Various factors come together to determine the value of a wine – there’s the quality of the vintage, its classification, and perhaps most significantly, how it has been rated by wine critic Robert Parker. Wines that Parker scores with 90 points or above become highly desirable often regardless of their Bordeaux classification, including wines that might otherwise slip under the radar. So, what are the factors that determine which wines are the ‘ones to watch’ whose value will improve the most?
The wines of Bordeaux were classified in 1855 and little has changed since then. Recently though, there has been some movement. Two St Emilion estates received promotion to Grand Cru Classé A status, Pavie and Angélus, resulting in a flurry of activity as buyers sought to get their hands on them.
Of course, re-classification doesn’t happen overnight, and a good deal of legislation accompanies it, giving the smart investor with a close eye on the market a chance to source wines that are being considered for promotion.
Parker re-evaluates the wine in bottle
The score that Parker initially assigns to a wine on tasting the barrel sample is a crucial one, but it’s often his in-bottle score in the years to come that determines the wine’s value on the second-hand market. A recent example was Parker’s perfect scoring of Chateau Pontet-Canet 2010– a fifth growth punching above its weight whose value has rocketed.
A special endorsement
When Hong Kong first emerged as a market for Bordeaux, First Growths dominated. In his ‘Magical 20’ tasting, Parker selected 20 wines from the 2009 Bordeaux vintage that he felt were of First Growth quality, taking attention away from the top wines and ensuring that there would be a race to buy the wines he endorsed. Wines like Cos d’Estournel and Pichon Lalande were identified for praise, and their value consequently soared.
A new market?
Who could have predicted how immense the market for fine wine in China would be? Far from slowing down, this is a market whose taste is changing, turning its attention to wines from beyond Bordeaux and exploring different wine regions. It is possible that India will soon drop its wine import duty too, and it is worth keeping an eye on markets like Russia and Singapore as well. Wines to watch out for include Chateaux with historic links to emerging markets.
When it comes to wines to watch, we can’t get it right every time of course, nor can we predict what will appeal to one man’s palate, so for every 2010 Pontet-Canet there will also be a Pichon-Baron whose value suffered slightly from not receiving a perfect score from Parker this time. Nonetheless it remains highly investible and may benefit from re-evaluation in future. Ultimately fine wine is a solid investment, and if you happen to have some of these wines in your collection, your investment will prove to be even more lucrative than you thought.