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Risers and fallers in the 2021 Classification

By September 20, 2021Bordeaux, Fine Wine Market, Italy

Italy was the big winner of this year’s Liv-ex Classification, while it was Bordeaux labels that tumbled down the charts. But which wines went up and which went down? 

  • Just nine wines rose in the rankings in this year’s Classification. 
  • A total of 28 wines dropped a tier. 
  • Italian wines dominated the risers, Bordeaux labels the fallers. 

This August we published the 2021 Liv-ex Classification. Released every two years, the classification groups the leading labels in the secondary market by their average market price – in a similar manner to the 1855 classification in Bordeaux. 

On the one hand, there are some constants in every classification. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti with its bank-busting prices will always be in the 1st tier for example, alongside a handful of other top Bordeaux, Burgundy and US wines. 

On the other hand, the classification reflects the wider trends in the market. At present of course this centres around a much broader market, where buyers are chasing after Italian, American, Australian and other French labels. 

As these labels rise in value, so their upward progress is reflected in the rankings, while those wines that are currently being overlooked tend to take a step back as their price appreciation stalls. 

Risers and fallers in 2021

It is often easier to lose momentum in the secondary market than to gain it. In total, only nine wines moved up the rankings this year versus 28 that went down. 

There were no wild swings in either direction either. Up or down, no label moved more than one tier – which will be of greater comfort to the fallers. 

It’s important to reiterate here that if a wine drops a tier, it is not a sign of absolute rejection and prices circling the drain. 

The majority of the wines that declined this year easily passed additional criteria for inclusion based on vintages traded and total trades. 

With the Liv-ex 1000 having risen 6% over the past year, however, the price brackets for each tier have risen accordingly. 

For estates that might have been on the edge of a tier in 2019, it was all too easy to find oneself on the wrong side of the new boundaries therefore. 

Going up 

It was a select group of wines that rose in the rankings this year. As can be seen in the table above, seven of the nine were Italian, highlighting the progress that the country has made in the secondary market over the past few years. 

Four Piedmontese wines rose from the 2nd to 1st tier. Often dubbed the “Burgundy of Italy” because of its size and focus on single vineyards produced by small domains, the prices of certain Piedmontese wines are beginning to follow in Burgundy’s footsteps as well.  

The eye-catching news here was the promotion of Super Tuscan Tignanello to the 2nd tier. Currently one of the most affordable of the five core Super Tuscans, it has been one of the best-performing over the past year. 

As can be seen from the chart below, as well, four of its recent vintages have enjoyed steady gains Since January 2020 to now. 

Very much a brand on the rise. 

Heading down

A much wider slate of wines dropped a tier in 2021. If Italy dominated the wines that rose, Bordeaux labels suffered the most from the broadening market. 

The bulk of drops came from estates dropping from the 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th tiers. These included wines such as Beychevelle, Haut-Bailly, Léoville Barton, Rauzan-Ségla and Pape Clément dropping into the 3rd tier, and d’Issan, Talbot and Giscours moving down to 4th. 

The notable addition here is Angélus, which was one of a small group of wines that dropped from the 1st tier to 2nd. 

Again, many of these wines missed out on staying in their former tiers by very thin margins and their trade levels are still very respectable. 

But it does go to show that there buyers are not as focused on Bordeaux as much as they used to be, and there are undoubtedly vintages in these estate’s back catalogues that are proving a deadweight to their overall average.  

Want to read the full classification? Claim your copy of the the Liv-ex 2021 Classification using the form below…