Sommeliers look at their
best options -
29th November 2008
By Oliver Charles Gearing -
As the number of wine funds grows, who better to
advise on purchases than those who know wine best. Below are the
comments made by some of the well known and leading sommeliers.
Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Luchets, 1996 - A mineral-driven, with
an oak background is delicious, pure and so clean. “This winemaker
doesn’t get enough respect”.
Château de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1999 - It’s not as
alcohol-driven as a California cabernet; it’s more balanced, but
still remains powerful and rich. A one that is worth keeping an eye
Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2006. Produced in Oregon
seen as a top-tier wine in three or four year’s time. A sommelier
describes this wine as a “pedigree of the winemaker”.
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Mineral, 2007. A sommelier describes the
wine as “Riesling is an undervalued variety and with this wine the
quality is way higher than the price “.
To date, wine companies have focused exclusively on first-growth
Bordeaux, from known brands and best possible vintages. For example
one fund is packed with products of storied chateaux, including
Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, and Margaux, from years such as 1982,
1989-90, 1995-96, 2000 and 2005. The $22m under management equates
to roughly 1,700 cases, stored in special warehouse. It includes one
of the priciest cases of 2005 Petrus valued at 35,000k.
Such funds are capitalizing is burgeoning Chinese, Indian and
Russian money, as the countries’ financial elites acquire a taste
for the fine wine.
This is not to say that fine wine is always up on a high. As with
any asset, it is dependent on supply and demand. If the emerging
market sees their wealth melt away thanks to a global slowdown – the
demand for pricey vintages could decrease as well.
It is fair to say with many investments, it is a question of access.
Products of the great chateaux are parceled out, often to
professional wine brokers with long-standing relationships. While
individual investors have little clout, wine funds offer proper
connections to obtain the fine wine in the first place.
When the time to sell comes, it is the professionals who usually
find buyers at the right price. For a private investor the market is
little, like swimming with sharks.
The personal pleasures of wine collecting fights against the tactile
benefits of owning and holding the precious bottles. Unfortunately,
wine funds keep a military control of their stock, since the supply
chain from chateau to final storage facility has to be “pristine and
well-documented”. Wine funds continue to gain traction. As this
economic downturn has worsened, the traditional “alternative” assets
such as commodities and real estate have been sinking together with