Allegrini 2024

Barolo Monfortino, Masseto, Soldera at the top of “Grandi Cru” by Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction

In the 2024 classification of the auction house specializing in Italian wines, the growth of Piedmont and area wines, from Montalcino to Etna

Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva at the absolute top, with per-bottle adjudication, on average, of 700 euros, ahead of two other myths such as Frescobaldi’s Masseto and Soldera’s Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino, which tick off, on average, 600 euros “per cap”; and then, in the fourth bracket, Biondi Santi’s Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Bruno Giacosa’s Barbaresco Riserva. In fifth, there are Cappellano’s Barolo Otin Fiorin Pie Franco-Michet, Giuseppe Rinaldi’s Barolo Brunate and Romano Dal Forno’s Amarone; in the sixth bracket, Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolo, Giuseppe Mascarello’s Barolo Monprivato, Frank Cornelissen’s Etna Rosso Magma, Aldo Conterno’s Barolo Riserva Granbussia, Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte, Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Cascina Francia, Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia and Gaja’s Sperrs. Seventh bracket, on the other hand, for Gaja’s Barbaresco, Emidio Pepe’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Antinori’s Solaia, Burlotto’s Barolo Monvigliero, Gaia & Rey again by Gaja, Pietradolce’s Etna Rosso Vigna Barbagalli, Frescobaldi’s Ornellaia, Poggio di Sotto’s Brunello di Montalcino, Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Sandrone’s Barolo Cannubi Boschis, Antinori’s Tignanello and Casanova di Neri’s Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto: here are the 30 strongest Italian wines in auctions, according to the “Classification of Grandi Cru 2024”, updated by Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction, the only auction house specializing in Italian wines, founded in Rome but based in Hong Kong, and led by Flaviano Gelardini and Raimondo Romani. A ranking made based on the highest price levels and lowest percentage of unsold lots recorded by Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction since 2004, presented yesterday at Ercoli 1928 in Rome.
“The Italian wines that we have classified as Grandi Cru”, explains Raimondo Romani, to WineNews, “have made an impressive growth, we have gone from an average price of the top labels in 2004 around 200 euros, to today's price which is over 700 euros, an exponential growth. With Piedmont dominating by far, with the great wines from Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), but all the more identity-based appellations are growing, from Brunello di Montalcino to Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, as well as wines from Etna, as we already predicted in the 2009 classification. Compared to the past, the identity aspect, being linked to the territory and to Italian-ness rewards a lot: we are no longer chasing French wines”, adds Raimondo Romani, “but there is an Italian identity that has its own value and is being rewarded much more, it is becoming established, and with a certain slowdown of Bordeaux wines, which has been going on for some time now, but is now also touching Burgundy, it gives a huge space to the growth of Italian wine”.
Another important change, Romani further points out, is that “collectors want, however, mature wines, but compared to the past the preference is for wines that are 30 years old at most. There is no longer the search that there was until recently of the “over 50s”, there is more awareness. The public has refined taste, perception and expertise, they are looking for the peak of maturity, rather than over-aged wines, and this is important to understand because past that peak that is the best time to sell, because then the wine loses value”.
“Never before have we been as impressed as in this update by the growth in value of Italian wine and how, looking back, our Classification has always reflected public trends and preferences in a timely manner. On the other hand, the volume and quality of the data we have been able to analyze”, Gelardini & Romani explain, “is a unique asset in the world. If, at the turn of the 20th century and the 2000s, the public’s preferences were mainly oriented towards those Bordeaux-style or large-structured local labels, particularly appreciated by a neophyte North American public, which then represented the main market for our fine wines; today we can say that, also thanks to the growth of the Asian market, generally endowed with a more “delicate” palate than the Anglo-Saxons, the preference for elegant, identity-driven, indigenous, single-varietal and traditionally produced wines is overt”, A “Copernican revolution”, Gelardini & Romani call it, in a context, that of collectible wines that, worldwide, are in the order of a few hundred.
“The collectability of a wine does not depend on its “goodness”, which together with its ability to age are fundamental prerequisites, but rather on its “uniqueness”, which is declined starting from its history, passing through its organoleptic characteristics, which define its style, representative of a given historical moment. Taste is not absolute and immanent”, Gelardini & Romani emphasize, “but varies and evolves over time, both at the individual level and throughout history. On an individual level, we have found that the vast majority of contemporary wine lovers and collectors have approached this world starting with red wines from Bordeaux and then extending their knowledge to other types and territories; on a historical level, during the early twentieth century, it was Mosel Rieslings that were the most expensive wines, even in Parisian restaurants. But, already in the early postwar period, it was the wines of Bordeaux that garnered the scepter of the highest-priced wines; a scepter that, in the first quarter of this century, passed to the great Burgundies; while the Mosel Rieslings had by then lost the attention of collectors, ending up almost in oblivion, with a consequent reduction in value. Similarly, but looking from a different angle, if 2000 years ago the wine capital of the world was Rome - from where, among other things, viticulture spread throughout the world - between the 19th and mid-20th centuries the wine capital was London.
Symmetrically, if, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, the center of gravity of “fine wines” was New York, from the first quarter of the current century the capital of “fine wines” became Hong Kong, where, in 2010, after the elimination of import duties, the turnover of wine auctions (only 7 million people live in Hong Kong) was higher than that of the entire U.S. market (with more than 300 million inhabitants). Confirmation that fine wines have always played the role of certifying socio-economic “status”, also determining and fueling a “geopolitics of taste”. It is no coincidence that if in ancient Rome the most prized wines, which only the patricians could afford, were those from the Moselle and Valpolicella (Vallis-polis-cellae), because of their natural sweetness, while the plebeians could at best sweeten local productions with honey; it is Londoner who is responsible for the rise of the Bordeaux “clarets” with the discovery that the 225-liter “barriques” used for transportation, in the long run, allowed the wine to age better. While it is from New York that the rediscovery of Burgundy wines--among the most prized from the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century--started in the 1890s and culminated in Hong Kong where it simultaneously grew to burst, the speculative “bubble” around the wines of Burgundy and the rise of Italian wine passed in little more than 30 years, in the imagination of collectors, from the farmer’s wine in the flask to an alternative with better value for money but of equal dignity to the French Grands Crus. That being said, the price paid on the secondary market is the only unambiguous and objectively universal parameter for classifying collectible wines.
A form of collecting, wine collecting is among the most exclusive, expensive and complex: in fact, unlike traditional object collecting (art, jewelry, watches, coins, stamps, cars and so on), wine collecting (which is never glass bottle collecting) requires the involvement of three senses: taste, smell and sight.
The wine collector”, Gelardini & Romani continue to explain, “is not a mere accumulator but rather a consumer, because in order to be appreciated, wine must be consumed, and the fact that the “appreciation” of wine determines, after consumption, the zeroing of the value of the good, makes this form of collecting among the most exclusive and expensive. Consuming great emblazoned wines is certainly an expensive activity, but the centrality that our own production has gained in the world market of great wines, next to France, which outclassed us until a few years ago, offers today to those who are present in the area and know how to understand market trends, extraordinary investment opportunities by purchasing local, identity-based excellence that is still greatly undervalued. The marked improvement in Italian wine production, starting from the work in the vineyard to the cleanliness of the cellars and an ever greater respect in the treatment of the grapes that arrive there, have significantly elevated the quality of even great collectible wines, but climate change is a serious threat, so the value recognized to great vintages, given their greater rarity and uncertainty about the future is, if possible, even higher than what could be recognized to them in the past”.

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