Shifting Markets

There’s never been a better time to buy fine wine, explains Robert Rees

I have a confession to make. I have been involved in the wine business for over 20 years in many different roles, having worked at the following: wineries, restaurants, bars, bottle shops, event managers, investment advisors, auctions and now internet wine sales. Basically, there is not much that I haven’t done in the grape to glass chain. However, like poacher turned gamekeeper, I believe that I can also claim redemption and forgiveness for mistakes made along the way.
One of the less auspicious links in the chain was my time in wine investment advising. This rather obscure asset class was thrust into the limelight earlier this decade as spiraling wine prices attracted buyers from all colours and creeds. My extensive experience in matters vinous inevitably drew me towards the roar of this exciting, explosively bullish market.
Astounded by the extraordinary leap in the prices of top end wines at auctions and in retail windows, I went about using my experience to guide investors towards what I believed would be the next shooting star in the wine price gain game. The skill was to correctly asses a wine’s pedigree, volume of production, anticipated RPJ or WS rating, recent trading history of past vintages and public appeal of the winemakers, and to thereby select those that in my genuine belief would be most likely to appreciate in value over the next three to five years. Given that the corks would be pulled on more than half of a wine’s total production within three years of it being released also helped to tip the scales in favour of future price appreciation. Thus the usual investment package would include three years storage and insurance in a professional, climate-controlled environment.
All very sensible and chugging along nicely until someone asked to cash in the profits. Oops!


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