Allegrini 2018

A dreamy 2020 for Italy’s fine wines, according to Justin Gibbs, director and co-founder of Liv-Ex

U.S. taxes benefiting Italian wines, great vintages of Brunello (2015) and Barolo (2016) among key drivers of growth
A dreamy 2020 for Italy’s fine wines

U.S. taxes that have benefited Italian wines, which are still excluded from the measure, the excellent and celebrated vintages of Brunello di Montalcino 2015 and Barolo 2016, the growth of investments, and, consequently, of quotations, on all the highest level wines of the world, including Italian ones. Passing through an ever-increasing ability of Italy’s top producers to combine the highest quality with important product quantities. This explains the remarkable 2020, despite the black year marked by Covid, for Italian wine on Liv-Ex, as told to WineNews by Justin Gibbs, director and co-founder of the platform of reference of the secondary market (video interview in the coming days), commenting on an extraordinary 2020, which saw Italy as the absolute star of the secondary market of fine wines, thanks to champions such as Barolo Monfortino by Giacomo Conterno, absolutely the wine that has moved more value in the world with the 2013 vintage, at the top of a Top 10 that also includes Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia 2017 and Antinori’s Tignanello 2016, with the Belpaese able to place 4 labels among the top 10 in the ranking of growth in prices, such as Sassicaia 2013, Tignanello 2013 and 2016 and Solaia 2013, still signed by Antinori. Again, in the 12 months just ended, the Italy 100, the index dedicated to the great wines of the Belpaese - formed by the last 10 physical vintages (2007-2016) of the great Supertuscans, that is Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and the great “triptych” of the Antinori family, formed by Solaia, Tignanello and Guado al Tasso, Sorì San Lorenzo (vintages from 2006 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2016), Barbaresco (from 2007 to 2016) and Sperss (2005-2011 and 2013-2015) of Gaja, and Barolo Monfortino Riserva of Giacomo Conterno (with vintages from 1999 to 2002, from 2004 to 2006 and then 2008, 2010 and 2013) - grew by 6.65%, trailed only by “Champagne” 50, at +6.24%.
A success that is essentially based on 3 factors, explains Gibbs: “the first is the introduction of U.S. taxes on EU wines at the end of 2019, to which Italian wines, Champagne and wines above 14 degrees of alcohol were not subject, and this has translated into an advantage in sales value. The second point is that wines from regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux, and top level Italian wines, have increased in value, prompting consumers to invest in them. Third point, the entry in the market of Brunello 2015 and Barolo 2016, judged by critics and market as two particularly successful vintages”.
Italy’s performance was also confirmed by the Liv-Ex Power 100, a ranking realized considering the volumes and values moved by each single brand, the average price, the variation of quotations and the number of single wines (labels and vintages) on the market, which counts 17 Italian labels never so many, 9 more than in 2019, with Gaja jumping to position no. 3 (from 34 in 2019), Sassicaia at no. 4 (from no. 7), Ornellaia at no. 6 (from 91), Masseto at no. 9 (from 72), Antinori’s Solaia at no. 13 (from 72), just to name the top positions, also pointing out the two names which, in absolute terms, have grown the most, such as the brand of Barolo Luciano Sandrone, which rose from position 277 to 62 (+215), and Tenuta Greppo of Biondi Santi, the cradle of Brunello di Montalcino (today belonging to the French group Epi, ed.) which went from 219 to 55 (+164), and also, from Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Bolgheri and Valpolicella, names such as Tignanello, Giacomo Conterno, Bartolo Mascarello, Casanova di Neri, Poggio di Sotto, Vietti, Tua Rita, Bruno Giacosa and Quintarelli. Never so many.
”There were many new entries, 4 in Piedmont and 5 in Tuscany, and the fact that wines such as Solaia, Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and Gaja dominated the ranking also has to do with production volumes. Being able to combine quantity and high quality is a key factor in order to become a big player in this market. If it is possible to combine production volumes and price performance, which these wines do, it is possible to emerge in a market where others are more static. In terms of volumes, Sassicaia was the most traded wine on Liv-Ex, Ornellaia was no. 12, Solaia is no. 6 in terms of value moved, for example”. And if great Barolo, Supertuscan and Brunello di Montalcino are the most important wines, so much else is moving. “Italy is one of the oldest producers in the world, but the market”, Gibbs explains, “discovered it relatively recently. Piedmont was for a long time a niche, while now it is growing together with Supertuscan. But wines from Abruzzi are also growing, as well as Chianti Classico, and there are positive signals, even though they are less important, from Sicily, Sardinia, Campania and Trentino”.

A positive picture for Italian fine wines, and a tricolor primacy arrived in 2020 in which the market on Liv-Ex grew in an important way, with records both in value and volume, and in the number of wines that moved on the platform. And one wonders what it is possible to imagine for this 2021 that has just begun, and that promises to be very complicated for the pandemic and not only.

“It’s always dangerous to make predictions”, Gibbs points out, “but if I had to guess, I would say that in 2021, the trends seen in 2020 will continue. Central banks have reduced interest rates, investors are moving towards diversified assets, and wine will continue to benefit from this. Moreover, if lockdowns continue a little longer, as it seems they will, the driving force will be domestic consumption, along with online, and lesser known territories could benefit from this. Moreover, duties are still applied, indeed, we have seen that the US has extended the duty to those under 14 degrees, with Italian wines and Champagne still out. And all this suggests that the trend seen in 2020 will continue this year.

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