FINE+RARE Quarterly Report: 2014 Q3

Andy Sewell Bordeaux220 (2)The Market:
The Bordeaux market has been suffering for three years now: talk to any merchant about what is selling well and the last thing that they will say is “Bordeaux”.  Those with an interest in prices have been calling the bottom for some time now, though it has had the air of the boy crying “Wolf!”.  That said, it looks like we may have found a turning point.

“Value” Bordeaux continues to sell well: 2010 Tour St Bonnet (in magnums) was our third best-selling wine by volume in quarter three, though what may interest those with a more speculative interest is that demand at the top appears to be strengthening.  First growths are selling, and selling well.  Moreover, the wines “in between” are starting to find their market: Robert Parker’s “Baltimore Bounce” – his upgrade to 100 points for the 2010 – brought on demand that was reminiscent of the good old days.  Are the good times coming back?

FINE+RARE Highlights:
The highlight of September was the release of “the Barolo Cellar”.  This was one of the most remarkable collections we have ever seen, and probably one of the biggest personal collections of Barolo in existence.  More than thirty growers covered, from the big names to those rarely seen or even heard of outside Piedmont.  The provenance of the cellar was impeccable, with nearly all the wines coming direct from the producers and stored in a quite remarkable private cellar since.  Demand for these rare and exceptional bottles was very strong, though some bottles and cases remain, along with a remarkable selection of Borgogno going back to 1947, which we have yet to release.TheBaroloCellarHomepageBannerEnter850x250

Our cellar service goes from strength to strength.  We store our own wine and that of our customers in two secure chambers at London City Bond in Tilbury.  The chambers are our own, and are manned by our own dedicated team.  Private Reserve customers of FINE+RARE not only benefit from secure and fully insured temperature-controlled storage, we also offer real-time valuations and, for sellers, one of the most comprehensive routes to market available.

September also saw an exceptional F+R dinner at Alyn Williams: the Clos St Jacques dinner.  Seven different wines, from all five growers plus the negociant-bottled Dominique Laurent.  The highlight of the evening was a brace of Rousseaus: a full account of the evening is HERE.csjsml

Sales: The Numbers:
We sold 4,421 different wines in the third quarter of 2014.  Our best-selling wine by value was 2010 Ch. Montrose (Mr Parker’s influence is still clearly very strong), with notable mentions going to The Last Drop 50 year old Blended Whisky and 1990 Cos d’Estournel.

By volume the runaway winner was 2013 Cotes du Roussillon Occultum Lapidem from Michel Chapoutier’s Domaine Bila-Haut.  Notable mentions go to the aforementioned 2010 Tour St Bonnet and the outstanding 2004 Guy Charlemagne Mesnillesime.

Buying:
Ex-cellar sourcing is a key part of what we do at FINE+RARE: wherever possible we try to get as close to source as possible.  Italy has been of growing importance to us over the past two years: hard work in Piedmont has paid off with a plethora of direct relationships with some of the region’s best growers, and in July we visited Montalcino.  We already offer the Godfather of Brunello estates – Biondi Santi – direct from the domain and have added to this prestigious relationship, notably with ex-cellar offers from Valdicava and Salicutti.  We are very much looking forward to the release of the 2010 Brunellos next year.

Looking forward, we will be in the Rhone in October and, of course, Burgundy in November.  A flying visit to Maison Louis Jadot earlier this month confirmed that the 2013 Burgundies have considerable potential; we only hope that prices remain reasonable after another short crop.

The 2014 harvests are still coming in as we speak, and in Bordeaux there is talk, at last, of a good vintage.  If this is true, and if the Bordelais can price it correctly, this may just be what the market needs to get up and running again.

To finish:
Just over twenty years ago, our CEO & Chairman Mark Bedini and Buying Director Bud Cuchet decided that they could do better than their employers, and FINE+RARE was born.  More to follow on this topic, but we have now been trading successfully for twenty years: something that we are very proud of, and both Mark and Bud remain at the heart of FINE+RARE.

Joss Fowler
Director of Fine Winemontalcinohillsml