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For years, the topic of wine has not only occupied the connoisseurs of this beverage. Rather, and increasingly, certain wines are regarded as objects of speculation. There is a reason for this: wine cannot be increased. What I mean are cult wines from certain top vintages, which are becoming less and less every day and of course cannot be reproduced. To the chagrin of producers, more and more bottles end up in the cellars of collectors and investors instead of being drunk. Wine has been made for centuries and traded for decades with profit and loss - almost like on the stock exchange. In the age of the internet, a real boom has emerged.

This boom remained largely unbroken - even in times of crisis. But since the summer, prices have been falling and the Liv-ex100 in London (data on www.winecollect.eu) fell in October 2008 for the first time since 2001 by a double-digit monthly amount. Down 12.4%. So the global crisis has now also reached the wine industry. Nevertheless, more wines are being traded than 6 months ago.

On the right side of the Gironde, so-called blue chip investment wines are being produced (which you can also drink!).

Savings account, shares or wine?

I don't need to write about losses or profits with shares here. If you are looking for an alternative to a savings book but don't have the money for a Cézanne or Picasso, wine is a good form of investment - even today. There are only a handful of wines that more or less increase in price by themselves. Without any risk. But with a lot of effort. Unfortunately, you don't get these wines like a share or a gold ducat at the bank. Therefore, the main problem is to obtain the profitable cult wines. However, with the necessary knowledge, wine as an investment has been much more successful than shares for more than 50 years. The cultivation areas of these cult drinks have been the same for about 200 years. And thus there are also limits to production. At the same time, however, the demand is growing. Even if demand is currently stagnating, as it did after the attacks in New York in 2001. Two years later, demand was higher than before the catastrophe - also due to the excellent Bordeaux vintage of 2003. And as every layman knows, supply and demand still determine the price of a commodity. This is also the case with wine! The graph below shows the increase in value of a blue chip* wine after delivery by the negociants (French: traders). Mouton Rothschild 2000 received 97+/100 Parker and is certainly not the best investment wine - like Ausone, Lafleur or DRC - and yet the price rose by 175.91% in the last 6 years. The incipient drinking maturity of this wine in the next few years will allow for a further price boost. Crisis or no crisis. The time is favourable. The prices are encouraging people to buy right now.

* from the stock market: share with high market capitalisation Blue chips are issued exclusively by companies that have a good reputation worldwide and convince with their high yield.

Which wine?

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are a handful of wines that are suitable as value investments. In any case, it should be said at the outset that there is no single wine that will bring in the big profits overnight. There are several criteria that make a wine an investment property. These are:

1. name and classification: few top wineries from Bordeaux, Romanée Conti from Burgundy and for the small stock market also cult wines from Italy.

2. ratings: Only wines with 96-100 points awarded by the most influential critics, first and foremost Robert Parker, are good as investment wines. Blue chips, with few exceptions, have 99/100 or 100/100 points.

Shelf life: The decisive factor for investors is how long a wine can be kept in the bottle, i.e. how long it is ripe for drinking. No one would invest in the long term in a wine that has a short lifespan. That is why the Bordelais is the first address!

4. vintage: an essential factor! Even if many authors see it differently, there are only a few vintages that I would recommend. From Bordeaux, these are 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003 and 2005, as well as 1985, 1990, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2005 from Burgundy (red wines). I would not recommend past century vintages. The best wine from the 1961 vintage is of little use if you can hardly buy one of these cult wines. Or - as you often read - you buy a fake. The real superstars of these vintages are in "fixed relationships" anyway!

5. cult and tradition: 2 elementary decision-making aids. Would you invest your money in an unknown wine because it received 100 points from Parker? Probably not, except for the candlelight dinner at the weekend. Every investment wine also needs a certain history! The name is decisive for later sales. You don't get it with a rating, but through decades of top quality.

Premiers from the best years are a good form of investment

Purchase - Sale

The internet has created a secondary market for wines that did not exist 10-15 years ago. Auction houses such as the globally important Christies and Sotheby's, but also eBay, Koppe & Partner in Germany or Steinfels in Switzerland sell wines for several million euros every year. Nevertheless, the bottom line can be negative if you bet on the wrong "horse". Auction fees, cellar equipment, storage and other ancillary costs quickly diminish a good return. The minimum investment period for cult wines should be 5 - 10 years. Then you will get a nice plus with the right wines, as experts like Jan-Erik Paulson (RareWine) or Michael Broadbent (long-time expert and consultant at Sotheby's) also confirm. Why 5 - 10 years? Because that is the approximate duration until the top wines reach their first drinking maturity. Then the demand for such wines increases and with every bottle drunk, so does the price. Where to buy? First rule: Never buy blue chips on eBay, unless a dealer offers original wooden crates (OHK) with proof of origin via this platform. In general, you should try to buy and store investment wines only in OHKs. When reselling, you will find that 12 bottles in the OHK bring a lot more than 12 individual bottles.

It is the same with large bottles. A Petrus 1990 in the magnum (1.5l) costs about 7000 euros. The same amount in a normal bottle, i.e. 2x 0.75l, costs about 6000 Euros. But good money can also be made in the short term with less expensive wines. Who would have thought that a bottle of Masseto 2001 would increase in value by more than 200% within 5 years! While the wine "only" cost 150 Euros in 2003, today you have to pay more than 500 Euros at the dealer. Customers and merchants are also shaking their heads at the new 2005 vintage of Antinori's Solaia. The price has doubled compared to 2004. Despite a worse rating than in 2004, despite the world economic crisis. That makes drinking, collecting and trading wine unique.

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