MENTIONED IN THIS POST:
What You Need to Know About the Liv-ex Burgundy Rankings
Every year, Liv-ex makes a list of the top 100 producers in the wine world (called the Power 100 list). Experts analyze market data to rank wines, taking into account their performance in a number of categories, including value and volume of bottles sold, the producer’s total share of the market, the average trade price, and whether the producer’s wines increased in price over the past year. Liv-ex tallies up scores under each individual category and comes up with a definitive list of the top-ranking producers overall. In the latest Power 100 report, more Burgundian producers received high rankings than in previous years. In 2017, 24 different Burgundian producers made it onto the top 100 list, compared to just 19 producers in 2016. And of those 24 producers, an impressive 22 of them made it into the top 50 list of best-performing producers.
What this means is that Burgundian wine is gaining in worldwide market share and trade price, both of which could prove profitable for your Burgundy collection. But if you only want to invest in the highest-ranking wines, then you should consider the top four Burgundian producers in particular. According to Liv-ex, Burgundy is gaining in value overall, and producers Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), Ponsot, Leflaive, and Armand Rousseau were the top-ranking estates from Burgundy. All four of these producers made it onto the top 20 list of best-performing wines on the market. In other words, these four producers are all experiencing a high value and volume of wine traded, a high average bottle price, and high overall price performance. This combination of factors makes these producers especially popular among collectors looking to resell their bottles for a profit. But in order to make the most out of your investments, you need to know which vintages were most successful for each of the four producers, and what the best method is for buying and storing these wines long-term.
Investing in DRC
Out of all of the Burgundian producers on the Liv-ex Power 100 list, DRC ranked highest. This isn’t unusual–the estate always outperforms its Burgundian peers on the list. But this year, DRC is performing especially well on the market. It ranks at the top of the list for best-performing Burgundy, and it took fourth place worldwide (behind Lafite-Rothschild, Margaux, and Mouton-Rothschild). This is an increase in rank compared to the previous year’s Liv-ex statistics; in 2016, DRC ranked in sixth place worldwide. The reason why DRC is having a much more successful sales year is partially due to an increase in vintage quality, and partially due to a renewed interest in Burgundy among collectors.
The 2015 DRC vintage is among the most legendary that the estate has ever produced, and many collectors are eager to buy this much-anticipated vintage. Because modern vintage quality is high (the 2014 vintage also received high scores), wine enthusiasts are buying up more DRC bottles in response. On the whole, DRC wines have increased in price by more than 31 percent since 2016, making this a very safe investment if you plan on reselling your wine later.
Here are the average critic scores for the ten most recent DRC vintages. These scores were calculated based on the cumulative scores from a variety of sources, like Wine Spectator and Decanter, as well as individual critics like Jancis Robinson and James Suckling.
As you can see in the chart above, the best DRC vintages include the 2015, 2012, 2010, and 2005. Out of the ten most recent vintages, the 2015 has received the highest scores by far. However, this vintage may be difficult to locate on the secondary market. Demand is high, and there is only a limited number of bottles available. If you can’t find an authentic bottle of 2015 DRC on the market, then consider investing in any of the estate’s other most recent vintages as an alternative. You really can’t go wrong with modern DRC; every vintage has something wonderful to offer, from the 2011 Romanée-Saint-Vivant’s sweet, round flavors to the 2005 Richebourg’s darker, more complex notes. The DRC vintage that you choose should ultimately depend on the Burgundy style that you prefer. If you love dark, smokey wines, opt for any Richebourg vintage. Collectors who enjoy a fuller, more velvety wine will do well with DRC’s La Tache label. And, if you’re looking for one of DRC’s most profitable wines, then Romanée-Conti–or, increasingly, Echézeaux—may be an excellent choice. What’s great about DRC is that as long as you stay true to your own taste preferences, you’ll never make a poor investment.
Investing in Ponsot
According to the lastest Liv-ex Burgundy statistics, Ponsot ranked slightly lower than DRC, taking second place for Burgundy overall. Ponsot also claimed the sixth spot on the top 100 list worldwide. However, Ponsot had what is perhaps one of the biggest comebacks of any producer on the Power 100 list. In 2016, the producer didn’t even make it into the top 100–it ranked in 130th place, far below where it is today. So, how did Ponsot move from 130th to sixth place in just one year’s time? While the answer is still somewhat unclear, we do know that Burgundy is gaining in popularity on the whole, and that terroir-driven producers like Ponsot are experiencing an increase in sales as a result. In short, more collectors are starting to appreciate Ponsot’s minimal-interventionist winemaking techniques. The estate doesn’t like to interfere with the wine’s natural flavors, and at times, this causes inconsistent vintage quality. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a wine that expresses terroir as perfectly as Ponsot. In years when vintage quality is high, these wines are absolutely incredible and very age-worthy.
This increased interest in Ponsot’s wines is just one factor that may have led to its higher ranking on this year’s Liv-ex list. The other factor may have to do with the announcement that esteemed winemaker Laurent Ponsot is leaving the estate. It’s possible that many collectors are buying up older vintages that were made by Laurent Ponsot in the expectation that these wines will increase in value in the future. When a winemaker leaves an estate or retires, it’s not uncommon for their wines to increase in value. Ponsot has already seen an 18 percent increase in price overall in 2017.
If you’re curious about trying Ponsot for the first time, or you want to add to your existing collection, then these are the average scores for the most recent vintages:
The best Ponsot vintages are the 2015, 2009, and 2005 releases. As with all of Burgundy, the 2015 vintage has been especially high in quality for the estate, so you may want to invest most heavily in these wines. The following labels are all great choices, as each received high scores for the 2015 vintages:
Investing in Leflaive
Domaine Leflaive’s position on the list also improved significantly over the past year, although not quite to the same extent as Ponsot. Leflaive started 2017 in 27th place worldwide, but by the end of the year, it had moved up to seventh place, just behind Ponsot. However, while Leflaive ranked below Ponsot overall, it had a greater price increase per bottle. Last year, Leflaive wines increased in price by more than 20 percent, and this producer had some of the highest numbers of bottles traded on the secondary marketplace. This increase in price is largely due to the renewed interest in Burgundy overall, especially on the Chinese market. Generally, Chinese investors are less interested in Margaux than they are in Leflaive. This is because many collectors in China have already established expansive Bordeaux collections, and are looking for new, high-quality wines to invest in. Burgundy has become the latest wine trend in China, meaning that value and prices are now increasing at a steady rate worldwide.
The quality of Leflaive is undisputed; it has long been one of the greatest producers Burgundy has ever seen. If you’re looking for the highest-quality wines to add to your portfolio, then you may consider the following vintages:
The 2005 vintage was especially high in quality for Leflaive, which is why many collectors choose to store these bottles long-term. Yet it’s important to remember that average critic scores won’t always give you an accurate sense of which Leflaive wines are worth an investment. For instance, many of Leflaive’s 2015 wines were slightly lower in quality than usual (that year’s warm weather caused some white wine styles to struggle), however, the 2015 Chevalier-Montrachet is a clear exception. This wine is very structured and is designed for long-term aging. This is why it’s so important to research individual scores for each label, as the average vintage score doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of every wine on every estate.
Investing in Armand Rousseau
Armand Rousseau has long been one of the most sought-after estates among Burgundy enthusiasts, and based on the latest Liv-ex Burgundy market data, the estate has proven once again that it is worth an investment. Rousseau makes some of the most consistent wines on the market. In 2016, the estate ranked in 19th place worldwide, which is a very impressive ranking. In 2017, the estate moved up in rank to eighth place, just behind Leflaive. This change in ranking is a reminder that Rousseau has always been one of the best Burgundy producers to invest in year after year, as these wines almost always rank among the top 20 in the world. Rousseau saw a nearly 17 percent increase in sales in 2017, which is on par with the rest of Burgundy. Moreover, Liv-ex expects Rousseau to continue to either maintain or increase steadily in value over the next decade. These wines aren’t likely to lose value anytime soon.
Here are the most recent average vintage scores for Armand Rousseau:
The 2015 and 2010 offerings are the standout vintages by far. In 2015, the weather in Burgundy was absolutely perfect for red wine styles, meaning that this already-consistent estate produced wines that were even more elegant than usual. Likewise, 2010 was a largely successful year for many Burgundy estates, resulting in wines with high acid and great aging potential. Because these wines are fairly popular on the secondary market, and yields were slightly lower than usual, it may be difficult to find them on the market. Instead, you may want to invest in years like the 2014 or 2005, which were nearly as high in quality and are much easier to locate. The 2014 Armand Rousseau vintage is famous for its floral aroma and strong backbone. This is a great wine for long-term aging.
Why Invest in Burgundy Now
This is an exciting moment for Burgundy. The region is not only releasing some of the best wine of the decade, but sales are also healthier than they have been in years. The only challenge is that these wines may be harder to find now than in the recent past, and you may have to pay a higher price for them. This is why it’s important to invest in Burgundy as soon as possible, before prices get too unwieldy. While great wines like DRC, Leflaive, Ponsot, and Armand Rousseau will always be worth buying, you can make a greater profit on these bottles when you invest in them while they’re still young. We likely won’t see exorbitant prices in Burgundy anytime soon, but the market is infamously unpredictable. By investing in these wines now, you’ll get the chance to drink or resell these bottles while the quality-to-price ratio is perfectly balanced.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.
At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most
treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of
passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles–we love sharing a great
glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a
Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.