Burgundy lovers have been looking to the past to fill up their cellars with the expectation they won’t be able to get their hands on much wine from the 2012 and 2013 small vintages.
In the midst of London’s Burgundy tasting bonanza, when half of the Côte d’Or turns up in the U.K.’s capital to proffer their latest wares, the fine wine exchange Liv-ex has reported that demand for back vintages – particularly 2011 – has risen significantly in recent months.
Justin Gibbs, co-founder of Liv-ex told Wine-Searcher that there was increased demand for "second-tier" Burgundy in 2013, "as collectors began to roll out of the big, and every expensive, names," such as DRC and Henri Jayer. Increased demand from Asia also propelled prices upwards.
"Add to this the realization that 2012 allocations would be well down due to reduced yields and that 2013 had been battered by Mother Nature and the market looked to stock up elsewhere," said Gibbs. "2011, the most readily available and broadly admired vintage – 2009s and 2010s now long gone – was thus in the firing line."
For example, one of the month’s major movers on the exchange, Méo Camuzet’s 2011 Vosne Romanée Les Chaumes, has risen more than 12 percent in value. Many wines from Méo Camuzet have seen solid rises over the past six months as well as other top domaines including Marquis d’Angerville.
Gibbs added: “Some merchants will miss out on an allocation for the 2012 and 2013s and they’re mindful that they need to have something to offer customers. Offering a different vintage – and the 2011 is good as well as the most recently physical – is better than nothing.”
At the coal face, fine wine merchants are seeing increased interest in back vintages but it’s not just the 2011 vintage. Both Berry Bros & Rudd and Corney & Barrow report that most of their Burgundy customers stocked up on 2011s during last year’s campaign, leading to limited availability of the vintage.
Matthew Tipping, fine wine sales manager at Berry's, told Wine-Searcher: “We’ve seen a gradual trend of people saying 'I’m going to buy some ‘12s but I might not get exactly what I’m after and they are definitely looking at back vintages' [such as] 2008 – there’s a little bit of stock around and it is a very good vintage. Some wines from 08 are starting to drink a little better now and when any 05s come through, they are snapped up instantly.”
Meanwhile, Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow revealed they had seen interest going even further back in time. “Customers are certainly looking back at the perceived great vintages [such as] 1999, 2002, 2005, 2009 & 2010, because they fear they will be almost impossible to find in the future at the current prices," he said. "2000, 2001 and 2006 are [also] seen as savvy buys.”
When it comes to prices, merchants are reporting a rise of anywhere from 5 to 30 percent depending on a producer's crop size. Tipping claimed the price hikes are understandable for those who lost as much as 70 percent of their crop. "It’s fair to say the price increases are not down to the growers trying to profiteer. It’s definitely down to them trying to balance the books."