Liv-ex validates Californian investment wines with new ‘California 50’ Index

The New World wine production in California may be infantile when compared to the history of European wine regions such as Bordeaux, but the top wines of the Sunshine State are on a par with Europe’s finest wines in terms of quality and price performance.

Iconic Californian wine estates have all benefited from Bordeaux best practice, with Chateau owners such as the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and individual specialists, such as oenologist Michel Rolland, partnering with Californian owners to create joint ventures which have resulted in some of the most highly sought after wines in the world.

Over the last fourteen years, since December 2003, Liv-ex has recorded returns of 207% from Californian wines with correspondingly very low volatility. Off the back of this sustained market performance, Liv-ex has now launched a dedicated California 50 index which measures the price activity of the 10 most recent physical vintages of the five most outstanding and actively traded fine wines from this region on the secondary market:

  • Dominus: (production 7,500 – 12,000 cases p.a.). The late Robert Mondavi guided the early development of Dominus which resulted in the partnership with owners Robin Lail and Marcia Smith with Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus who ultimately became sole owner of Dominus.
  • Harlan Estate: Located in Oakville, Napa with Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist. The sought after Harlan Estate wines enjoy a long waiting list and average price of US$1,012 per bottle. A 10-vintage vertical of magnums raised US$700,000 at the famous Napa Valley auction and Robert Parker has awarded 100 points to a number of vintages
  • Opus One: Also located in Oakville, Napa, Opus One was created as a joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Robert Mondavi in 1980. Their shared vision was to blend the expertise of Old and New World wine-making which resulted in one of the most famous wines of the region. The average price achieved in the secondary market is now about US$300 per bottle
  • Ridge Monte Bello: Vine plantings are first recorded in 1885, however the first commercial wine production took place in 1962. The 1971 vintage established the profile of this great wine at the Judgement of Paris which was revisited in a second blind tasting in 2006.
  • Screaming Eagle: (production 400 to 750 cases p.a.) possibly the most iconic Californian wine with a waiting list for extremely low production. Robert Mondavi has been a key architect to the vineyard’s success along with Robert Parker’s endorsement of the estate’s wines over the years. Now owned by US billionaire Stan Kroenke, and managed by Armand de Maigret with Michel Rolland as consultant.

The influence of Californian wines on Liv-ex has grown steadily from a market share of just 0.5% in 2013 (by value) to 2.8% in 2017 and a current YTD measure of 3.7%. Strong performers Opus One and Dominus have been component wines of the ‘Liv-ex Rest of the World 50’ index for some time.

Liv-ex’s creation of the California 50 index,  provides a further regional value barometer to guide the market, confirms their status as key wines of interest to merchants, collectors and investors alike and their importance as fine wine portfolio tools.

For more information visit our investment wines page or call us on 0203 384 2262.