If there's one quality people look for in investments it's dependability and wine doesn't come much more dependable than the stuff that comes from the Rh?ne.
That's pretty much the gist of a report released this week by Liv-ex, the fine wine trading platform, which noted that the region has enjoyed a steady, if unspectacular, rise in interest among merchants and investors. And it also pointed to a trade trend that could be of interest to the canny wine collector.
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"The Rhône's price performance has been slow and steady since our price records began," the report said. "In a turbulent year for the fine wine market – and the world – this no longer looks like a weakness. Long term, it has proven itself to be a very stable investment, showing no signs of volatility in global crises. With lower prices, consistent excellence in quality, a broadening market and a shelter from any financial storm, few fine wine regions deliver on quite so many fronts."
The wine that piqued our interest here at Wine-Searcher – and that was singled out as the star performer by the report – is the 2008 Guigal La Landonne Côte Rôtie; the report says the wine has enjoyed a price increase of 38.8 percent in the past year, making it the best performer from the region.
So what has all this got to do with Wine-Searcher? Well, thanks to a time-lag between trade prices (which Liv-ex tracks) and the retail prices we track, the former can often predict the latter and, in this case, it suggests that the 2008 La Landonne should see a rise in retail price to reflect the higher value in which it is being held among the trade. However, the retail price history of the wine has been virtually unchanged in the past year and has only increased by around 15 percent across the past five years.
While we would never offer investment advice, the numbers are worth taking a look at.
The 2008 La Landonne currently has a global average price tag of $259, up from $255 a year ago, so it's not wildly expensive. Indeed, it's not even the most expensive vintage – that would be the $2500 debut 1978 vintage, followed by the 1985 at $1683 – and is, in fact, the cheapest we have listed. This is due to 2008 not being a great vintage in the Rh?ne, a fact reflected in the aggregated critic score of "just" 93, against an overall, all-vintages score of 96.
That said, it is one of Guigal's top wines and, vintage variation apart, it is reliably excellent. Across all vintages, La Landonne is the most expensive of the so-called "La-La" wines – Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque. It's also Guigal's second most expensive wine, after the Hommage à Etienne Guigal, which weighs in at an average price of $649.
The wines have enviable reputations, and La Landonne is particularly beloved of Robert Parker, who personally awarded it 100-point scores for 11 different vintages (against a relatively paltry eight apiece for the other La-Las).
La Landonne has also been the most price-stable of the La-Las, seeing just a $12 rise in its average price across all vintages in the past five years, from $398 to $410. La Mouline has seen a range of between $367 and $402, while La Turque swung between a high of $400 and a "low" of $364, so none of the wines are particularly volatile when it comes to price.
So a rise of nearly 40 percent across the past year is certainly something to sit up and take notice of, especially if it means that either retail prices are set to reflect that rise, or auction prices are as investors look to cash in.
Either way, it might be a good time to consider if you're looking to stock your cellar with a reliable quiet achiever. And, if you don't get offered a vast sum for it down the track, at least you'll have something worth drinking.