The Market

more wine than coche-dury

By billn on January 28, 2019 #the market

If you are short of a few bottles, Sotheby’s is now touting their up-coming Tran-scend-ent Hong-Kong sale, 29-31 March 2019.

You have been warned…

…over 250 lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, over 80 lots of Maison and Domaine Leroy, including 20 cases of Grands Echézeaux 1959 Maison Leroy, and 6 cases of Echézeaux 1966 Maison Leroy. Then there’s ‘over 600 lots of Domaine Coche-Dury forms the most complete ‘library’ of Coche-Dury to be seen at auction, the number of bottles potentially exceeding stocks held by the winery…

Oh, and there’s Champagne, Rhône and Bordeaux too!

icymi – week 51 2018 – investment burgundy

By billn on December 21, 2018 #the market


There’s an obvious problem with this, and you can see that right from the bold title of the table introducing you to such delights – the table is by value, not by volume. Of-course a few of the wines in the table have decent volume too – Ponsot’s Clos de la Roche is not bad, 3.3 hectares and at a rough 30 hl/ha that’s about 13,000 bottles – a big cuvée for Burgundy. The Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart are even bigger cuvées – no surprise for grand cru (sometimes quasi) monopolies – even the Rousseau Chambertin is not so bad – but that’s where the volume stops, there are wines in this list that often produce 1-2 barrels – yes – 1-2 barrels. A table based on such things has no real perspective.

I do not deny the rise of worth of Burgundy, that would be a ridiculous standpoint, but today the chance of buying full 12-bottle cases, indeed 6-bottle cases of important wines shrinks by the year – it is already a few years since importers introduced the 3-bottle case, and there’s a queue for those too! I know that the superstars bring the headlines – DRC, Leroy – but at least DRC has some volume, Leroy is the typical poster-child of this ‘investment perspective’ – “The preponderance of Leroy in this adjusted top 10 and its strong price performance overall is the reason why it was ranked as the strongest brand in this year’s ‘Power 100’ list” – bombastic – no? They may have 0.5 hectares of the Chambertin that is noted, but they rarely produce more than a couple of barrels, indeed they produce only 1-2 barrels of many things, but no more.

A real indicator would be all the grand crus sold at major auctions, and their price tracked – of-course it would still be skewed by a big DRC sale, or single bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti sold for $0.5 million. But then there is at least a volume of transactions behind a number that you can track each year. Of-course I’m glossing over the fact that less than 4% of the Côte d’Or’s production is grand cru, closer to 1% if you look at burgundy wine as a whole. But when a single 6 pack of Leroy Chambertin (and there are not many of those) is traded twice in a year, but makes 20% less on the second occasion – it depends on who is in the room, bidding – does that mean that the market has tanked?

analysing the sales numbers from the 158th hospices auction

By billn on November 21, 2018 #the market

As promised (late) on Sunday evening, a little, more thoughtful analysis of the statistics of the 158th Hospices de Beaune, sale.

  • Here is a list of the ‘top lots.’ (pdf)
  • Whilst these are, at the outset, domaine wines, the sale should still be viewed in the context of a market where the bulk prices – at least at regional and communal levels – are beginning to soften: The softening is unsurprising following two vintages with a reasonable supply of wine, though with a backdrop of empty cellars. But given a market where demand exceeds supply for the highest value wines, we are unlikely to see a reduction in contract prices for those.
  • It’s interesting that on the one hand the President’s barrel fetched only half the value of the previous year, yet on the the other hand the Côte de Nuits grand crus and particularly the Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru of the Hospices increase in price each year by leaps and bounds. The Corton grand crus never exhibit the same cachet.
  • On a per barrel basis, the wine was still cheaper in 2018 than in 2015, but as you can see, roughly three times more expensive than in well-reputed vintages with a similar yield of barrels, such as 2005 or 2009.
  • For a vintage where a lot of hype is building, equally interesting is that the price per barrel is relatively consistent with 2017 and still some way below the value produced by the 2015s.
  • Given the vintage hype, it seems reasonable to attribute the higher barrel price (over 2017) to that, as opposed to irrational market exuberance, though the jury will be out for the best part of a year re the eventual quality of the reds and particularly the whites:
    VintageSale Total € millions*Price per barrel**Number of barrels
    ***2005€3.79 million€4,803789
    2009€4.99 million€6,250799
    2015€11.3 million€18,880575
    2016€8.4 million€13,833596
    2017€13.5 million€16,657787
    2018€13.95 million€16,850828

    *Ex Christies, without commissions, the President’s Barrel, Marc de Bourgogne or Fine de Bourgogne…
    **Ex Christies, without commissions…
    ***I remember when I thought those prices very high!

hospices wine auction – that was the (record) weekend that was…

By billn on November 18, 2018 #the market

I never taste the wines of the Hospices – I don’t consider them commercial and they are far too young for somebody (i.e. me) who habitually tastes wine just before bottling, to gain any more than a general idea of the vintage. I can wait…

But the buyers at the auction – it seems that they really couldn’t wait!

Let us remind ourself that 2018 has announced itself as exceptional – now that doesn’t mean that the wines will necessarily be great, though there are plenty of chances for that in red, though less-so in white. It seems that this was sufficient information for most of the buyers, because at just before 10pm the auction was, after nearly 7.5 hours finally over, the result – A New Record!

– Well, was there ever going to be any doubt?

The final result of this, the 158th Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction, was the delivery of a total value of €13,968,750 – last year, was also a record, bringing in €11,164,964. Later in the week I’ll do a little more thorough analysis. The prices started about the same as last year before the fuse was lit – here are a few highlights:

  • The first barrel of Bâtard-Montrachet, Cuvée Dames de Flandres went for €135,000 that’s 17k more than last year, the rest of the barrels for €130k.
  • So perhaps you’d prefer some cheaper white wine then? The Chablis 1er Côte de Léchet, Cuvée Jean Marc Brocard sold on average last year for ‘only’ €8,500, but this year it averaged out at a price of €14,500
  • Four barrels of Clos de la Roche, Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron were each hammered at €110,000 – they went for between €75-80k last year!

Of-course a new record value doesn’t mean so much if you don’t take account of the volume of barrels sold – and there were a lot this year – as noted, I’ll come back with more information after I’ve slept!

A little of the colour of the weekend:

baghera at it again

By billn on October 26, 2018 #the market

– with 1,363 bottles, 158 magnums and 3 jeroboams of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines up for auction in December. PDF here.

The pre-sale estimates look much more realistic, in the current market, than those by Sothebys for the recent record-breakers, and if you haven’t previously seen magnum format DRC ‘Assortments,’ here is your chance – and offered in multiple vintages too!

Certainly there were very many questions surrounding the lots in earlier auctions from this auction house, but the last sale, dedicated to Henri Jayer, was seemingly beyond reproach. Personally, I wouldn’t touch the older lots – that simply reflects my own risk-reward approach – but wines of the 1990s and younger I would be more open to, that said, additional provenance info would still be a pre-requisite. It is good that there are high-resolution photos of all the lots available on the auction website which you can access here – though it seems naive of them to make the serial numbers visible. I note the statement by Baghera that “this December 2nd sale is a golden opportunity to acquire Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines embracing ideal conditions of origin, of traceability and of storage” – so it would be essential to have some expansion of that information.

A spokesperson for Baghera told me:

“This couple of European collectors were wine passionates and had been purchasing Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines for many years, directly from the Domaine.
When consigning with us, they wished that they identity wasn’t disclosed and we respect their decision.

The wines had never been moved since purchased, and have lying all those years in an underground temperature-cellar. Most original wooden cases were still sealed (as per photographs on our website : when we had access to this incredible cellar (pictures of the sealed cases can be found on our website : — under the lot description). The wines were inspected and picked up by Baghera/wines last July and delivered to Geneva after temperature-controlled shipment as it should be. “

For the younger wines I completely understand, for the older ones, this is very murky territory; clearly the two collectors didn’t buy them direct and they will have been moved multiple times, if genuine. There are many more questions in respect of provenance to be answered here.

One thing to note, despite the bottle-posing elegance of Baghera’s photos – the enviable collection of many, many lots of DRC Montrachet when posed against a green background, above (from their catalogue), renders all the bottles – young and old – looking completely oxidised. Who knows, maybe there is method in their madness…

[Edit:] As always, it’s the old bottles that are problematic: See here.
In this particular segment of the market, there are many more fake than genuine wines to be found – to be taken seriously, this auction house has to be more forthcoming on why they stand behind these wines. It may be that just a handful of questionable wines can take the shine from an otherwise brilliant collection of a lifetime. This is the attention to detail that all modern auction houses have to aspire to – 95% good isn’t good enough – and, even if this attention to detail is there, it is not yet evident to me. For extra sleuthing, I’ll leave that to Don Cornwell and Maureen Downey. NB – two things; I do note the final thanks (page 433 of the catalogue!) to Jean-Charles Cuvelier, long of DRC, “for his precious help” – but the detail and extent of that help can only be guessed at. Finally The last page of the catalogue reports the sale date as 02.12.2008 – hmm – it’s always the biggest bloopers that pass people by…

the end of ‘hearty burgundy’ et al?

By billn on October 16, 2018 #the market

cite: Image – Gallo® Family Vineyards

I wonder if this was once pillow talk for Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo? Anyway, I note the following from a couple of weeks ago – perhaps it portends the end of stolen geographical labels – though the French are equally naughty in other foodstuff markets!:

WASHINGTON – On september 26, the Wine Origins Alliance (WOA) praised the passage of a bipartisan congressional resolution, S. Res. 649, that recognizes the uniqueness and value of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

The Senate resolution, introduced by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), acknowledges the distinctiveness of American wine regions and the contributions they provide to the U.S. and global economy.

The WOA is a unified global force in the winemaking industry dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of location to winemaking and protecting the integrity of wine region names worldwide. Its members include 24 winery and grape-growing organizations in nine countries spanning North America, Europe and Australia. Bourgogne and Chablis joined the WOA in 2012.

In March, the Alliance released a consumer survey that found 94 percent of American wine drinkers support laws that would protect consumers from misleading wine labels. The group also released a short film featuring winemakers explaining how the complete environment of a wine region’s location makes their wines unique.

bang! 1945 romanée-conti – half a million a bottle…

By billn on October 15, 2018 #the market

Lots 84 & 85 Romanee Conti 1945 – phote from Sotheby’s – cropped

And so it came to pass on Saturday, when two bottles of 1945 Romanée-Conti broke the auction record for any bottle of wine – they sold for US$558,000 and US$496,000 to Asian and American collectors, respectively – including buyer’s premiums. Robert Drouhin’s roughly 100 bottles achieved $7.3 Million – I last saw Robert a couple of weeks ago, impatiently driving his Range-Rover through Beaune, seemingly expecting all the runners in a charity 10km to stop for him in his car!

The pre-sale estimates were US$22,000-32,000 per DRC RC 1945 – I told you to expect at least $250k – so what did I know!? Those were short-lived records for Henri Jayer – but there’s nothing else in Burgundy that fetches such high prices; Leroy, Roumier, Rousseau and Coche – strictly second division vs Jayer and (old) DRC in the auction market…

Interestingly a bottle of whiskey went for 60% more – US$843,200 anyone?!

offer of the day – bruno clavelier’s 2016s

By billn on October 15, 2018 #the market

Bruno Clavelier 2016:

Vosne-Romanée La Combe Brûlée 2016 75cl 84.00* (Swiss francs)
Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes Maizières 2016 75cl 84.00

Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux 1er Cru 2016 75cl 123.00
Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts 1er Cru 2016 75cl 137.00
Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées 1er Cru 2016 75cl 137.00
Chambolle-Musigny Combe d’Orveaux 1er Cru 2016 75cl 147.00

Corton Le Rognet V.V. Grand Cru 2016 75cl 144.00

These prices are not delivered, but do include the Swiss 8% purchase tax.

It’s a long while since I bought wines from here – I enjoyed every one of them (that didn’t have a cork-related problem) – The prices are, perhaps, an indication of why it’s been so long …

offer of the day – domaine leflaive 2017 – bargain alert!

By billn on September 30, 2018 #the market

Actually that last part was joke – but I do almost see restraint in the increase for the Chevalier-Montrachet 🙂

Prices of their 2016s and 2015s, in that order, in the brackets (for even older prices to 2012 you can look here.)…

DOMAINE LEFLAIVE 2017 – Puligny-Montrachet (En Primeur)
Pouilly-Fuissé 75cl 49.00 Swiss Francs* (37.00 Swiss francs in 2015)
Rully 1er Cru Leflaive & Associés 75cl 49.00 (first offer)
Bourgogne 75cl 45.00 Swiss Francs (42.00, 38.00)
Puligny-Montrachet 75cl 89.00 (82.00, 69.00)

Puligny-Montrachet Les Clavoillons 75cl 128.00 (118.00, 89.00)
Meursault Sous Le Dos d’Âne 75cl 128.00 (118.00, 99.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 75cl 198.00 (185.00, 145.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 75cl 198.00 (185.00, 185.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 75cl 259.00 (245.00, 195.00)

Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet 75cl 498.00 (459.00, 325.00)
Bâtard-Montrachet 75cl 565.00 (498.00, 348.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet 75cl 695.00 (685.00, 445.00)

*As each year from the same merchant – no magnums in the offer this year. The last time I purchased was 2012 for magnums of Pucelles – as a comparison, they cost 355 swiss francs each. These prices are delivered in Switzerland, without the additional 8% Swiss purchase tax which you should include.

Burgundy Report

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