Top 10 fine wine labels of 2016

A list of the top 10 best-performing investment wine labels of 2016 shows top Bordeaux wines reclaiming the spotlight as well as a continued broadening of the market as a whole.

Liv-ex reported that, over the last year, more than 4,000 fine wines from 670 different brands have traded on the exchange – up from 3,000 wines and 265 brands in 2015.

The top 10 were chosen on the basis of their performance on the Fine Wine 1000, a collection of indices that tracks activity for most traded brands from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Italy, the Rhône and, of course, the generalised ‘Rest of the World’ area.

The result of analyses show that, contrary to popular wisdom, there is still room for appreciation in Burgundy’s flagship wine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and signs of life yet in the Rhône.

  1. Clarence Haut-Brion 2010

Haut-Brion has always been a hot topic among wine collectors, and second wines in general have been leading the way for some time.

The 2010 was in fact one of the worst performing vintages of this wine, dropping 46% from its En Primeur release price by the spring of 2015.

The wine is still comfortably below its initial price, which makes it a tempting target for collectors searching for a bargain within a big name estate.

  1. La Tache 2006

Most would argue that the average price of Burgundy’s most sought-after brand – now £18,141 according to recent data – is so prohibitive that there couldn’t possibly be room for further appreciation.

It turns out that this is only really true in the case of DRC’s most storied vineyards – La Romanée-Conti. And, as in the case of second wines, if a buyers wants a slice of DRC but doesn’t want to fork out £113,000, they turn to La Tâche, Echèzeaux, Grands Echèzeaux, Richebourg or Romanée-St-Vivant.

  1. DRC Grand Echézeaux 2011

This is another, perhaps better, example of a DRC label that gives true value for money. Prices are closer to a first growth from a top vintage when the market was at its peak – and there is no doubt that the market for top Burgundy is surging at the moment.

  1. Petit Mouton 2006

In comparison to the 2010 Clarence, this sought-after second wine has appreciated over 150% since its En Primeur release, and the average appreciation for its vintages between 2005 and 2014 has been 98%.

  1. DRC Grand Echézeaux 2004

Another example of buyers honing in on lesser vintages due their being the cheapest wines from a particular brand – at least for the time being.

  1. Salon 1997

Champagne as a region has been widely celebrated over the past two years, and although total trade took a slight dip in 2016, its overall market share of 5.3% is still well over the 2.8% seen in 2014.

Demand is now mainly focused on the 2000, 2002 and 2004 vintages and, in select cases, the 2005, so anything from the 1990s is precious indeed. To offer an example, the 1995 Salon appreciated a whopping 375% between its release and June/July of 2015.

  1. DRC Echézeaux 2010

Yet another DRC label indicating that rumours of a price collapse are premature. From as good a year as 2010 and a tenth of the price of Romanée-Conti, it shows why these wines are gaining traction.

  1. Paul Jaboulet Ainé, Hermitage La Chapelle 2005

The Rhône is often seen as the forgotten region – an area of great potential which has somehow failed to excite collectors and move the secondary market.

The problem seems to be one of infallible consistency, which makes the desire to possess one particular vintage over another substantially less.

The Rhône 100 sub-index started to drop in 2011 and hit an alarming low of 154 in September last year. Things have improved since then and the index now sits at 170 – though it’s still far behind the Italy 100 at 244.

Jaboulet’s ‘La Chapelle’ has headlined sales at both Sotheby’s or Christie’s in the past, especially rare old vintages such as the 1961.

  1. Guigal, Côte Rôtie Ampuis 2010

Another northern Rhône label which possibly points to growing interest in the region as we head into 2017.

Though cheaper than the La Landonne 2010, the Ampuis has doubled in price since 2014 while the La Landonne has had a few ups and downs.

  1. Pape Clement 2009

The most successful fine wine label of 2016 is a glowing example of Robert Parker’s continued hold over the fine wine industry. After stepping back from reviewing Bordeaux earlier this year, he gave this vintage a perfect 100-point score in an unofficial review and sent prices soaring. The wine saw a 35% increase in value in April this year, and has stayed virtually at that level since.

A stark reminder that Parker’s scores continue to carry tremendous weight even from the sidelines.