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Insatiable demand for En Primeur Burgundy and luxury Champagne may be weakening, suggests new report

Published:  03 May, 2023

A study published by investment firm WineCap has revealed several key trends that continue to shape the fine wine market in 2023, including a relatively lacklustre demand for 2021 Burgundy and expensive bubbly.

According to the report, “The mood around the recent Burgundy En Primeur campaign was mixed, as the vintage proved challenging due to low volumes and high prices. The lack of allocations for many of the top names, average production volumes down 50%, and 25% increase in release prices stimulated demand for other recent vintages, such as 2018 and 2020.”

It added: “Champagne, which had risen an impressive 68% between 2021 and 2022, has seen the most substantial declines so far in 2023, down 5.8%. Some of the wines that have become more affordable include Jacques Selosse Millesime 2008 and Louis Roederer Cristal 2013.”

Nevertheless, it emphasised that the Burgundy 150 was the only Liv-ex 1000 sub-index to rise in January ( up 0.5%).

Meanwhile, there was good news for Bordeaux investors. The report stated: “This quarter, two of Bordeaux's most discussed vintages fell in the critic spotlight. Major critics released their 2020 in-bottle scores, which led to price appreciation for some wines including Montrose (14%), Mouton Rothschild (15%), Pavie Macquin (22%) and Carruades de Lafite (40%).

“In Q2, the focus will move to the En Primeur release of the 2022 vintage – a year marked by heat and drought that produced yields below the ten-year average. While the quality is expected to be high, according to the official CIVB vintage report, it remains to be seen how the new releases will be pitched to look attractive in the context of the critically lauded and physically available 2019s .”

In addition, the often maligned 2011 vintage received a boost from the Chinese New Year – it is the last 'rabbit' vintage in the Chinese animal calendar. As a result, several wines set new trading records on Liv-ex this year. These included L’Évangile, Lynch Bages and Vieux Château Certan.

Yet this seminal fine wine region does not entirely dominate WineCap's ranking of top ten market performers. At the head of the list is Domaine Jean Louis Chave Hermitage 2019, while the 2014 vintage of the same wine takes the number three slot respectively.

Interestingly, Sauternes First Growth Chateau Rieussec comes in at number 5 (up 29.1%), despite the general lack of enthusiasm surrounding sweet wine.

According to Winecap, “The list of the twenty biggest risers also included three Opus One vintages, which rose in value between 3.3% and 18.8%: 2010, 2015 and 2011. No Champagnes made it into the top twenty – a major twist compared to the last two years.”

Taking a broader view, the report underlined the (overall) stability of fine wine as an investment vehicle, when benchmarked against mainstream assets such as stocks and bonds.

It said: “While fine wine prices generally fell, they showed signs of improvement towards the end of the quarter, with most regions making small gains in March. The Bordeaux 500 experienced the smallest decline (-0.3%) in Q1; it was driven by strong performances from wines from ‘off’ vintages – 2017, 2014, 2013 and 2011.”