Whites for the cellar

Riesling Grapes
Riesling Grapes (source: Wikipedia)

When we talk about wine investment we seldom mention white wines, and least of all dry whites – it is true that dessert wines can age majestically but their dry counterparts are not known to age particularly well. This is largely due to the fact that red wines are high in tannins, which help them to age, and white wines have significantly less tannin. However there are a few exceptions among dry whites that deserve a bit of time in the cellar in order to fully reach their potential.

The best white Burgundy

The best Chardonnay in the world comes from Burgundy and while the grape is not known for wines destined for the cellar, the sheer complexity of the top white Burgundies can take a few years to emerge. The best wines from top producers will benefit from cellaring in order to become rich, deep, and complex. Continue reading

A Word on That Prosecco Row

Since the turn of the new year, the wine industry has turned its attention to the well-priced and popular fizz Prosecco, and in particular a row that is ‘bubbling’ between the producers of the wine in its native Italy and those that who are selling it here in the UK. Producers are unhappy that the wine is being sold on tap in the UK’s on-trade.

A problem of definition

 Prosecco must come from a bottle (source: Wikipedia)
Prosecco must come from a bottle (source: Wikipedia)

The problem relates to the definition of the wine – the wine that is sold in barrel and served via a tap is the same as bottled Prosecco, but according to legislation there must be a clear distinction between the two in terms of how they must be labelled and presented to the consumer. There are strict EU laws dictating how sparkling wines must be sold, and producers are angered that these are being ignored by those serving the wine on tap. By definition, the wine they are selling cannot be called Prosecco, because Prosecco must come from a bottle. Continue reading

Should I invest in Champagne?

As Bordeaux licks its wounds following a couple of weak campaigns, investors are often tempted to look to wines from other regions. While Bordeaux will inevitably recover, it does give us a chance to reflect on other wines that might be of interest to the investor, in particular Champagne. In the last decade, Champagne has become a popular choice for investors and deserves to be taken seriously as an investment grade wine.

How does Champagne investment differ from Bordeaux?

ChampagneChampagne doesn’t usually offer the longevity of Bordeaux – it isn’t destined to be stored for half a century by any means, but the top wines will cellar for a decade after release and the wines of some vintages much longer. There is no ‘En Primeur’ campaign for Champagne – although the media attention that a release of a top vintage wine warrants has a lot in common with En Primeur, as wine merchants grapple to secure their allocation.

One reason why investors are drawn to Champagne is it is perceived to be good value compared to wines of a similar level. You could expect to pay in the region of £80 – £120 per bottle (on release) for wines like Taittinger’s Comte de Champagne and Moet’s Cuvée Dom Pérignon. The marketplace for fine Champagne is both buoyant and global. And as many corks are popped not long after release, the remaining wines that are laid down tend to increase in value quite rapidly.

Encouraging signs

There are signs from the last 12 months that the market for investment grade Champagne has really taken off – this is often attributed to two very strong vintages being released in a short period of time (2002 and 2004 are both excellent). While wines like Dom Perignon will always be popular, there are also signs that investors are broadening their search to include wines not previously considered. Liv-ex reported on this trend in August 2013. Similarly Decanter reported on the growing success of Champagne as an investment grade wine last year, and it seems to show no signs of slowing down.

Portfolio diversity

Ultimately it will only benefit you to have some diversity in your portfolio, so why not take a look at what Champagne has to offer? The top wines are only made in vintage years so there are no ‘red herrings’ among them – the quality speaks for itself, and has never been better. As long as corks are being popped and Champagne is increasingly recognised as a great wine for food pairing as well as merely a celebratory fizz, this trend seems set to continue.