Fine wines between investment and collecting – Part One

Can we consider fine wines a sort of safe haven? It is a question that, sooner or later, all wine lovers ask themselves, especially by observing the trend of a market that, net of some small physiological slowdown, seems to have known no crisis for years. The answers, as always when faced with complex questions, are more than one.

Let’s start by saying that fine wines are a form of investment but that the characteristics of the latter change a lot depending on the attitude of those who buy: there are those who have a purely “financial” approach and who buy, building a sort of investment portfolio – sometimes relying on real financial consultants specialized in the sector – and always keeping in mind the risk component that is typical of each operation of this type. It is a dynamic similar to that of other investment sectors, with, however, a differentiating element compared to all other markets: when you buy a fine wine, you buy an object of a certain economic value, with a very strong experiential allure, capable of mitigating the imponderable factors connected to an investment, which is always a bet after all. The “investment” wine, in fact, remains first of all an excellent wine product, which in the worst case scenario can be consumed, giving the owner (and his lucky diners) a probable memorable experience, able to compensate for any loss economic. Precious wine, therefore, from this point of view, is a type of investment that we could define as less “cold”, because it is in any case linked to a passion and a certain bon vivant taste.

Alongside this approach, in some ways also purely speculative, there is that of the collector, that is, of those who buy – with love and competence – with the idea of ​​building a cellar, dynamic and varied from the point of view of the references and their origin, where the great classics flank new names with good future potential. A collection, therefore, that acquires value over time and as a whole and designed for a personal purpose, without perhaps excluding the opportunity for a good sale at the right time.

If these are the identikits of those who invest in wine, we can say that even fine wine has one.

There are, in fact, some parameters that determine its economic value: from vintages that have obtained high scores to special or “limited edition” editions, passing through the so-called special formats, such as magnum or double magnum with limited and numbered productions.

As for the labels, however, the great icons – such as the Premier Cru Classé of Bordeaux, the Grand Cru of Burgundy or our Barolo and Supertuscan – remain such and are almost unscratchable but, as the latest edition of the Liv ranking certifies -ex recently published, the panorama is constantly evolving with a great growth of Italian fine wines and a new generation of Californian wines but also German, Chilean and Australian wines that in the ranking – a true reference point for the secondary market – have obtained an excellent placement in 2021.

What determines these evolutions is not simply the normal qualitative growth of the cellars or the natural evolution of taste but also and above all the trend of international criticism: influential personalities such as James Suckling and Robert Parker, with their evaluations, have not only opened the way to new trends, but to all intents and purposes orient the market trend.

In Italy one of the most obvious examples is represented by the recent events in Montalcino, here in the last decade the serious and tenacious work of various companies to raise the quality level of their Brunello has paid off and has been awarded internationally, but we must not forget that without Suckling’s falling in love with the village and its most famous wine, probably some wineries, more or less known, would not have enjoyed the incredible visibility they have today.

When it comes to fine wines, one cannot ignore the purchase channel: wine is “a living food” that must be treated with a series of precautions, because too many handovers and inaccurate logistics can damage its quality and value. For this reason, the best advice is always to buy directly from the cellar or from professionals who work by assignment and for this they understand the economic and oenological value of wine and are also adequately equipped to minimize risks. For the same reasons, the other fundamental element is storage: as we told you some time ago (link), the correct conservation of wine is a decisive step to keep it in excellent condition and to support all its evolutionary potential, both to be able to consume it and to be able to monetize your purchase. There are tricks to build a home cellar that is suitable for storage, but it must also be said that the domestic context, however well equipped, can rarely meet all the ideal storage conditions. Starting from this awareness, for example, our service on request and at no additional cost was born, to keep our customers’ bottles in optimal conditions, for as long as they want.

Alongside the purchase and storage channel, there is a third essential factor for those who want to consider their collection of fine wines a financial investment: the sales channel. Selling privately implies the possibility of proposing more advantageous and attractive prices for those who buy but the limit is represented by the fact that one moves in an opaque area, where there are no well-defined rules and everything depends, in essence, on the seriousness of the two parties. in question and their ability to create mutual trust that allows negotiations. The best solution, therefore, is to look at specialized companies which, having access to the primary market, are not only always up to date on market trends and criticism, but also adopt policies that guarantee both seller and buyer.

These are the same professional realities that help to understand the right economic value of the bottle. The evaluation of a wine is something complex and to some extent uncertain because the price does the market – for example the aforementioned Liv-ex – but we are talking about a market used to working on so-called virgin lots (closed wooden cases and sealed) and not on individual bottles and always in compliance with the storage and logistics conditions we talked about a little while ago. The individual private seller, therefore, inevitably finds himself at a disadvantage if he decides to act independently, without the intervention of specialized companies who can guide the sale in the most appropriate and advantageous way.

It is therefore always useful – if not necessary – to deal with realities with experience and negotiation and technical skills, to better set up the sale or simply to exchange some opinion on one’s private cellar, but also to understand the dynamics of a certainly more complex market. variegated and multifaceted than it may seem at first sight.

We conclude by referring you to the next article of the Winefully Magazine for our advice on wines, vintages and formats that we believe are best suited to a purchase or collection, with or without the purpose of a possible future resale.

Editorial Board 07.10.2021

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