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Market Report November 2012

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In the first half of November the Liv-ex 50 dipped to a new yearly low of 293.1. Thankfully, the latter half of the month saw something of recovery. The index bounced back to 296.8, down just 0.3%. The total value traded was down 11% year-on-year, with volume flat. Last month it was Pavie 2009 that received the most attention; this month its fellow promoted St Emilion wine Angelus came top, accounting for a tenth of 2009 trade. 2009 was once again most popular vintage overall, accounting for a quarter of trade. The 2006 and 2008 Bordeaux vintages followed, with 10.5% of trade each. Bordeaux’s share of trade rose for the third consecutive month to 87.6%. While Burgundy and Champagne had similar shares of trade to last month (5.3% and 2.2% respectively), Italy’s share dwindled to less than 1%. Meanwhile the Rhone took its highest share of trade since January, with 2.2%. Indices run flat again Both the Liv-ex 100 and Liv-ex 50 were flat for the fourth month in a row, dropping by just 0.3% each. The Liv-ex 100 is now down just over 10% for the year, with the Liv-ex 50 down 11.3%. The Liv-ex Investables and Bordeaux 500 both saw slight rises in the month, meaning the Investables is now running flat for 2012.

(more analysis in the full report)

Major Movers

It was off-vintage First Growths and inexpensive Seconds that pulled in the buyers this month. Demand for less heralded vintages has concentrated largely on Mouton, Haut Brion and Lafite, with Mouton’s 02 and 98 vintages seeing significant price rises in November. Meanwhile the affordability of Ducru 01 and Pichon Lalande 04 attracted buyers: they are under £70 and £60 per bottle respectively. Four Bordeaux 2009s and the critically acclaimed Taittinger Comtes 2002 have seen the largest volume of trade so far in 2012. The Left Bank dominated, with Super Seconds Pontet Canet and Montrose taking two of the top spots, while Right Bank Pavie 2009 has seen a rush of trade since its promotion and accounted for the second highest volume of trade overall.

(analysed in detail in full report)

News in Brief

The UGC tasting of the 2010s took place on 12th November in London. Out of the wines shown, Pichon Baron was regarded by many as the stand-out wine of the vintage. The 2010s have traded comparatively little on Liv-ex, accounting for just 4.2% of Bordeaux trade by value in November; Pichon Baron took a third of that figure. With a potentially perfect score from Parker, buyers are clearly hoping that the wine achieves a three-digit score. Yet, with a Market Price of £1,350 per 12x75, it is by far the most expensive of Pichon’s recent vintages. Its undoubted quality looks priced in. Late November saw a flurry of trades in Mouton 1996. Along with the rest of the First Growths, Mouton Rothschild vintages have seen a decline in prices over the last year. Back in May the 1996 was trading on Liv-ex for £3,350; this month it at one point traded for £2,850. Of the First Growths, only Haut Brion 1996 is cheaper than Mouton. A two and a half year low for such a high scoring wine may have accounted for the sudden increase in trade on Liv-ex for the vintage. on 2010 Bordeaux

Julia Harding MW and Richard Herring reviewed the in-bottle 2010s at the UGC tasting in November on Julia noted that “the 2010 left-bank wines I tasted confirmed my admiration for this vintage”, whereas Richard objected to “the extreme heaviness” of the Right Bank wines. Exceptions included Figeac, which “has the completeness and balance lacking from many of the more alcoholic 2010 St-émilions.” Effusing that “the Sauternes was fabulous” Richard awarded the highest of the 2010 scores to “extravagant” Climens: “the stand out” of the tasting. A selection of their other top wines of the vintage is shown below.

Final thought

As we detailed in last month’s Market Report, the price trajectory of top Bordeaux during the current correction has been far from universal. In short, the First Growths and their second wines have fallen in price significantly, while selected wines from the Right Bank (such as Pavie, Angelus, Clos Fourtet and VCC) and Left Bank (Pontet Canet, Calon Segur, Montrose and Leoville Poyferre) have posted small price rises. The sub-indices of the Bordeaux 500 show this clearly (Chart 1). While the Fine Wine 50 is down 33% since June 2011, the Right Bank 100 is up 4%. But at what point does this divergence go too far and create unbalanced pricing?

If we calculate the average price of all the component wines in each index and then track the historical price relationship between these averages (dividing one by the other to create a ratio) interesting patterns emerge. The ratio between the Fine Wine 50 and Right Bank 100 (Chart 2) hit a peak of 6:1 in the summer of 2011 (i.e. the average cost of the components in the Fine Wine 50 was six times that of those in the Right Bank 100). This ratio is now down to 4:1, the lowest it has been since 2006 and significantly below its 7 year average of 4.6 to 1. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of the Left Bank 200 (Chart 3), from a high of 8:1, the ratio is now back under 6:1. Also interesting is the relationship between the pricing of the RB 100 and LB 200. In October it hit a historical high of 1.5 to 1.

So what does this data tell us? First, the Right Bank revival is arguably drawing to a close – prices are now at a level, vis-a-vis Left Bank peers, that have historically proved unsustainable. Second, the significant price correction experienced by the First Growths in late 2011 and early 2012 was rational – historical price relationships were dislocated and value had left the First Growth market. In both 2008 and 2011, this dislocation proved the precursor to a market slump. Finally, the data points to the First Growth price correction having run its course and perhaps having overshot. If recent history proves a worthwhile guide, then the Firsts are back in play.

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