The Event -
This report follows a fascinating evening of tasting and analysis which covered recent Top Investment Wines and was held in Monte-Carlo, the tax-advantageous wealth haven on the Cote d’Azur.
The thirty-two attendees were comprised of clients of Monaco Asset Management and local clients of The Antique Wine Company.
The purpose of the tasting was to study the investment performance of wine as a commodity, while simultaneously offering an opportunity to taste some fantastic wines. At The Antique Wine Company it remains our view that whilst fine wine represents an impressive investment vehicle, ultimately, great wines deliver pleasurable experiences. It is those experiences with family and friends which are often just as important as a wine’s ability to provide financial gain. What better place to enjoy some fine wine and discuss its investment potential than in a wealth management environment?
The line-up included four of the five First Growths (Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Mouton) along with the world’s finest white wine (Chateau d’Yquem), an exceptional example of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux and Chateau Cheval Blanc. Additional wines included Carruades de Lafite, Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, and a 100 point rated vintage of Chateau Pavie. Bordeaux vintages included 2000, 2005 and the recently released 2008.
Tasting Format -
Our head of purchasing, Berenger Piras, acted as sommelier for the evening and prepared the wines approximately 2.5 hours before the event. With the exception of the Domaine de la Romanee Conti Echezeaux, all the wines were double decanted in advance. The Echezeaux was tasted but not decanted in order to avoid any excess exposure to air. The wines were presented by Stephen Williams, our Managing Director.
The Rules of Engagement -
The wines were tasted in pairs. After delivering a short presentation on The Antique Wine Company and our Fine Wine Investment Services the ‘rules of engagement’ were explained. In this competitive tasting format, tasters could earn points for guessing (or calculating) the correct Return on Investment which would have been generated had the wine been purchased en primeur and then sold on the market today.
To enhance the competition, a bottle of 2005 Chateau Margaux was put on the line for the winner!
Guests tasted their way through the pairs, with some tasting notes, the opening en primeur price, and information on the various estates and vintages being provided. A few subtle clues here and there aided with the calculations. After the final wine was tasted we revealed the answers and guests marked their sheets accordingly. The winner scored an impressive 40 points!
Guests were then asked to vote on their favourite ‘palate’ wine (the wine they enjoyed drinking the most), which also revealed some surprising results...
Votes and Answers –
Please click here to enquire about the availability of these wines or to request additional information.
Surprising Conclusions -
The favourite wines of the night (by taste) were the 2002 DRC Echezeaux followed by the 2000 La Mission Haut Brion and 2003 Cheval Blanc in a tie for second place.
The 2002 Lafite Rothschild was the best performing investment wine with an increase of 1106% since release.
Correlation between taste and investment performance -
The tasting showed that there was very little correlation between the ROI and the Parker scores for this sample set. Two of the three 100 point wines actually ended up at the bottom half of the results sheet in terms of ROI (the Pavie at 203% return and the d’Yquem at 186% return). Interestingly, the two highest performing wines in terms of ROI, Lafite Rothschild (1106%) and Carruades de Lafite (712%) were scored modestly on the Parker scale at 94 points and 91-93
points respectively. This is no doubt due to the distortion caused by the Chinese market for Lafite.
The standout wine of the tasting was clearly the 100 point rated 2000 La Mission Haut Brion. In terms of ROI it came in third place (at 564%) and it was tied for the second most popular wine of the evening by taste. Our view is that La Mission continues to challenge the First Growths year after year in terms of quality. Be this as it may, it is still often overlooked by investors who are only focused on the ‘First Five’. This tasting really highlighted the investment potential of this wine, particularly given that it currently sits at an undervalued position in the marketplace. Fortunately, for savvy investors who are interested in the potentially 100 point La Mission 2009, we still have this wine available for acquisition in small quantities.
What did we learn? -
All of the wines at the tasting performed well from an investment perspective. Mouton Rothschild was the ‘poorest’ performer and it still showed 99% ROI over a four year period! Selecting blue chip wines and carefully analysing the market for undervalued options is the most lucrative route to ensuring solid financial returns.
The corollary between taste, critical acclaim and investment performance is clearly not direct. This shows the diversity of individual preferences, style and quality. These complexities are what continue to make the world of wine so intriguing.
To discuss or purchase wines from this tasting, or if you have questions about other fine wine investment opportunities, I can be reached at our London offices via email or phone +44 (0) 20 7359 1109.
Will Buckland, Wine Investment Analyst
The Antique Wine Company