When you start a cellar of fine wine and spirits, you’re investing in a collection that will bring pleasure for years to come. We are sometimes asked about collecting wine and spirits for financial gain. Helping customers collect with the sole intention of achieving financial return is not something we encourage. Instead, our primary goal is to help you collect wine to enjoy in the future.
So, while a balanced collection of fine wines and spirits can be a relatively stable investment, past performance is no guarantee of future results and we don’t provide any promises about the potential increase in a wine’s value. We spoke to James Belok who is one of our Account Managers, and has many years of experience, to help answer some of the questions we’re asked about wine investment.
I’d like to start investing in a fine wine collection. Is that something I can do with Berry Bros. & Rudd?
It’s important for our account managers to understand, from the outset, what our customer’s motivations are. We want to help them build cellars they can be proud of and whilst value appreciation is a feature of some elements of the fine wine market we don’t encourage the building of collections with the sole purpose to make profit. So, whilst we have a great team here to advise you, it should be said that we’re not financial advisors (ours is not a regulated industry), so we’re not able to offer financial investment advice.
What advice can you offer me for getting started?
Rather than diving into the specifics of vintages, properties or vineyards, the best place to start is with a broader view. What’s the aim of your cellar? What are you hoping to get out of it?
For example, are you happy to be holding wines over the medium and long term? The world’s best wines have wonderfully long drinking windows, but, if you buy on release – En Primeur – then most wines require a good few years before they’re truly approachable and ready to enjoy.
Can you tailor a buying strategy to my needs?
Yes, of course. That’s exactly what we’re here for. It’s our job to really get to know you, your motivations, and your outlook – then we can tailor our recommendations to your cellar.
Is there a minimum amount I would need to spend?
There is, yes. There are exceptions, of course, but if you want to build a serious collection of fine wine you will need wines of sufficient quality. These usually start at £400-£500 per six-bottle case, In Bond.
Will you offer advice on which wines are likely to perform well?
We’re not able to give any guarantees about the likely performance of a wine but we can reference past performance. Since we recommend holding onto wines for the long term (10-15+ years) we can give advice on what we consider to be a low-risk region with historic and stable value appreciation. However, we will always have the underlying quality of the wine or spirits in mind when we offer them. We specialise in working with producers to secure the world’s most desirable and up-and-coming fine wines and spirits. Championing these newer producers from the outset allows our customers to secure allocations at the best possible price.
What’s the secondary market, and what role should it play in my cellar?
The secondary market is where wines are bought and sold once they’re no longer En Primeur. It’s a catch-all term for all wines which are no longer being cellared at the property where they were made. Which is to say building a cellar usually involves securing wines from the secondary market and – generally – should be used alongside En Primeur purchases. We don’t necessarily rate En Primeur purchases above secondary market wines; it will always come down to specifics.
Historically, there’s been a degree of nervousness around sourcing wines from the secondary market – it can raise questions of provenance and quality. Happily, I can allay these concerns when it comes to buying from Berry Bros. & Rudd. We have a fastidious buying process, with an extreme focus on provenance. We only buy from a small and select number of suppliers with whom we have excellent relationships. Alongside that we have a growing team, headed by Philip Moulin, our Quality & Authentication Manager, who oversees the traceability of the wine in our warehouse. This means we guarantee the provenance of everything we store and sell.
Are there any hidden costs when it comes to investing in a fine wine collection?
There are costs you should be aware of. These include our storage charges which include insurance at full market replacement value, storage in perfect conditions in our bonded warehouse and – when the time comes – free delivery to a UK mainland address to enjoy. Wines stored with us can also be sold with BBX, our online fine wine exchange. There is 10% commission on a successful BBX sale but no listing fees and no buyers premium.
Can you help me buy and sell my wines on BBX?
Certainly. BBX is a great source for backfilling your cellar with interesting vintages from sought-after producers and to find mature fine wines to drink now. BBX prices are keen, transparent and the process is both automatic and quick. There are more than 34,000 customer-owned wines on BBX which you can place bids on and just shy of 9,000 currently listed for sale.
In terms of selling, our team can help you price your wines using their market knowledge and guide you through the process should you need it.
I have a lump sum of money I’d like to use to start a cellar, can you help?
A lump sum is a great way to start a cellar – and a wonderful position from which to plan future purchases. We would be delighted to speak with you to discuss your requirements.