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market report

Liv-ex is an electronic exchange for fine wine used by professional merchants and collectors. Market Report is part of a package of services offered to subscribers of Liv-ex, with subscriptions starting at £49.95 per year. Below is just a brief extract from the latest Market Report. For the full report and to access Liv-Ex's services, sign-up with them at www.liv-ex.com

Liv-Ex Market Report
by Liv-ex.com, May 2008

Trading
May was the busiest month of the year to date on the exchange with trade up 90% on last year. The 2005 vintage dominated proceedings, as the release of Parker’s final scores led to the inevitable flurry of activity. We also saw the first trades from the contrasting Bordeaux 2007 vintage. As the wind was taken out of the sails of the 2005 vintage, investors busied themselves with back vintages. The Liv-ex 100 saw a modest rise of 0.3%, up 12.3 % on May of last year. With the 2005 Bordeaux vintage now physical and the final in-bottle scores released, it is time for a number of the wines to be included in the index. See next month’s Market Report for full details on the wines joining (and leaving) the Liv-ex 100. (See www.liv-ex.com for details or find the Liv-ex 100 on Bloomberg: see index code LIVX100).

Bordeaux 2005 accounted for a quarter of all trade. Elsewhere in Bordeaux, the action was remarkably evenly spread with only the 2000 vintage (14%) breaking into double figures. A host of recent vintages such as 1995, 1996, 2003, 2004 and 2006 all saw good demand. Burgundy also had a strong month — driven by good availability of DRC — recording its highest share of trade since the en primeur season in January.


(more analysis in the full report)

Major Movers
As in previous months the Bordeaux 2005s dominated the major movers chart. Alongside the climbers, however, we saw a number of wines from the vintage moving down in price for the first time. Of those that went up, Vieux Chateau Certan benefited from an upgrade to 95 points (previously 92-94) with Ausone also boosted by its 100-point status. The Carruades de Lafite story continues, with the 1995 joining other Carruades from strong vintages at above £1,200. Montrose 1996 saw heavy institutional buying that cleared the market of well-priced stock. Amongst the fallers, a number of wines that didn’t get the expected big scores from Parker fell back. Pavie, in particular, looked priced for the full 100 points. Haut Brion and Lafite also fell slightly, although they are arguably somewhat protected from larger declines by their first growth status.


(analysed in detail in full report)

Critical Corner
Prince Robert of Luxembourg – manager of Pessac Leognan’s two most famous chateaux, Haut Brion and Mission Haut Brion – was in London in May to celebrate 25 years since the purchase of the latter by the Dillon family (of which he is the most recent leading light). A stunning vertical of 55 wines from the Chateau was the result with, somewhat unusually, less celebrated vintages made available to taste alongside their more illustrious brethren. The pricing strategy of the chateau has changed dramatically in recent years, it being one of the few chateaux to release its 2006 far higher than the 2005, which was itself three times higher than the 2004. The 2005 was something of a watershed for the property, with its market price increasing from £1,565 to £5,500 in less than two years – a return of 251%. In contrast, the 2006 arrived on the secondary market at £3,250 and can currently be purchased for £3,600 (96-100RP), a somewhat more sobering (although still respectable) return of 10.7%. Most intriguing, however, is the current price of back vintages. As you can see below, the 2004, 2001, 1999, 1998 and 1996 all look spectacularly cheap when compared to the two most recent years. Indeed, the 2005 trades – incredibly – at 10 times the price of the 2004
(more analysis in full report)

Final Thought
In the last 12 months it has perhaps been the news emanating from the currency exchanges, rather than the wine critics, that has defined the fine wine market. Since last May the value of sterling against the euro has crashed – moving from 1.47 euros to the pound to 1.26. The US dollar has seen a similar movement over the same period, moving from 0.74 to 0.64 dollars per euro - half its level of early 2001. This near 15% reduction in buying power on both sides of the Atlantic has had a major knock-on effect for the fine market, particularly when forced to buy direct from Bordeaux, such as during an en primeur campaign or seeking out a case of a hard-to-find Right Bank chateau.

To demonstrate the importance of currency movements on the wine market we have converted the Liv-ex 100 into euros and dollars (using the exchange rate on the last trading day of each month) and than rebased the indices at 100 in January 2004. If you plot these three indices on the same graph you can see that they have diverged remarkably since last summer, with the four months of decline from July onwards being more pronounced (and the recovery more fragile) when priced in euros.




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