Investors in fine wines toast gains

FINE wine remains a good choice for investors, who enjoyed steady gains of over 13 per cent during the first six months of 2011, according to Bordeaux Index.

Gary Boom, founder and MD of the fine wine merchant, said that 15 per cent growth in wine sales in the first quarter of the year reinforced the “health of the wine market in general”, in contrast to the volatility seen in global financial markets.

“Asia remains a key market, accounting for 45 per cent of total sales,” said Boom.

“Although the region’s share of the global market fell slightly, the overall numbers are solid.”

While Lafite remained the wine of choice for the Asian market, globally its sales fell by 17 per cent. Bordeaux Index attributed this to the fact that highly influential critic Robert Parker downgraded the 2008 Bordeaux, which also led to reduced sales of Mouton, by 15 per cent, and Latour, by 16 per cent.

It was the first time in many years that Lafite, described by Boom as a “power-house”, occupied most of the loss positions.

Boom explained: “Taken in isolation, Lafite’s fall is not particularly dramatic – but declines of around five per cent for both 2003 and 1986 provided a worthwhile reminder that prices can go down as well as up.”

The Bordeaux 2010 en primeur campaign, which was hotly anticipated by many as one of the vintages of the century, has shown erratic results.

A weakened pound, price rises of between 10 and 15 per cent and plenty of competitively priced 2009 options available, contributed to a fall in sales volumes of approximately one third.

However, actual sales values fell by less than 10 per cent, reflecting the higher prices and a market bias towards more expensive wines.

“Where there was a combination of critical praise and fair-ish pricing, there’s abundant demand for the upper echelons of Bordeaux,” said Boom.

“This is a marked contrast to the likes of Cos d’Estournel, Leoville Las Cases and Palmer. Here sales volumes dipped markedly as potential buyers were left without a compelling reason to part with their cash.”