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Fine wine reaches a record high on Liv-ex

Published:  09 December, 2020

Fine wine has remained buoyant this year, with increased reliance on technology and automated trading helping the market to reach as yet unprecedented levels.

According to Liv-ex’s annual report, the fine wine market has been “a picture of calm” this year.

While assets in other markets dipped, then rallied, as a result of Covid-19, the fine wine market has remained remarkably stable, with an increased focus on technology helping the total value of bids and offers on the platform to reach a record high of £83 million.

Many European merchants saw a huge spike in sales during the first lockdown, Liv-ex said, while merchants with a private client focus reported sales numbers that were stronger than during former Christmas periods.

This increased dynamism was largely due to two things: sterling’s weakness, but also the increased appeal of wine as an alternative asset. In what has been a turbulent year for all, fine wine offered “stability, variety and pleasure” for investors.

According to the report, 2020 has “accelerated change and brought about timely innovation".

"As the sector was forced to adapt, its members considered anew the role of technology in buying, selling, presenting and tasting wine. Bordeaux En Primeur 2020 became the virtual success that few imagined was possible. For the first time in years, an active secondary market developed for the new releases, as attractive pricing lured back many in the trade (and their customers),” it added. 

Again, largely due to online trading and automation, Liv-ex noted a broadening of the market in 2020.

As the number of automated trades reached a record high this year and the number of weekend trades trebled since 2018, the report noted shifting patterns in the regional spread of the wines traded on the platform.

Wines bought in 2020 came from more traditional fine wine regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. However, others also emerged, with growing focus on countries like England, China, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Chile and Argentina. Prices per bottle ranged from £4 to £21,000.

Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino 2013 was the most traded wine by value in 2020. Bordeaux’s L’Eglise-Clinet 2010 was the top price performer in 2020, up +37.0%. It was followed by Sassicaia 2013 (+30.7%) and Bollinger La Grande Annee 2008 (+27.4%).

The top 10 came from Italy, Bordeaux, Champagne and the USA.

In the US, the market continued to adjust to the reality of the 25% tariffs, which were introduced in October 2019. As a result, focus continued to move towards regions that were exempt.

Spirits also saw higher levels of demand as their secondary market continues to evolve. In 2020, the number of whisk(e)y trades on Liv-ex was ten times higher than in 2016.