Liv-Ex Market Report
by Liv-ex.com, March 2009
After a promising start to 2009, March saw the fine wine trade step back and take a breath. With fears over the market’s appetite for the soon to be released Bordeaux 2008s overshadowing action in back vintages, trade was slow throughout the month. Overall, exchange turnover was down 5% on last year, although the first quarter as a whole was up 17%. All sectors of the market were less active, including traders from outside the UK despite the continuing weakness of sterling. As a result, the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index gave back much of last month’s gain, arriving at 207.7 by month end; a decrease of 1.2% on February. This brought the year to date gain to 1.3%, with the year on year fall now 18.2%. (See www.liv-ex.com for details or find the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index on Bloomberg: see index code LIVX100.)
March saw Bordeaux’s share of trade drop below 80% for first time since early 2006, with Burgundy, Champagne and the New World picking up the slack. As was the case last month, 2006 and 2005 led the Bordeaux pack, accounting for 12% and 15% of trade respectively. Pre-1990 wines also had a strong month, with good availability of First Growths from 1982 and 1986 pushing the sector’s share up to 13% of Bordeaux trade. Burgundy’s 9% share was propelled by strong parcels of Leflaive, DRC and Potel coming to market. Elsewhere, the Champagne market was boosted by heavy trading of the famous names from the 1996 vintage.
(more analysis in the full report)
It was top-scoring (and reasonably priced) Bordeaux that was the major winner in March, with both Pichons appearing on the top movers list. Krug also had an extremely good month, with the recent downward price trajectory we have seen for the Champagne more than reversed. The bottom half of the table is dominated by Burgundy, which is arguably due to good general availability rather than any weakness in demand. Similarly, the appearance of two wines from the Rhone can be attributed to an easing of the recent upwards trend in prices, particularly for the very best mature wines from the region.
(analysed in detail in full report)
As usual, James Suckling was the first critic to pronounce on Bordeaux 2008, with the Wine Spectator critic finding much to like. He states that the “vintage is very good for the top names of Bordeaux. From petite chateaux to the premiers crus, the reds show lovely aromas, fruity palates and silky tannins”. He goes on to describe the wines as “very good to outstanding quality” and declares them “better than 2007, 2004 and 2002, and either at or slightly below the quality level of 2001 or 2006.” He describes the whites less enthusiastically, preferring the 2006 and 2007 vintages for their “better ripeness”. The sweet wines are seen as good, but “not in the same league as last year”.
(more analysis in full report)
Recent en primeur campaigns have been notable for their sedate pace, with the First Growths (whose prices generally define a campaign) not releasing until well into June. This year has been different: the moment the Easter egg wrappers were cleared away we had our first price. Latour was first to show its hand at €130 a bottle, ex-Bordeaux, which translates as around £1,600 a case in London. At the time of writing the other Firsts are yet to release, but it would seem likely that they will be priced at a similar level. To put this in perspective, we compared the current market prices and release prices for the First Growths in the last ten vintages. First, we calculated the current price of a basket of one 12x75cl case (owc, IB) of each of the first growths. We then did the same for the ex-Bordeaux release price and converted it into an index, with 100 representing the 2008 price. The results can be seen below.
(more analysis in full report)
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