in the late 1990s, ultra-fine wine produced in Australia was predicted to be worthy of investment, but today that is not the case. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the general movements in the wine market during the past decade. Recent changes take into account increasing internet sales, a renaissance in the Bordeaux market, Hong Kong’s zero tax rate, Chinese speculative buying and the new international wine funds. Australia’s once popular cult wine market has eased up as well.
Australia’s Place in the Market
Contrary to predictions, the Australian wines were unable to capture and hold on to a corner of the fine wine investment market. One particular Australian First Growth that was singled out for success, Penfolds Grange, failed to keep up with investments in Bordeaux. A combination of downward price pressure, inability to compete and increasing costs all helped to nail that coffin shut. Many of Australia’s wine brokers are now out of business and unfortunate buyers of the recommended wines took a big hit at resale.
Choosing the Correct Wine for Investment
We know that it can take decades to build up a strong reputation in the market, with track record being the strongest market indicator. Other aspects that can make or break a wine investment are regional character and price evolution. The Australian wines that investors were encouraged to buy in the late 1990s and into early 2000 were in fact second or third wines from emerging producers. While they were not bad wines, they did not meet the expectations of investment wines. Other factors working against the Australian market have been the spiraling exchange rate, evolution of fashion trends and the cost of doing business.
Wine Auctions as an Indicator
Watching the auctions has been the most effective way to gauge wine trends. If a fine wine generates a lot of excitement in an auction, it is usually followed by market success. But even with emerging wines, first growths from reputable wine estates will always hold the highest probability for success.