Trading platform says long-term ‘steady growth’ in sales of top Californian wines points to collectors’ growing awareness of New World opportunities
A NEW INDEX charting prices for cult California wines has yielded more evidence of the Golden State’s growing importance in the secondary market.
Liv-ex has launched a California 50 index to track the last 10 physical vintages of the five most-traded Californian wines on its platform: Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Dominus, Harlan Estate and Ridge Monte Bello.
If it had been running since 2003, the index would have tripled in value in 15 years, Liv-ex said, close to matching growth for the Liv-ex 100 and Bordeaux 500 indices over the same time period.
California still only accounted for 3.7% of Liv-ex trades by value in the year to the end of July 2018. But its rise has also been felt elsewhere in the trade.
BI Wines & Spirits said recently that collectors had better knowledge of California’s boutique producers and were ‘more open to trying “New World” wines’.
Michael Davis, vice chairman at Hart Davis Hart auction house in Chicago, told Decanter at the time of going to press that more than 60% of its California lots have sold above their high estimate in 2018 so far, versus 50% throughout 2017.
‘We’ve seen higher hammer prices, but for a selective group of labels,’ Davis said, adding
that demand also depends upon location. ‘Asian bidders are now such a powerful force in our auctions, and they are far more focused on European wines.’
HDH’s top California sellers at auction in 2018 have so far been Screaming Eagle (just over $1m in total realised sales), Harlan Estate ($386,000) and Sine Qua Non ($191,000).
Is there a California price bubble? ‘The California 50 index has risen steadily over the past decade, which suggests that this is not the case,’ said Liv-ex research analyst Edward Jackson. ‘However, we are not in the business of predicting this.’
Above: a chart shows how Liv-ex’s new California 50 index would have risen in value since 2003