groups are less entrenched, and their top 15 groups still have room to grow in recognition and price.