Our Top Five... Best investment fine wines


2015-06-26 12:16:20


Our Top Five... Best investment fine wines

We take a look at the best and most profitable plonk available on the collectors markets

Fermented grape juice - one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world, and considered a sign of class and sophistication. Millions enjoy a nice glass of red or white at the end of the day, but many enjoy wine in a very different way: as an investment.

Wine is one of the most successful and profitable alternative investments around; in 2010, fine wines produced a return of 40.5%, according to Liv-Ex. The Wine Investment Fund predicts a 21% increase in the value of wine this year.

This week, we review the top five best wines to invest in . . .

  1. Chteau Lafite

This exceptional wine comes from the Bordeaux region of south-west France - the centre of the fine wine world. One of only four Chteaux granted 'first growth' status in the 1855 Classification ordered by Napoleon III, Lafite is widely considered to be the best wine in the world.

Lafite is the produced by the Rothschild estate in the Mdoc region of Bordeaux. The vineyards cover 107 hectares, and produce around 35,000 cases of Lafite per year. Lafite primarily consists of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, one of the most recognised varieties in the world.

Lafite makes one of the best wine investments in the world. In 2009, the 2008 vintage doubled in price within two weeks of release. Earlier this month, Acker, Merall and Condit's wine auction was topped by a case of 1982 Lafite, which sold for an astounding $61,000. Similarly, a case from the same year sold for $65,725 in a Hart Davis Hart fine wine auction - nearly doubling its low estimate.

Most notably, a single bottle of 1787 Lafite - which has Thomas Jefferson's initials etched into the glass - sold for $160,000 at Christie's in 1985. This makes it one of the most expensive wines ever sold.

The intense interest in Lafite - and Bordeaux generally - has recently been driven by the emerging Chinese market. This trend looks set to continue.

  1. Chteau Ptrus

Ptrus is another Bordeaux red wine which has performed fantastically in recent years. The estate, owned by JP Moueix, is located in the Pomerol appellation. Ptrus consist almost entirely of Merlot grapes; although it is not officially classified as such, it produces only first growth wines.

A relatively small estate, the vineyards cover 11.4 hectares and produce an average of 3,500 cases of Ptrus per year. However, the prices associated with this outstanding and highly collectible red are very significant - any serious wine investor should aspire to own a classic Ptrus vintage.

Last September, two magnums of 1961 Ptrus sold for just shy of $50,000, while in January 2011, we reported on the sale of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's wine collection at Sotheby's, which saw 12 bottles of the 1982 vintage realise $77,564, smashing its estimate. The auction house expects similar prices for its March 4 event, where 12 bottles of the 1990 vintage could sell for $55,000.

  1. Mouton

Hailing from the same area as Lafite and also owned by the Rothschild family, Mouton is considered one of the world's best clarets. Despite sales equal to Lafite, it was excluded from the 1855 first growth classification; this was eventually remedied in 1973.

Like Lafite, Mouton is primarily made form Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, grown on slopes above the Gironde Estuary. Collecting Mouton is very profitable; earlier this month Liv-Ex reported that Mouton currently commands "the lion's share of first growth trade", with the 2000 vintage posting a 6% rise in value.

The 1982 vintage originally sold $390 per case and was auctioned at the same price per bottle until 1996. The year after, 600 bottles sold at Christie's for a staggering $420,500 - $700 per bottle. Next month, an auction of Chris de Burgh's wine collection includes 62 magnums of Mouton, ranging from 1945 and 2005, estimated to realise 70,000-90,000.

  1. Haut Brion

This classic wine comes from the Graves region of Bordeaux, and was also classified as 'first growth' in 1855. It is owned by the Dillon family and is grown on an estate covering 48.35 hectares. Haut Brion consists of a roughly equal balance of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The vineyards produce around 12,000 cases per year of the beautiful red, as well as a few hundred cases of white wine - made from Smillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Like Mouton, Haut Brion is immensely popular at the moment; if an investor picks the right vintage, they could be on to a winner.

A case from 1989 sells for an average price of $18,075 - approximately 50% more than a 1989 Lafite and more than triple the prices achieved by other first growths from that year. In May 2010, Acker Merrall & Condit sold 12 bottles of the 1945 Haut Brion for $48,800, and according to Liv-Ex, the current average European broker price for a single bottle of the 1945 vintage is $5,027.

  1. Latour

Located in a similar region to Lafite and Mouton, Latour is another 'first growth' red which has maintained perennial popularity among collectors and investors. It is composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, grown on 78 hectares of vineyards - around 18,000 cases are produced annually.

Latour is considered a "firm and reliable" investment, bringing great returns to investors with an eye for a good vintage. The 1982 Latour was awarded 100/100 on critic Robert Parker's renowned scale, a case of which sold for $26,290 last month. In 2009, a six litre bottle of the 1961 vintage sold for $62,000.

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