As the 2009 vintage wines enter their bottles, another round of wine scoring by the critics has begun. As always, there is one set of scores in particular which the wine world has been awaiting: those of leading critic Robert Parker. This year, however, seems to be particularly significant, as Parker's scores suggest that 2009 is the best vintage of all time, with an unprecedented 19 wines receiving the ultimate accolade of 100 points from Parker; more than the great modern vintages of 1982, 2000 and 2005 combined!
Parker's wine scoring system is the pre-eminent means of rating the quality of investment grade wine, and his scores traditionally have a significant impact on the wine investment market. Parker's scale ranks wine upon its colour, appearance, aroma, bouquet, flavour, finish and overall quality. Ranked from 50-100, receiving the ultimate accolade of 100 points from Parker, can have an incredible impact on the price and investment potential of wine. Indeed, just 24 hours following the release of Parker's scores, the market moved up $100 million, showing the scale of the financial impact Parker can have on the fine wine market.
So, in real terms, what impact have Parker's scores had on prices? Back in November 2011, Vin-X recommended Cos d'Estournel 2009 to its clients, and the wine could be snapped up at a price of £2,595. Since Parker's scores have been released, the same wine has been trading on Liv-ex at £3,500 - up 35% in three months. Similarly, the Montrose, which was selling at just £1,500 at the end of 2011, is currently trading at £2,500.
As an example of the effect that a 100 point score can create, the 1982 vintage leads the way as one of the best vintages of modern times. When we compare the 2009 vintage to the 1982 vintage, there are clear similarities; indeed, Parker himself stated in the latest edition of his publication, The Wine Advocate, that "2009 is the greatest vintage I have tasted in Bordeaux since 1982, of which it is a modern-day version". Therefore, it is worth comparing the established 1982 vintage with the 2009 in order to get a feel for potential future movements in the wine investment market.
Firstly, it should be noted that release prices in 1982 were significantly lower than the release prices today. The First Growth wines, for example, (the wines traditionally established as the best wines in the world) were released at an average of £275 per case in 1982. With Lafite 1982 selling today at £42,648, this means the wine has a current return in the order of 15,400% for anyone who bought at first stage.
2009 release prices ranged between £8000-10,000 for the First Growth wines, significantly higher than the release values twenty years ago. However, at Vin-X we believe the 2009 vintage still has strong potential. If the 2009 Lafite is able to equal the selling price of the 1982, at £42,648, it will still have a premium of 292%!
Similarly, the Latour 2009 could represent a serious bargain based upon the 1982 vintage. The Latour 1982 is currently selling at £19,268 whilst the 2009 vintage is only on the market at £12,829 - an attractive option to the keen investor.
Ultimately, when looking at wines as an investment option, what needs to be remembered is that wine is a valued commodity across the world. It is not just the UK who are clambering over one another to purchase the 100 point wines, there is similar demand across the whole of Europe, USA, and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). As Chateaux produce only around 18,000 cases per annum there is going to be worldwide demand for a very limited supply, which as it is consumed becomes increasingly rare and more valuable. As a result, demand vastly outstrips supply, meaning that the market will be drawn increasingly upwards.
It is still very early days, and only a week has passed since Parker released his scores, however, there have already been some dramatic effects on price, with some wines such as the Smith Haut Lafitte nearly doubling in value overnight from £700 pre-scores to £1,300 post-scores. This shows just how dramatic the effect on the wine investment market Parker can have, and just how significant a year the 2009 vintage is in the world of fine wines.