Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Capital Vintners at LIWF 2013

Capital Vintners attended the premier event of this year's London International Wine Fair (LIWF); the Union des Grands Crus (UGC) de Bordeaux. 
The new UGC President, Olivier Bernard, led the event, which returned to the LIWF for the third time. The newly-bottled 2010 vintage was the centrepiece of the event. A very well received vintage, 2010 is generally considered one of the best Bordeaux years of the last decade.  
Bernard said: "For the visitor, it presents a chance to re-taste the 2010 vintage, which was first presented in bottle at the Royal Opera House last year." 
Chateau Cantemerle, Pichon Lalande, Lascombes andLeoville Barton were all on display at the event. Some strong showings from lesser known estates were real highlights too:
Chateau Chasse-Spleen

Chateau Kirwan

Chateau Cantenac Brown 

The UGC is celebrating its fortieth year in 2013. With over 100 members it is arguably the most influential organisation in the world of wine. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eye On Asia (Part 1): Bordeaux Still Top of China's List

In the last five years there can be no denying that China has been pushing the fine wine market skyward almost single-handedly. No one could have predicted the demand from the Far East which has seen prices for certain wines skyrocket. 
In 2012 Christie's sold over £23 million worth of fine wine at just nine sales in Hong Kong. There is still a huge appeal for the most famous wines in this part of the world.  
Christie's auction house is now offering a service for Chinese investors that gives them the chance to buy more than just a few bottles of Lafite. The auction house can now offer investors the chance to buy vineyards in Bordeaux. 
In 2011 35 chateaux with vineyards in Bordeaux were sold; 21 went to Chinese buyers. In 2012 37 chateaux wre sold, with 23 going to the Chinese. Bellefont Belcier was the first classified vineyard to be sold to a Chinese buyer. Chateau La Fleur Jonquet was sold this week to a Chinese architect called Wengcheng Li. Li already owns two estates. 
Please come back next week for Part 2 of our Eye on Asia piece; China Set to Become World Leader at Wine Production

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Capital Vintners: Eye on Asia

We all know that the Chinese wine market has boomed over the last few years, but recently there has been rumours abounding that demand has been decreasing after the boom of 2009-11. Let's investigate the data.
According to International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR), the Chinese drank 160 million cases of wine in 2011, a 142 per cent increase from 2007. The IWSR also predicts that this number will increase by another 40 per cent in the next three years. 

As a side note, incredibly, 99.5 per cent of wine consumed in China in 2011 was red, white or rose. That means that only 0.5 per cent was sparkling, a statistic that will surely be utilised by the big Champagne brands - Cristal, Krug, Bollinger etc. - in the next few years.

Chinese drinkers now drink 1.4 litres of wine per year, a small amount but far higher than it was five years ago. Per capita consumption is due to increase to 2.1 litres by 2016. Interestingly, 92 per cent of wine consumed is red. White wine is on the rise, but has a long way to go before it catches up with the reds.

China's favourite source of imported wines is still France, which saw its sales multiply sixfold between 2007 and 2011. French wine now accounts for 48 per cent of the total volume of imported wine drunk in China.

Chinese home-grown wine is also on the rise. There are now 450 wine producers in the country. The Ningxia in particular is making headlines all over the world with its fantastic wines

Capital Vintners keeps a close eye on the Chinese wine market. Follow us on Twitter for the latest wine news @CapitalVintners.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bordeaux 2010 Parker Scores Released

Robert Parker released his scores for the Bordeaux 2010 vintage this weekend. 10 wines were awarded a perfect score of 100 points:

  • Latour
  • Haut-Brion
  • Petrus
  • Le Dome
  • La Violette 
  • Pontet Canet 
  • Beausejour Duffau
  • Cheval Blanc 
  • Pape Clement
  • Le Pin  

In addition to this high count of 100-point wines, eight more scored an impressive 99 points, making the 2010 vintage a 'Parker-endorsed' year just like 2009.

The standout wines in the 100 point list are Le Dome and La Violette, both small fairly unknown producers. Le Dome only produces 1,000 cases a year, therefore it is likely to be a hugely sought-after wine.

Generally considered to be more powerful than the 2009 vintage (Lafite 2010, which scored 98 points, has an alcohol content of 13.5 per cent, the highest ever achieved by the Lafite vineyard), the 2010s are proving a hit with critics who enjoy full-bodied forceful claret.

Capital Vintners is pleased to be offering its clients a range of fantastic 2010 wines

Friday, March 1, 2013

Capital Vintners Wine Auction Report

After a series of high-profile wine auctions, we examine the current state of the market in this in-depth report.

Italian Wines on the Up

On 23 February Acker, Merrall and Condit saw substantial interest in Italian vertical lots. These included a four magnum collection of Bartolo Mascarello Barolo made up of 1952, 71, 86 and 88 vintages, which nearly doubled its estimate of $4,800 and sold for $7,995.

12 bottles of Soldera Brunello sold for $6,150 and an 18-bottle lot of Gaja Sori San Lorenzo sold for $7,995, 30 per cent over its estimate.

Bordeaux versus Burgundy

The Acker, Merrall and Condit auction's top three lots were all Burgundies. Three bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2006 Romanee-Conti sold to an Asian investor for £18,000, a case of 1962 Leroy Romanee-St-Vivant sold for £16,600 and a case of Armand Rousseau 1990 Chambertin Clos de Beze sold for £12,300.

The Bordeaux wines did not get shown up by their Burgundian counterparts, accounting for 15 of the top 25 lots. Stand-out sales included a case of 1989 Haut-Brion and a 1982 Latour, both of which sold for £10,700.

At a Sotheby's auction in London on 27 February, over £650,000 worth of wine was sold, far higher than the pre-sale estimate, once again proving that the fine wine market is recovering after a turbulent last 24 months.

The star of the sale was a half case of DRC Montrachet 1993, which went to an Asian investor for £21,150.

Christie's to auction off the UK government's fine wine cellar 

On 21 March Christie's in London will be selling off a large chunk of the UK government's fine wine cellar.

As the government struggles with austerity, it cannot be seen to be luxuriating in fine wine. Recent public outrage at the number of expensive bottles in the government's cellars has led to this decision, which means that many great cases of wine will flood the market at potentially low prices.

There are some rare lots included in the auction, such as a half-case of 1961 Latour (estimated at £20-30,000), a half-case of 1970 Petrus (estimated at £4-6,000), a case of 1986 Mouton Rothschild (estimated at £5-6,000) and a case of 1986 Le Pin (estimated at £7,500-10,000).

Here at Capital Vintners we stock the finest Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italian wines.

Monday, February 25, 2013

China to exhibit its wines for the first time at LIWF 2013

The rise of Chinese involvement in the wine market can be seen more and more these days. For the first time Chinese wine will be presented at the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) 2013.

Chateau Hansen - established by the Han family in the 1980s - is China's first organic estate. Situated in Wuhai, Hansen produces around two million bottles a year

The overseer of wine production since 2010 has been Bruno Paumard, who will be the chief point of contact at the fair for Chateau Hansen.    

Chateau Hansen will be showing off its wine, Cotes du Fleuve Jaune du Desert de Gobi at the LIWF. A mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon,Cabernet Gernischt, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 16 months. Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot are grapes used frequently in Bordeaux. However Cabernet Gernischt is the Chinese variation that Chateau Hansen hopes will set this wine apart from the competition.      

The LIWF will take place between May 20-22 2013 at Excel London.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Parker inducted into Vintners Hall of Fame

Robert Parker, the most famous wine critic in the world, has been inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Vintners Hall of Fame. 

Four people were inducted - Parker, Merry Edwards, Cesar Chavez and Frank Schoonmaker - by the nominating committee chaired by wine journalist W. Blake Gray. 

Parker called his induction a "very humbling occasion" and acknowledged the fact that he was a controversial choice. 

Parker was responsible for pioneering a 100 point scoring system which is still highly influential today. Specialising in Bordeaux wines, Parker has recently branded the 2005 and 2009 vintages as two of the best in living memory. When he set up the Wine Advocate magazine in the late 1970s he was less than enthusiastic about the state of Californian wine, but since then he has been won over the region's improvements to wine production. Producers such as Screaming Eagle and Opus One - Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild's brainchild - have improved Napa's worldwide standing as a fantastic wine-growing region.    

Parker commented: "This means a lot to me from one of my favourite wine regions, many thanks." 

For more information on critics in the wine industry, check out Capital Vintners' website here

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Capital Vintners Italian Fine Wine Report

Ever since 1971, when Sassicaia became the first ever ‘Super Tuscan,’ this impressive red wine has not only grown in reputation and price, but it has put Italian wines on the map.  

The wine broke all of Italy’s outdated rules and regulations during the 1970s and 80s, giving it ‘rebel status’ within the wine industry. Sassicaia is now one of Italy’s most iconic and beloved wines.

Known for its unusually rocky soil (“sassi” is Italian for rocks or stones), Sassicaia predominantly uses the cabernet sauvignon grape, which was previously incredibly rare, as most Italian reds used the sangiovese grape instead. The best Bordeaux wines use high percentages of cabernet sauvignon, so it is clear that the Sassicaia producers were trying to emulate their neighbour’s wines.

In 1978 Sassicaia won a worldwide wine tasting competition, beating 33 other cabernets. The panel included Clive Coates and Serena Sutcliffe and cemented Sassicaia’s position on the world stage as a force to be reckoned with. 


Ornellaia is another of Italy’s top class wines. 

A Salmanazar (9l bottle) of Ornellaia 2005 was sold in 2007 at auction for $28,000. More recently, Ornellaia wines have been featured among the world’s greatest wines at auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. This month six double-magnums spanning 1997 to 2002 will be presented at a Sotheby’s auction with estimates of $5,000.

Ornellaia grapes are hand-harvested and chosen by hand from the sorting table. The grapes are aged in ‘barriques’ for 12-18 months.  

Masseto (derived from the Italian word “massi”, which means large rocks, due to the big lumps of clay that are present in the soil) officially debuted in 1987. In 2007 a bottle of 1987 Masseto was valued at £150. 

Currently this vintage is valued at £350. Its unique character and a tiny output of 30,000 bottles a year makes this Italian wine incredibly sought-after.  


Produced by the Antinori wine company, which can trace its history back to 1385, Tignanello is their flagship wine. The vineyard sits high above sea-level and is 85 per cent sangiovese.

The 2005 vintage has an average bottle price of £67. 

Italian Wine: Eye on the Market
Asian markets currently account for a third of the total output of Masseto wine, but the wine growers are keen not to increase their volumes and risk decreasing the quality.

Jack Hibberd, head of Data and Statistics at Liv-ex, has pointed out the value offered by Tuscan wines: “Super Tuscans have all performed relatively strongly in the past year, especially compared to Bordeaux.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Capital Vintners at the NZ Trade Fair 2013

The New Zealand Trade Fair 2013 took place at Lord's Cricket Ground yesterday.

Dozens of top-quality New Zealand wins were on show, including Cloudy Bay, Villa Maria, Esk Valley and Oyster Bay.

The focus was very much on New Zealand as a fantastic wine-growing island, with great conditions for a variety of grapes and an excellent infrastructure capable of distributing overseas.

With a fantastic setting behind us and a room full of enthusiastic wine growers, distributors and critics, the mood was jovial and relaxed. Capital Vintners' representatives took full advantage of the occasion and tasted some great wines.

Our highlights were:

- Elephant Hill Pinot Noir 2011
- Cloudy Bay Pelorus
- Toi Toi Riesling 2011

The UK is New Zealand's second largest export market. NZ is also the fastest growing New World country of origin for volume & value in the UK off-trade. The average retail price for NZ wine in the UK off-trade is still the highest of all countries at £6.38 per bottle (versus £5.06 for all wine).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Capital Vintners Bordeaux 2010 Report

James Suckling shares his thoughts on the Bordeaux 2010 vintage.......

The renowned wine critic James Suckling has awarded 11 wines 100 points from the Bordeaux 2010 vintage. Bearing in mind he only gave a perfect 100 score to nine wines in 2009 - often hailed as the greatest Bordeaux vintage for a generation - this can only be good news for the 2010 wines.

So here are the 100 pointers:
Chateau Margaux
- Cheval Blanc
- Latour
- Margaux
- Vieux Chateau Certan
- Lafleur
- Le Pin
- Mission Haut-Brion
- Mouton Rothschild
- Petrus
- Ducru Beaucaillou
- Pontet Canet

Suckling singled out the Cheval Blanc as being particularly spectacular, calling it "truly one of the greatest Chevals ever".

In 2011 Robert Parker remarked that the 2010 vintage was special and nearly as great as the 2005 and 2009 vintages. He gave 10 estates 100-point potential.

Capital Vintners looks forward to supplying clients with the fantastic 2010 vintage.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Capital Vintners Burgundy Report Continued

A selection of the finest DRC wines 
It's been another busy week for Burgundies across the globe. 

DRC 2010
The Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2010 vintage has been released, with the owner Aubert de Villaine calling it 'Homeric'.

The vintage has so far attracted some positive attention from critics, including Andrew Jefford, who remarked that it was "a privilege to taste Burgundy of this quality: limpid, resonant and sustained." 

This March in Hong Kong the auction house Christie's has announced that it will host a sale of solely Burgundy wines.  

There will be two days of sales as the Henry Tang Collectionis sold off and expected to take £2.4 million from the 810 lots.

Mr Tang has been collecting Burgundy wines for over 30 years and his collection is the first to be offered by Christie's in a stand-alone sale in Asia.

It is thought that the stand-out lots will be a case of 1978 DRC Montrachet (estimate at £49,000) and a magnum of 1978 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux (estimate at £13,000).

Friday, February 1, 2013

Capital Vintners: Burgundy 2011 Report

The Burgundy Report called it a "precocious vintage". Others have noted that the 2011 Burgundies could be something special. The buzz is good so far for this highly sought-after French wine region.

The red Burgundies have been described as having a 'lightness in body, shape and mouthfeel and a focus on purity.' Some producers have already been singled out as potentially having a sensational vintage - Vosne-Romanee and Henri Gouges included. It should be an early-drinking vintage

It's only the sixth time on record that harvesting in the region began in August. The first two weeks of the harvest saw some great weather. Most of the vineyards picked in the early mornings to avoid the heat. Cool grapes are the key to a great vintage, so grapes were packed immediately into refrigerated vans.

So it looks like the Burgundy 2011 vintage will be small but excellent.    

Capital Vintners supplies the finest Burgundies to its customers and will look forward to getting hold of the 2011 vintage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Capital Vintners Special Report: Fine Wine and China

In 2008 the fine wine market was affected by a single piece of legislation in Hong Kong to such an extent that the small island off the coast of China is now, after only four years, Bordeaux’s number one export market.

The duty on fine wine was reduced from 40 to 0 per cent and Hong Kong instantly got the bug for fine wine consumption and investment. In 2010 the Liv-ex 100 rose by 40 per cent, compared to the FTSE’s 9 per cent increase. Most analysts put this huge increase largely down to this reduction in duty-related customs in China.

Arguably the most famous wine in the world – Lafite Rothschild – saw a rise in value of the majority of its vintages by 70-100 per cent in 2010, as Chinese palates fell in love with the fantastic Bordeaux First Growth.

Since then the Chinese market has rapidly diversified, as investors come to realise there is more to France than just a tiny section of the Bordeaux region. The First Growths remain the ultimate investment opportunity, but many other French regions and chateaux are now highly desirable. Wines from Burgundy, Côtes du Rhone and Champagne are now all sought-after in Asia.   

As a gateway to mainland China, Hong Kong not only has a huge geographical advantage, but it has also entered into an agreement with China to allow wine to be transported to the mainland under enhanced customs regulations, known as the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).

As the market grows and diversifies, investors are starting to look to the ‘lesser’ known wines. Chinese portfolios have become more advanced as more people have more access to knowledge on the market. 

Demand Outstripping Supply

The Premier Cru wines – Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Mouton – only produce around 180,000 bottles a year. Bearing this tiny supply in mind, a nation of well over one billion people will dramatically push up the demand for the top wines. With such a large potential market, wine companies and distributors have flocked to Asia to take advantage of the rapid increase in consumption and investment.

Asian buyers now account for 60 per cent of Sotheby’s global wine sales. One example of this extraordinary boom in fine wine sales was the Lafite 2009, which sold for £43,000 a case in Hong Kong, three times the London price. Wine auctions in Hong Kong regularly break records, with cases of top wines going for £30,000+.  

The Asian Connection

Business relationships between Europe and Asia are being formed all the time. In November 2012 the first chateau with Grand Cru Classé status – Bellefont-Belcier – was bought by a Chinese businessman. This is a clear indication that the Chinese influence over the fine wine market will only increase in the coming years.  

Robert Parker’s infamous journal, the Wine Advocate, is opening up a large office in Singapore. Parker is due to step down as editor soon, and will be replaced by his Singapore-based Asia correspondent, Lisa Perrotti-Brown. This is yet another signifier of the change in focus in the global wine market towards the East. Emerging nations with growing middle classes with Western ideals will flock to fine wine, seen as one of most prized status symbols. 

Capital Vintners: Champagne 2012 report

After initial worries about the Champagne 2012 harvest - poor weather and a huge harvest shortage - it would appear that the vintage could be a special one.

Thanks to a great end to the season (ideal weather conditions throughout August and September), the Champagne 2012 vintage has already been compared to the 2002 and 2008 vintages - both great years.

Bruno Paillard, a leading Champagne producer, has noted that "the grapes are perfectly healthy, with high levels of sugar but also acidity."  

The overall quantity of the harvest is down 40 per cent on 2011, which will push up demand even more than usual, especially as most people are talking of the vintage as being rather special.

Dom Perignon's chef de cave, Richard Geoffrey, is very optimistic about his chateau will produce a superb 2012 champagne. He told Decanter magazine that "the quality and the intensity are definitely there to make an outstanding vintage."

At Capital Vintners we will be keeping a close eye on the 2012 vintages and we are looking forward to sourcing some fantastic bubbly!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Capital Vintners: Fine Wine Investment 2013 Report (Part 3)

The final part of our 2013 fine wine investment report focuses on some countries which often get overlooked  in the wine market.


In the last four years the wine consumption per capita in Poland has increased by 14 per cent to 2.05 litres. There is increasing evidence that points towards the Polish population moving away from the stereotypical vodka and turning to wine. Granted, wine consumption in Poland is still smaller than most European countries, but its economy is growing rapidly and eastern European countries by and large have a love of alcoholic beverages. Poles spent 430 million euros on wine in 2011.


Denmark and Sweden have seen huge increases in the wine consumption per capita in the last four years. Denmark's consumption increased by 27.1 per cent to 35.09 litres per person, and Sweden's consumption increased by 22.08 per cent to 22.08 litres per person. These two countries are among the fastest growing economically developed countries in the world in terms of wine consumption.


The oldest wine industry in the New World has seen a sharp increase in production - 40 per cent between 2006 and 2011 - and an increase in quality too.
According to the Mexico Sales Alliance only 35 per cent of wine consumed in Mexico is produced domestically

Consumption is also on the rise. According to the Mexican National Wine Council, consumption has doubled in the last ten years and the near future also looks good. This increase is mainly due to a large youth population beginning to drink wine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Capital Vintners: Fine Wine Investment 2013 Report (Part 2)

Who will be the next China? That's the question on everyone's lips as we enter 2013.

The front-runners are India, Brazil and Russia. But as well as the BRIC nations, there are other dark horses that may feature in the global market.


Now that protectionist regulations have been staved off and Brazilian wine producers have come to a provisional agreement over wine imports. There are still things that need to be ironed out though. For example there are talks of a minimum price for all imported wines, which would obviously harm the market and make it difficult for distributors to break into the country.  

The overall aim for the Brazilian wine industry is to double sales by 2016, reaching a sales volume of 40 million litres per year. The shorter-term aim for 2013 is to increase sales by 35 per cent to 27 million litres.


Russia's wine market is almost exclusively wine for consumption rather than investment.

The volume of the wine market has risen from 409 million litres in 2000 to 1058 million litres in 2011, so the market has more than doubled in the last decade.

Modern Russia is synonymous with the modern billionaire. Once a few of the oligarchs start to boost the wine market in Russia, there is bound to be a bump in investment opportunities. Added to the fact that Russia is outside the Euro means that it has avoided the economic crisis on its borders.


With 1.2 billion people (and rising), India is thought by many to be the untapped wine market of the near future. The current size of the total wine market stands at 1.2 million cases and it has been reported that the market is growing at a rate of 25-30 per cent. However the wine consumption per capita is miserly; only two teaspoons per person! With a growing middle class developing Western aspirations and tastes, that figure is only going to go one way. Small cultural changes, like Bollywood actresses drinking wine on screen, combined with a concerted marketing and PR effort by wine companies, will ensure India is the number one target for the industry in the coming years.

In the final part of the report tomorrow we will focus on the dark horses of the global wine market: Nigeria, Mexico and Poland.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Capital Vintners: Fine Wine Investment 2013 Report

This week we will be focusing on the year ahead, with an emphasis on the areas of the market we think will see growth in the next 12 months.

After a disappointing first half to 2012, the fine wine market bounced back in the final few months, leading to key pundits and experts predicting a solid 2013 for the trade.The Wine Investment Fund has predicted that the Liv-ex 100 will end this year 14 per cent above where it finished in 2012.

A 24 per cent decrease in the First Growths in 2012 has led to a real slump in the finest Bordeaux wines, especially Lafite. With high hopes for 2013 and a likelihood of a worldwide economic recovery on the horizon, this year should see a resurgence in the market and the very best wines.

2012 saw the rise of the 'other' French wines. Now it's just not the big Bordeaux wines, but Burgundies and Cote de Rhone wines which are making moves. Names such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Guigal are now becoming just as ubiquitous as Haut-Brion and Mouton Rothschild.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Liv-ex indices finish 2012 strongly

After a rather disappointing year for fine wine investment, there was at least good news from the Liv-ex indices as we enter 2013. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 finished 2012 on 260.78, a six-month high. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 achieved the strongest finish to the year, up 1.8 per cent to 302.22, its highest level since 7 July.

The first six months of 2012 were so poor though that even a strong end to the year meant that the key indices fell over the course of 2012.  The Bordeaux 500 index performed best, with a decline of 5 per cent