Fine WineReport 2011

Berrys' 2011 Fine Wine Report seeks to identify trends within the global wine market, highlighting potential and existing problems as well as flagging up exciting signs of progress, particularly in the realm of improvements in the quality of wine.

Berrys' 2011 Fine Wine Report seeks to identify trends within the global wine market, highlighting potential and existing problems as well as flagging up exciting signs of progress, particularly in the realm of improvements in the quality of wine.

Berry Bros. & Rudd is the UK’s oldest wine merchant, founded in 1698, and has, over the course of more than three centuries, developed a reputation not only for the quality of its wines but also for the authority and expertise of its key personnel in both Buying and Sales. The Company boasts five Masters of Wine, a remarkable number out of the global total of 290, four of whom have contributed to this Fine Wine Report.


Bordeaux’s markets for its wines are very diverse, but 68% by volume is sold in France, with only 32% going to export. In terms of value, however, the position is very different, with France accounting for only 55% of the total, showing that a sizeable volume of lower-priced wine goes through multiple retailers, while overseas countries are more interested in the higher-quality, more expensive bottles.

Of the major export markets, Germany is the No.1 destination for volume sales, followed by China, but when value is the determining factor then Hong Kong, the UK and China fill the top three places with Germany only 5th.

Whilst the vast majority of Bordeaux wine is made to be drunk and enjoyed relatively young, the very top echelon of super-premium wines have the capacity to mature and to improve with age over an extended period of time, up to 60 years in some cases, and this latter category has recently become the focus of some extremely speculative buying. It is not difficult to see why; the volume of wine produced from the top estates is strictly defined by law, so there is no question of simply turning on the tap and increasing production.

For decades the only markets for these top wines lay in Europe and North America, and prices remained relatively stable with the principal fluctuations caused by the varying qualities of each vintage. Recently, however while production remains unchanged, demand has risen sharply, with new entrants to the markets from Russia, Asia and South America. Under these circumstances prices for the best vintages have unsurprisingly soared, and châteaux proprietors, alive to the burgeoning interest in their wines, have not been slow to capitalise.

The ever-increasing demand for these top wines has created, over the past 30 years, an en-primeur market, in other words the chance to buy these wines as “futures”, some 2 years before they are actually bottled. The world’s merchants and journalists descend on Bordeaux in April each year to taste the previous year’s wine, at this stage just 6 months old.

The châteaux release their opening prices during May and June, often waiting for the pronouncement of the world’s most influential wine writer, Robert Parker, before deciding where to pitch their wine. In the past decade we have seen four exceptional vintages, each arguably better than the one before, in 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010. Release prices have risen to unprecedented levels, but this has failed to put a brake on demand thus far.

An illustration of just what level of financial appreciation has occurred amongst the top wines over the past few years is shown by the figures below:


1 year

5 years

Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50



Liv-Ex Claret Chip



Download the complete Bordeaux Fine Wine Report here


Historically the Burgundian market place has been divided between merchants, who bought grapes, grape juice at harvest or wines subsequently, and blended them according to their house style and traditions, and individual domaines responsible for all aspects of production from growing the vines to bottling the wines and taking them to market.

These lines have become blurred as the major négociant (merchant) houses have been purchasing vineyards to guarantee their supply lines, while successful growers have been supplementing their production by the purchase of grapes on a small scale. The top three markets by value, representing 52% of total exports, are the UK, USA and Japan...

Download the complete Burgundy Fine Wine Report here


Champagne, the self-styled ambrosia of the affluent, is generally a reliable bellweather of global economic selfconfidence and the good news is that both production and shipments are back on the increase. The Champenois are extremely proficient at self-regulation, their generic legislative bodies adroit in the apparently difficult balancing act between the large négociants, who dominate the actual production and sales (80% or thereabouts) and the large number of growers who actually own the vines (18,000 growers owning 70% of the vineyards). The much publicised admission of 40 new villages, increasing production by up to 10%, was finalised before the magnitude of the current global recession became evident and yet its fruits, in bottled form that is to say, will not come on stream for another 9 years...

Download the complete Champagne Fine Wine Report here


Economic pressures notwithstanding, the Rhône continues to excite and with the seemingly inexorable rise in prices from other premium areas, the future for the Valley looks bright. Asia looks set to turn its eyes towards these great appellations and the timely revitalisation of historical names such as Cornas, Hermitage, Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape leaves the Rhône extremely well placed. And what is more, 2010 is shaping up rather nicely with its more feminine style providing contrast with the powerful 2009s...

Download the complete Rhône Fine Wine Report here


As with the Loire, the region of Alsace appears to have suffered from the significant drop in per head consumption in its key market, France; a market which thrived on Alsace’s sparkling wines among others. A tiny region of 16,000 hectares lying to the east of the Vosges mountains close to France’s border with Germany, it too like the Loire has a plethora of grape varieties (Muscat, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir) among its largely white wine styles that has probably only served to confuse the end consumer; added to which the full-bodied wines are produced in German-shaped bottles...

Download the complete Alsace Fine Wine Report here


Historically a significant source of French white wine, accounting for approximately 8% of the country’s vineyards (approx. 500,000 hectares) in 2006, the Loire has struggled despite consolidation among producers in recent years to see off global competition. France still represents the key market, particularly for its sparkling wines...

Download the complete Loire Fine Wine Report here

Also in the Report - Market Reviews for

  • Southern France
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • New Zeland
  • South Africa
  • USA
  • Chile
  • Argentina

Download the complete 2011 Fine Wine Report

Fine Wine Department
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Tel: 44 (0) 1256  247 900
Fax: 44 (0) 1256  247 914


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