Explore the insider trends of the last months from BBX, our fine wine exchange. Below, BBX Trading Executive Tory Oliver-Bellasis discovers last month's most exciting and interesting discoveries.
As the Burgundy 2020 En Primeur campaign winds down, this is an opportune moment to review the vintages in your cellar. You may have bottles which are ready to enjoy, or you may be overstocked in some regions and wish to sell a case or two to make space for new discoveries. For Burgundy, look to the trio of 2006 ’07 and ’08 reds. While reflecting on these vintages, Mark Pardoe MW, noted that they are “definitely worth exploring now” as there are “some delicious surprises to be found”. Should you be fortunate to have some of these still in your reserves, it is certainly worth withdrawing them to drink soon. Or, you could consider selling on with BBX for others to enjoy.
There is a bright star emerging in Champagne. Located in the autonomous region of Aube – closer to Chablis than to most of the big Champagne Houses – is Domaine Cedric Bouchard. Cedric is a young, talented grower who established his own Champagne House, Roses de Jeanne, in 2000. His wines are now critically acclaimed and in high demand. He uses single varieties from single vineyards and single vintages. These more vinous, singular expressions are making people sit up and take note of the Aube, the “Wild West” of Champagne.
Bordeaux 2010: the last Year of the Tiger
Bordeaux 2010 has led the way so far this year: taking the largest share of all BBX sales for ’22. Château Lynch-Bages has secured the top spot, followed by Château Margaux, Château Figeac and Château Léoville Poyferré. But why the interest in this specific vintage? BBX has collectors in Hong Kong and Singapore, so it is perhaps no surprise that we are seeing a spike in demand for ’10 Bordeaux right now: the current ’22 vintage is the Year of the Tiger; ’10 was the most recent Year of the Tiger before that.
In the Chinese Zodiac, each year has an animal to represent it. The order of the animals is thought to be based on an old folk tale about the Great Race organised by Jade Emperor. He declared that their race position would determine their order in the Zodiac, with the crafty rat finishing first and the gullible pig finishing last.
We looked back at sales from ’21 – which was the Year of the Ox – to see if there was a trend. The same pattern prevailed: Bordeaux ’09, the last Year of the Ox, was up by 2% on the average year and claimed second spot overall. The Ox came second in the race, so it might stand to reason that ’20 – the Year of the Rat – would have seen a spike in sales of its fellow year, ’08. But although it took fourth spot in terms of cases sold, there was no similar spike in demand.
So why the demand for ’10, the Year of the Tiger? I spoke with Jose Lau who heads up our Hong Kong office. He explained that the two most significant animals in the Chinese Zodiac are the Tiger and the Dragon. Incidentally, the Dragon was supposed to have won the race, had he not stopped to help the other animals cross the river. Years of the Dragon include ’12 and ’00 so will we see a spike in demand for these two vintages the next time it comes around, in ’24?
What we do know is that the ’10 vintage in Bordeaux was brilliant – up there with the very best of the last two decades. In last year’s ‘10 years on’ or ‘Southwold’ tasting – an event where some of the finest palates in the UK get together to taste a vintage from 10 years prior – Philip Moulin our Wine Authentication Manager, said the best wines were absolutely breath-taking.
Region on the move: Southern France
It may only represent a tiny proportion of BBX sales, but wine from the South of France –encompassing Provence and the Languedoc – is positively thriving. The number of cases sold on BBX has increased by over 55% year-on-year, and is expected to increase even further. The ever-popular Mas de Daumas Gassac and the world-class Domaine de Trévallon take the top two spots – both are well worth seeking out. Domaine de Trévallon Rouge is a beautiful marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The 2010 vintage was described by Antonio Galloni as being “unmistakably world-class”, and “one of the rare values in fine, age worthy red wines”. We couldn’t agree more.
Commemorative and limited-edition labels
A host of commemorative labels and bottles are set to adorn the wines of 2020 Bordeaux – Château Léoville Poyferré, Cos d’Estournel and Ducru-Beaucaillou are among the producers set to commemorate the vintage. We thought it timely to see how special bottles have moved in the past, as well as what gems BBX has squirreled away.
One such bottle is ’15 Château Margaux. In November ’17 it was announced that ’15 Margaux would be released in a commemorative bottle dedicated to the late Paul Pontallier – the château’s Managing Director. Not only was the ’15 vintage his last, but it was also the estate’s 200th anniversary and one of the greatest wines ever made at the estate.
The black bottle features a gold engraving of the château and the new chai, designed by Sir Norman Foster. Before the announcement, the market price for 12 bottles was £6,529; within four months the price had doubled to over £13,000. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW sums it up perfectly: “This ’15 is an achingly beautiful swan song from an incredibly gifted winemaker, taken from us too soon. In my view, this alone makes this vintage more than worth the investment for the many lovers of history in a bottle.”
A persistent market climber is ’00 Château Mouton Rothschild, with its distinctive black and gold “Augsburg Ram” dominating the bottle. For incontrovertible proof that a label can move the market, compare the ’00 with the 1982. The former scored 96+ points from Robert Parker, the latter scored 100, and has an additional 19 years of bottle age on its side. The current market value for the ’00 is £19,800 (although a case sold with BBX last week for £20,800) compared with £13,500 for the ’82. You can bid on any format of either vintage here.
It is also worth mentioning Château Angélus and Château Pavie, who both released commemorative bottles for their ’12 vintage to mark their promotion to St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Angélus was adorned with a black and gold label and Pavie with a black and silver one. The ’12 Angélus saw its price rise by over 30% within a year of the announcement and now trades at around £4,000 for 12 bottles, an overall increase of 117%.
According to Liv-ex, the ‘12 Pavie saw a flurry of trades after the announcement but had a smaller overall increase with 40%. However, Angélus has since withdrawn from the St Emilion classification, hot on the heels of Cheval Blanc and Ausone. This has left Pavie as the only Premier Grand Cru Classé A within the St Emilion classification. We are waiting with bated breath to see who will join Pavie later this year – will more commemorative bottles be on the horizon?
Dom Pérignon has collaborated with many artists over the years, giving rise to a multitude of fantastically creative labels and packaging. Although artists such as Andy Warhol and Lenny Kravitz have graced their bottles, their only commemorative label is the ’08 Legacy Edition.
In ’18, a special edition was released featuring the names of both the previous and current Chefs de Caves: Richard Geoffroy and Vincent Chaperon, respectively. Geoffrey was a master of his trade who created 15 vintages in his 28 years at the property, as well as giving us the “Plenitudes” – otherwise knowns as P2 and P3.
He believed that Dom Pérignon matured in cycles, reaching three peaks of maturity or “Plénitudes”. P1 (Plénitude 1) is the standard vintage, released after the wine has aged on its lees in the cellars for at least seven years. The second, P2, comes after at least 12 years of ageing and P3 is released after 20 years on its lees.
We need only compare a six-bottle case of ’08 Dom Pérignon with the ’08 Legacy edition to see how a commemorative label can trade for significantly more. The former last sold with BBX at £1,100 (current best price on BBX is £1,150), while a case of the ’08 Legacy Edition last sold at £1,300, with a current listing price of £1,325.