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Bordeaux Index: Fine wine takes a tumble in 2023

Published:  22 January, 2024

‘Frenzied activity’ characterised the fine wine market during the second half of 2021 and most of 2022 in particular for Champagne and Burgundy, when prices increased by 69% and 58% respectively according to Bordeaux Index. However, things were much more subdued in 2023, with the platform also predicting some return of optimism in 2024.

Champagne and Burgundy led the global charge for the fine wine market in the years directly following 2020’s global shutdown, with price rises fuelled by a healthy combination of end consumers and investors.

According to Bordeaux Index’s latest report, dubbed 2023 Reflections & 2024 Outlook Perspectives for both the fine wine and rare whisky markets, 2023 activity saw declines ‘far beyond’ the Index’s expectations. This meaningfully impacted prices especially in the second half of the financial year, while the market overall was down 12% across 2023. Most affected during this period was Champagne, young Bordeaux and certain Burgundy pockets.

Rare whisky by contrast saw its fortunes grow in 2023, where the category continued its upwards trajectory, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Prices were 13% higher on average, while the strongest performers were Springbank, Balvenie and Dalmore. Macallan performed better in cask than it did in the top bottlings; and Japanese whisky saw a particularly quiet year, perhaps unsurprisingly after being high focus in recent times.

“For fine wine, after such a strong run (especially for Champagne and Burgundy) across 2021-2022, a settling of activity and prices was to be expected in 2023, certainly looking at historical trends,” the report reads.

“However, the year saw an activity decline far beyond our initial expectations and this meaningfully impacted prices, especially in the second half… November and December seemed more stable and with more resilient demand pockets than we saw during Q3. But historical trends support market prices likely having reached a bottom point [during that period].’

For 2023, Bordeaux Index counts The Bordeaux En Primeur campaign among its disappointments in terms of pricing, which was ‘just not at levels which engaged buyers’. The report also references ‘flagging wine collectors in a market where new releases were actually the most positive element [but] were given little cause to enter the fray’.

Looking forward to 2024, the overview is slightly more encouraging. The base case expectation is for limited or no further price softness, as historical trends support market prices likely having reached a bottom point last year.

If prices have settled, the question becomes when things will turn upwards? The Index predicts this will happen somewhere beyond Q1 for the coming financial year. In the meantime, ‘there is and will be scope for opportunistic trading, something we would highlight as most interesting in young-to-middle-aged Champagne, certain top Burgundies and oversold key Bordeaux wines’, the report concludes.