The fine wine investment market deals with only a tiny proportion (less than 0.1%) of the world's wine. The Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy have long dominated the scene, but wines from other regions are now gaining traction. Below is an overview. The linked names lead to price history graphs (and other information) for each wine.
Traditionally, wine investment portfolios have focused almost exclusively on classed-growth red Bordeaux (those of the 1855 Classification) from highly rated vintages. These wines have a long-established secondary market, and have built up good reputations for consistent quality and cellaring potential.
On Bordeaux's 'left bank', chateaux Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion remain reliable as high-grade investment wines. Across the Garonne in the Libournais (the 'right bank'), plush Merlot-based wines from Pomerol properties Le Pin, Petrus, Lafleur and La Fleur-Petrus are particularly popular on the US fine wine market, as are Saint-Emilion's top investment wines Angelus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Pavie.
Although less commonly traded, top Burgundy (both red and white) fetches some of the highest prices ever paid for wine. The best investment wines from Burgundy are the Grand Cru wines from domaines de la Romanee-Conti, Henri Jayer, Comte Georges de Vogue, Georges Roumier, Armand Rousseau, Leflaive, Leroy, Meo-Camuzet and Coche-Dury.
The finest Burgundy wines are made only in tiny quantities, which are snapped up by Burgundy enthusiasts on release. When they re-appear on the market, their scarcity can drive prices to astronomical heights. See The World's Most Expensive Wines, a list dominated almost entirely by Grand Cru Burgundy.
The Rhone Valley produces few wines capable of commanding such high prices as top-flight Burgundy or Bordeaux. Nonetheless, it offers a handful of attractive wine investment prospects, most obviously those from Jean-Louis Chave, particularly the Cuvee Cathelin and Vin de Paille, Paul Jaboulet's Hermitage La Chapelle, Guigal's Hermitage Ex Voto and 'La-La' wines (La Landonne, La Turque and La Mouline), Chateau de Beaucastel's Hommage a Jacques Perrin, and any of the top-end Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines from Chateau Rayas (the standard Reserve, the Pignan Reserve, or the white Reserve Blanc).
Among Italy's top investment wines are the SuperTuscans Sassicaia, Solaia and Ornellaia, and other Tuscan classics such as Brunellos from Fattoria Poggio di Sotto, Casanova di Neri and Gianfranco Soldera and the Vino Nobile wines Avignonesi Riserva Grandi Annate and Nocio dei Boscarelli.
Piedmont's contribution to the world of investment wine includes Barolos such as Giacomo Conterno's Monfortino and Cascina Francia, the Monprivato wines of Giuseppe Mascarello and Bartolo Mascarello, Bruno Giacosa's Collina Rionda, Falletto Riserva and Le Rocche del Falletto, and Aldo Conterno's Granbussia. Barolo's neighbor Barbaresco produces a few investment-grade wines, notably two Roagna I Paglieri wines (Crichet Paje and Paje Riserva) and the Gallina and Albesani Santo Stefano by Bruno Giacosa.
The USA is the New World's dominant force when it comes to investment wines, rivaled only by Australia. Although Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand do produce expensive, top-quality wines, very few have yet suggested themselves as reliable investment wines.
The United States' top investment wines are all Californian, and most are collector's items produced only in small quantities. As such, these wines are not traded on the secondary market as often as French investment wines. The list is dominated by Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons such as Screaming Eagle, Schrader Cellars' Old Sparky, David Abreu's Thorevilos and Madrona Ranch, Schrader Cellars' Beckstoffer To Kalon, T6 RBS, and CCS, and two wines from the Kapcsandy Family State Lane Vineyard (the Grand Vin and Roberta's Reserve). Rounding out Napa's contribution are classics such as Christian Moueix's Dominus, the Special Selection from Caymus, Mondavi's Opus One and the IX Estate by Colgin.
Outside Napa, Sonoma County's Vérité winery produces three wines (La Joie, La Muse, Le Desir) whose value has climbed consistently since they were awarded 100 Parker Points. Further south, in the Central Coast, Sine Qua Non produces a complex maze of single-vintage cuvees which could well lead to good investment returns and Ridge's reliable Monte Bello from the Santa Cruz Mountains continues to increase steadily in value.
Australia is home to a handful of wines now recognized for their investment potential. One producer in particular, Penfolds, produces several wines have consistently increased in value over the past decade, Bin 95 Grange, RWT, Bin 389 and Bin 407. Other Australian investment wines include Jim Barry's The Armagh, the Quintet by Mount Mary, Henschke's Hill of Grace and The Laird from Torbreck.
For further advice, visit Fine Wine Investment Advice.