The Fine Wine Market in 2019
Consequently, the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100—the industry benchmark—finished the year down 2.86%.
In our 2018 summary of the year, we suggested that “the relentless rise of Burgundy might soon be curtailed.” In 2019, the Burgundy 150 was the poorest performing sub-index, declining 7.3% as stockholders came to the market to cash in their chips. Its parent index, the Liv-ex 1000 fell 3.5% on the year.
The two (relative) shining lights of the year were the Champagne 50 and Italy 100 sub-indices—both (currently) excluded from the 25% US import tariffs—which ended the year up 2.25% and 4.70% respectively. Our two reports, Champagne—A Market Without Bubbles and The Fine Wines of Italy: Past, Present and Future, explore their place in the market in some detail.
Chart 1: Liv-ex 1000 – Sub-Indices One-Year Performance
Broadening of the Fine Wine Market
Bordeaux’s share of trade value has been steadily falling since 2010, dropping from 59% to 55% in the past year. It reached an all-time low in August when the region accounted for just 45% of the total trade by value, over half of what it was just seven years earlier (95%). Changing consumer preference and the rise of new fine wine regions have combined to challenge Bordeaux’s once dominant market share.
Burgundy hit a record high 24% of trade by value in August. Its 2019 share of trade value stands at 20%, up from 15% in 2018. Burgundy has been a great performing market. However, as sellers begin to realize their gains, more supply is hitting the market and the prices are starting to drift. The 7.3% decline in the Burgundy 150 in 2019 reflects increased supply hitting the market and with the 2018 EP campaign now underway, prices should be closely watched.
Italy and Champagne also saw increased activity, taking 9% each of the total trade by value. Over 7,300 individual wines have been traded last year compared to 5,700 in 2018. However, it wasn’t just wine that traded through Liv-ex this year—whisky, brandy and German gin also saw action!
Italy and Champagne have benefitted from their exclusion from the 25% import tariffs announced by the US in October, but with the proposition of 100% tariffs on all EU wines in the air, the mood amongst US merchants and collectors has darkened considerably. Should the tariffs be imposed, the market can be expected to take a knock, Champagne and Italy included.
Then there is Bordeaux 2019, rumored to be another great vintage for the region, perhaps better than 2018. However, with the much lauded and aggressively sold 2015, 2016 and 2018 vintages showing little return, this year’s campaign will test the market’s willingness to pay in a time of heightened risk aversion.
2020 could be a defining year for the global fine wine market. Not being overly hyperbolic, the proposed 100% US tariffs could completely change the market’s fundamentals. Intriguingly, the effect on En Primeur campaigns will be watched in the following months and as always, Liv-ex will provide coverage. But with nothing set in stone, the tariffs could be gone as quick as they arrived, time will tell and likely a tweet too.
Readers should take note that the views of this author represent those of a company with an interest in the wine trade. Liv-ex is the global marketplace for the wine trade. It has 475 members in 42 different countries, that range from start-ups to established merchants. Liv-ex supplies them with the tools they need to price, source and sell wine more efficiently. Liv-ex publishes the actual prices that wines are transacted at and its database contains over 644 million current and historic price points, which are relied upon by the world’s biggest fine wine players. These price points are also quoted by media outlets worldwide including Bloomberg and Reuters. Liv-ex’s mission is to make the wine market more transparent, efficient and safe for the benefit of everyone working in the trade.
The opinions of Liv-ex are their own and do not represent those of Robert Parker Wine Advocate or Wine Journal. Liv-ex contributes articles to Wine Journal that we feel are of market relevance to readers, but we do not specifically endorse this company.
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