Liv-ex Classification 2021 – which are the top fine wines on the secondary market?

Liv-ex Classification 2021: Headlines:

  • Qualifying Criteria
  • Regional influences
  • Tier 1 Investment Wines
  • Tier 2 delivering value

Liv-ex has published its 2021 Classification, ranking the most significant wines in the secondary market based on trading prices on the leading fine wine exchange.  With a nod to the aims of the original 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, Liv-ex undertakes this measure every two years to provide a guide to merchants, collectors and investors on pricing trends and the leading wines.

First launched in 2009, the Liv-ex Classification was originally purely comprised of wines from Bordeaux. It wasn’t until 2017 that labels from outside that region ‘made the cut’, reflecting the broadening fine wine market. This was not an indicator of a growing disinterest in Bordeaux, rather the fact that more  fine wine from other regions, such as Burgundy, Italy, Champagne and USA, became accessible, understood by merchants, collectors and investors and traded. Consequently, a growing number of non-Bordeaux wines are now shaping the secondary market in fine wine.

With average price the driver to measure wines into five tiers, the Classification qualifying criteria also requires a minimum level of trading activity and a number of vintages to be traded to ensure that brands that achieve extraordinary prices don’t skew the measure. This means that the qualifying wines show the most sustained levels of engagement on the market at the trend they are achieving in the period under review.

Liv-ex Classification 2021 – qualifying critieria:

  1. Wines had to have traded on Liv-ex between the 1st July 2020 – 30th June 2021 (in 75cl or 150cl bottle formats)
  2. Five or more vintages from the label must have traded
  3. The label must have traded at least fifteen times in the period under review
  4. The average trade price is determined by dividing the total value traded per label divided by the number of 9 litre cases.

Like the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, the ranking is structured across five tiers, those wines with lowest average prices and levels of trade are in Tier 5 and the highest prices and more regularly traded in the first and second tiers. We have a closer look at key investment wines that make the first two Tiers.

Regional influences on the 2021 Classification

The 2021 Liv-ex Classification reflects the evolution of regional trends on the fine wine market and its increasing depth. Bordeaux accounted for 37% of the five tiers of the Classification in 2019, and in 2021 represented 28.6%. This is lower than the actual average market share of Bordeaux on Liv-ex generally, either by volume or value, which in the last 12 months sat nearer 40%.

The number of Burgundy labels fell by 30% from 102 in 2019 to 71 in 2021, representing 20% of the total Classification list. The impact of the 25% US Tariffs in place between November 2019 and March 2021 had a direct impact on both top Burgundy and Bordeaux trade levels and the US market. This is a contributory factor. There were more than 120 new wines listed in the latest ranking and more than 70% were from outside Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Italy and US wines have enjoyed significant movement in this Classification, the former seeing a 112% increase to 83 wines listed in 2021. The number of US wines more than doubled from 10 to 22 labels. Top regional performer, Champagne saw a 27% increase on the number of wines in the ranking to 23.

Liv-ex Classification 2021 – Tier 1

The leading wine brands of the world still command the highest prices in the secondary market. There are 72 wines listed in Tier 1, the benchmark price criteria being an average market price (based on the Listing pricing criteria) at or higher than £3,060 per 9-litre case. This is a fall from 77 wines reaching this benchmark in the 2019 Classification.

Liv-ex Classification 2021 – Tier 1 Key Brands by Region:

Bordeaux Burgundy Napa, USA Champagne
Ausone Armand Rousseau Colgin Bollinger
Cheval Blanc Comtes Georges de Vogue Eisele Vineyard Dom Perignon
Haut Brion DRC Harlan Estate Krug
Lafite Rothschild Comtes Lafon Hundred Acre Louis Roederer, Cristal, Rosé
Latour Dujac Promontory Salon Le Mesnil sur Oger
Lafleur Georges Roumier Scarecrow  
Margaux Jean Grivot Screaming Eagle  
Mouton Rothschild Leflaive The Flight, Screaming Eagle  
Le Pin Ponsot Sine Qua Non  
Petrus Joseph Drouhin    
  Trapet Pere & Fils    
Piedmont, Italy Tuscany, Italy South Australia Rhone
Bartolo Mascarello Biondi-Santi, Brunellodi, Montalcino Henschke, Hill of Grace Vineyard Domaine Jean Louis Chave
Bruno Giacosa Masseto Penfold Grange  
Comm. GB Burletto Soldera Case Basse Torbreck, The Laird  
Giacomo Canterno      

Source: Liv-ex Classification 2021, August 2021. NOTE: Not all of the wines are listed here. The table shows extracts from the Classification with details of the key brands for investors and does not feature all the wines.

Piedmont, often likened to Burgundy in terms of its top wines’ price performance, has made a significant move with four labels rising from the 2019 Tier 2 to the 2021 Tier 1 level, making a total of 7 from the region, compared to neighbouring Tuscany with just three Tier 1 listings.

Bordeaux (10 wines) and Burgundy (31) representation in Tier 1 reduced in the 2021 Classification with lower average Burgundy prices illustrating the broadening market for lower value wines of the region.

Napa wines have been regional winners with the number rising from six to ten wines, matching Bordeaux, in Tier 1. California’s top wines are consistently achieving prices on a par with top Burgundy and Bordeaux. New Napa qualifiers in Tier 1 include Screaming Eagle’s second wine, The Flight, Promontory and one of Sine Qua Non’s wines.

Liv-ex Classification 2021 – Tier 2

The second tier is the largest with 152 wines in the price bracket £842 to £3,059 / case. The broadest category with wines from France, Italy, USA, Chile and includes the only German wine. Fifty-four new wines were added to Tier 2 in 2021.

Liv-ex Classification 2021 – Tier 2 Key Brands by Region

Bordeaux Burgundy Napa, USA Champagne
Angelus Bouchard Pere & Fils Continuum Bollinger
Canon Armand Rousseau Dominus Dom Perignon
Figeac Bonneauu du Martray Opus One Krug
La Mission Haut Brion Faiveley Joseph Phelps Louis Roederer
Carruades Lafite Jacques Prieur Realm Cellars Perrier Jouet
Cos d’Estournel Leflaive Ridge Philipponat
Les Forts de Latour Joseph Drouhin Spottswoode Piper Heidsieck
Les Carmes Haut Brion   Ulysses Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill
Le Petit Mouton Rothschild     Ruinart
L’Eglise Clinet     Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
Leoville Las Cases      
Pavillon Rouge      
Vieux Chateau Certan      
Piedmont, Italy Tuscany, Italy Spain Rhone
Bruno Giacosa Antinori, Sassicaia Vega Sicilia Guigal, la Landonne
Capellano Antinori Tignanello   Guigal La Mouline
Gaja Bibi Graetz   Guigal La Turque
Giacomo Conterno Biondi-Santi   Guigal La Hermitage
Vietti Ornellaia   Famille Perrin
  Solaia   Henri Bonneau
  Tenuta Son Guido   M Chapoutier
  Tua Rita   Paul Jaboulet

Source: Liv-ex Classification 2021, August 2021. NOTE: Not all of the wines are listed here. The table shows extracts from the Classification with details of the key brands for investors and does not feature all the wines.

For more information on the top performing fine wines speak to a member of our team on 0203 384 2262 and see our Market Report.