Skip to main content

Chinese New Year: the year of the rat or a year for Champagne?

Back by popular demand, Liv-ex takes a look at vintages for this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations. According to the Chinese zodiac, which moves in a 12-year cycle, 2020 is the year of the rat. The most recent “rat” vintages include 2008 and 1996 – both highly rated Champagne vintages. Drawing numerous parallels between the two, Decanter and the Financial Times have recently published articles on the miraculous nature of 2008 that has set it to become the “greatest ever”, even better than the “legendary” 1996.

But it is not only the vintages’ quality that makes Champagne a perfect fit for the upcoming festivities. As we discussed in our extensive report “Champagne – a market without bubbles”, Champagne offers steady returns and low volatility which have made it worthy of a place in any collector’s balanced fine wine portfolio. The region also represents one of the fastest growing secondary markets: its share by value is up from 6% to 9% over five years, while the number of Champagnes trading has risen 150%. The Champagne 50 was the second best-performing regional index in 2019, up 2.3% in a year of declines for the fine wine market.

Louis Roederer Cristal has been the most popular Champagne from the 2008 vintage on the secondary market. In 2019, it accounted for 8% of the region’s trade by value. The wine last traded at £1,722 per 12×75, 3% below its current Market Price. It is not short of critical praise: James Suckling awarded it the perfect 100 points, while the Wine Advocate’s Stephan Reinhardt claimed that “this is the finest you can get from Champagne”, despite slightly lower 97+ points at this early stage.

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008

For the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley, the 2008 Dom Perignon is “the finest release of this iconic cuvée since the 1996 vintage” (96+). With a Market Price of £1,250 per 12×75, the 2008 is available at a 54% discount to the 1996 (£2,700 per case). However, Dom Perignon has historically shown a strong correlation (92% R-square value) between price and age – its value rising as the wines get more mature.

Dom Perignon 2008

Dom Perignon 1996

Those with deeper pockets and a taste for pink bubbles might wish to consider the 1996 Dom Perignon Rose, which led trade by value from the vintage in 2019. The wine last traded at £3,800 per 12×75, 3% below its current Market Price.

Still, if Champagne is not your tipple of choice this January, there are “rat” vintages to consider from all corners of the fine wine world. These include the perfect 2008 Penfolds Grange, the 2008 Conterno Monfortino, described by Antonio Galloni (98) as “pure seduction” or the “perfectly balanced” (NM 100) 1996 Margaux – a relative snip at £6,500 a dozen for a First Growth with over 20 years in bottle.