Allegrini 2018

The fine wines of the Belpaese, protagonists on the Liv-ex, between past, present and future

The popularity of Super Tuscans on the one hand, the very high prices of Barolo and Barbaresco on the other: Italian labels fly

The measure of the growing importance of Italian wines on the secondary market of fine wines is well represented by two aspects: the market share, more than doubled in the last five years, and the number of labels exchanged, quadrupled in the same period. Nevertheless, even if the great labels of Italy have significantly approached those of Bordeaux and Burgundy in terms of international criticism, the quotations are still very far apart, making Italian wines accessible and interesting for collectors from all over the world, so much so that on the Liv-ex, the Italy 100, the index dedicated to Italian labels, is the only one to grow in 2019 (+3%), constantly from month to month. Merit, as the Liv-ex report “The fine wines of Italy: past, present and future” by two Regions recalls: Piedmont and Tuscany. On the one hand, Barolo, which is capable of obtaining the highest prices, and on the other, Super Tuscan, which, on the other hand, has the highest market shares, also thanks to production levels and much higher brand strength.
A fundamental role is played by criticism, because if it is true that in the classification of Liv-ex 2019 Italian labels have become 39 (from 9 of the previous classification), part of the merit is also due to increasing attention from the media, which has led, for example, to the first place of Sassicaia 2015 in the annual ranking of Wine Spectator, with a consequent increase in prices of 25% in a few hours, while the vintage 2016 of Sassicaia, after the 100 points of Monica Larner, Italian editor of Wine Advocate, has appreciated so far by 71%.
Looking at the trend of Italy 100, which takes into account the last 10 years on the market of the 10 best labels of the Belpaese (Sassicaia, Masseto, Solaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, Barbaresco di Gaja, Barolo Monfortino Riserva and Barolo Cascina Francia di Giacomo Conterno, Guado al Tasso by Antinori and Redigaffi by Tua Rita), since 2004, that is, since its birth, has gained 188%, less than the Liv-ex 100, but at a much more constant rate, which made it possible to overcome unscathed first the economic crisis of 2008, then the Chinese crisis of 2011. Restricting the analysis to the last three years (January 2017-July 2019), on the other hand, the effects of Brexit and the slight devaluation of the dollar are felt, as for all, but the Italy-100 is still growing by 28.3%, recording the third-best performance behind Burgundy and Champagne.
It is also interesting to analyze the price trend: the Tuscans cost an average of £1,924 per box, the third-lowest price after Sauternes and Rodano del Sud, while the Piedmontese, with Barolo and Barbaresco, get much higher prices, £4,003 per box, up 22% between January 2017 and July 2019, but still a quarter of the red wines of Burgundy, at the top with an average price of £16,039 per box. The number of references and market shares are growing at the same pace: in 2008, when Bordeaux accounted for 90% of the negotiations, with a handful of labels the share of Italian wine was 2.5%, while today that on the secondary market of fine wines there are more than 600 wines has risen to 8.5%, becoming the third most active category behind Bordeaux and Burgundy. Thus, turnover rose from £2 million in 2015 to over £5 million in 2019, a sign of growing attention from collectors. The impact of the automation of the buying and selling processes is also important, while the spread between supply and demand, stable at 15-25%, tells of an Italian wine market that is still out of balance.
In this sense, everything passes through the differences and the distance between Piedmont and Tuscany, which on the secondary market of fine wines behave in a very different way. While the Super Tuscans, with their large volumes, affordable prices and world-famous brands, account for two-thirds of the volumes traded, Barolo and Barbaresco show much more substantial growth: +12% since December 2017, compared to +0.2% of Tuscans,which deserve a separate mention. Because the five Super Tuscans (at least in the meaning of Liv-ex, ed), namely Ornellaia, Masseto, Sassicaia, Solaia and Tignanello, have proved over the past five years to be a real parachute for investors, with absolutely significant growth, from +46% for Sassicaia, the only non-French European wine among the most sought after online, to +52% for Tignanello, the most performing, thanks to the popularity that has derived from being the favorite wine of the Duchess of Sussex. 
Remaining on the Super Tuscans, the analysis of the Liv-ex shows the correlation between critical scores and quotations: on Sassicaia, for example, the judgment of Antonio Galloni (Vinous) has an important impact, with the most quoted vintages (2006, 2008, 2015 and 2016) that are also those above 95 points, with the exception of 2010, valued at 96 points but on the market at a price significantly lower than the average. The same applies to Masseto, which is affected by the scores of The Wine Advocate, with 100-point vintages (2006, 2015 and 2016) reaching the highest prices. A great vivacity on the market that, however, does not result in a price trend that goes hand in hand, with Masseto, for example, which from January 2018 to date has lost 4.6%, and even if Sassicaia has marked +9% it is from Piedmont that the best performance arrives: +19% Barolo Cascina Francia by Giacomo Conterno and +16% for Barolo Riserva Monfortino again by Giacomo Conterno.
Piedmont that, for many reasons, behaves, made the right proportions, like Burgundy: limited and exclusive production, high quality, style, based on Nebbiolo, which refers to the elegance of Pinot Noir. Thus, in ten years negotiations on Barolo and Barbaresco have grown by 3,300%, +40% in 2019 alone. Looking back, in 2009 60% of purchases were made in Great Britain, 30% in Asia and 10% in Europe, and only in 2014 the USA “woke up”, reaching a share of 25%, with Great Britain at 65%, Asia down to 8% and Europe at just 2%, with 60 different labels. Today, however, the picture is very different: U.S. investors hold the majority share of purchases, 56%, Great Britain has fallen to 38%, Asia to 5% and Europe to 1%, with 270 different wines traded on the secondary market, and as many as 9 labels out of 10 of the best performing in Italy, with Gaja's 2011 Barbaresco at the top (+39% between July 2018 and July 2019), and the wines of the brand that, overall, account for 7% of trade-related to Italian labels.
In the future, however, something could change, because as emerges from the Liv-ex report already today there are small movements on wines from Sicily, Lombardy (Franciacorta) and Puglia, regions on which the attention is increasingly high, strong of history, cultural and oenological, capable of generating interest and curiosity. And the richness and variety of Italian wine are also being auctioned off by the critics, who no longer limit their best votes to Tuscany and Piedmont, rewarding instead different regions and denominations. There are also two other positive dynamics to support the growth of Italian labels: on the one hand the absolutely competitive prices, which push collectors to give space in their cellars to the wines of the Belpaese, on the other hand the boom of Burgundy that, with its stratospheric prices, paradoxically pulls the sprint to other designations, starting with Barolo.

Focus - Italy in the Liv-ex Classification 2019
The 2019 Liv-ex Classification lists 349 wines from 9 different countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United States. In the first bracket, among the wines that cost from £2,877 per box (strictly from 12 bottles, ed.) up, there are 77 wines (31 were in 2017), of which three are Italian (Bruno Giacosa Barolo Vigna Rocche Riserva a 5.923 pounds, Masseto at 5,517 pounds and Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva at 3,583 pounds), 14 from Bordeaux, 44 from Burgundy, 7 from Champagne, two from Australia, two from the Rhone, one from Spain and four from the United States.
In the name of the historical memory of Italian enology on the Liv-ex, where, among the 39 Italians, Gaja boasts seven labels (Sorì Tildin, Sorì San Lorenzo, Costa Russi, Gaia & Rey, Sperss, Langhe Conteisa and Barbaresco), Antinori three (Tignanello, Solaia and Guado al Tasso), Casanova di Neri (Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto and Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova), Bruno Giacosa (Barolo Vigna Rocche Riserva and Barolo Falletto), Brovia (Barolo Rocche Castiglione and Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’mia) and Elio Grasso (Barolo Gavarini Chiniera and Barolo Ginestra Casa Mate) two, there is the Masseto, for years among the wines able to score the highest prices on the secondary market of fine wines, where today the Italian labels play a leading role.
Focusing on the news of the “Liv-ex Classification 2019” concerning Italy, 39 wines are classified, 30 of which are new entries. In the first category, in the second (between 792 and 2,876 pounds per box) there are 23 labels, which represent 14% of the turnover of the entire category (which includes 161 wines from all over the world): in order of listing, there are Gaja Sorì Tildin (2,691 pounds), Gaja Sorì San Lorenzo (2,485 pounds), Gaja Costa Russi (2,412 pounds), Barolo Bartolo Mascarello (2,229 pounds), Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto Casanova di Neri (2.080 pounds), Solaia (1,938 pounds), Gaja Gaia & Rey (1,824 pounds per box), Amarone Romano Dal Forno (1,823 pounds), Gaja Sperss (1,660 pounds), Barolo Cascina Francia Giacomo Conterno (1,547 pounds), Sassicaia (1,527 pounds), Redigraffi Tua Rita (1.403 pounds), Ornellaia (1,327 pounds), Brunello Montalcino Tenuta Nuova Casanova di Neri (1,221 pounds), Langhe Conteisa Gaja (1,217 pounds), Messorio Macchiole (1,162 pounds), Barolo Falletto Bruno Giacosa (1,143 pounds), Barbaresco Gaja (1.122 pounds), Pergole Torte Montevertine (1,110 pounds), Rampolla Alceo (1,060 pounds), Brunello di Montalcino Poggio di Sotto (983 pounds), Apparita Castello di Ama (979 pounds) and Barolo Vigne Luciano Sandrone (959 pounds).
Moving forward, in the third bracket (between 504 and 791 pounds per box), here is the wine preferred by the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Tignanello (769 pounds), then the Barolo Rocche Castiglione Brovia (651 pounds), the Barolo Ginestra Case Mate Elio Grasso (638 pounds), Guado al Tasso Antinori (630 pounds), Barolo Gavarini Chiniera Elio Grasso (604 pounds), Petrolo Galatrona (583 pounds), Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve (576 pounds) and Brunello di Montalcino Valdicava (536 pounds). In the fourth bracket (between 360 and 503 pounds per box), the Saffredi Pupille (481 pounds), Brunello di Montalcino Conti Costanti (466 pounds) and Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’mia Brovia (407 pounds). Finally, in the fifth and last bracket (between 288 and 359 pounds per box), the Barolo Castiglione Vietti (327 pounds) and Ornellaia Serre Nuove (305 pounds).

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