Comtes, Cristal and 1522

Champagne: The investment you never knew you wanted

It seems whenever we talk about champagne as a serious investment opportunity, a lot of people are unaware of the scope and great returns a seriously good vintage can acquire. The coveted champagne market is increasingly proving that investing in this fine wine is not the novelty it was once thought of.

Although entering into this business may seem a little intimidating, here are some questions I’ve frequently come across I’ve answered her for your investment information.

What are the top elements to consider when purchasing champagne as an investment, as opposed to buying a bottle to enjoy?

Brand power is important in this market – there’s a profit to be made from vintage champagne with ever-growing demand as the years pass as well as limited production. Exposure to brands through restaurants, nightclubs and notable publicised events will raise familiarity therefore increase the growing demand.

The year of the vintage is an important factor. The vintages of 1990 and 1996 are universally considered to be quite exceptional. The value of champagnes as an investment should not solely rest on critics scores, but the year the grapes were harvested in and their evolution over time. Jancis Robinson has published fantastic wine time charts which give you a good indication of how certain vintages mature differently: www.jancisrobinson.com

Past performance of vintages and specific brands does not guarantee future results. Use those stats as an indicator for the potential others in a similar category may hold in the market. The London International Vintners Exchange is a global market place for fine wine and a great way to start your research: liv-ex.com

What are the best regions or top brands to consider purchasing an investment champagne from?

Some things to consider is that the market is quite complex, with dominant producers at play and each house varying from one to the next. Moët releases several million bottles of Dom Perignon each year, Philipponnat release between 4,000 and 11,000 of their Clos de Goisses depending on the year and Champagne Salon only conduct around four harvests per decade to produce their vintage Mesnil.

Looking at these numbers there is no consistency throughout the entire bubbly market but don’t let that deter you! Other top brands to look out for include Krug and the of course Louis Roederer Cristal who’s 2008 vintage was the most traded in terms of value in 2018.

An example of a great investment opportunity can be seen in Dom Perignon 08. Aged for 11 years, the wine still holds its freshness and intense minerality. On the day Dom Perignon 2008 was released it sold for £1,200 for a crate of 12 and rose 16% in one day to £1,400.

Bottles that have been discovered from historic shipwrecks lost at sea dating back centuries ago. The sea was shown to be a perfect environment for ageing champagne, companies have begun using this method today to age their cuvées.

If you ever come across a little shipwrecked beauty, old or new, it could make you a pretty penny in investment!

How are investment champagnes managed?

Wine trading is an unregulated market, so if you ever want to invest you must find someone reputable. It is essential to do a background check on wine merchants. This includes them having an office you can visit – not just a flashy website. You should also never invest in champagne through a cold call!

Legitimate champagne investments are made in a number of ways. There is a large pool of private investors as well as collectors and auction houses. Champagne is a luxury good and there is always demand for it. With this demand, the Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) is a ground that regulates the available stock so there is no flood of particular vintages on the market – assets can only increase in value as champagne becomes more difficult to find.

How should I store an investment champagne?

Champagne investments need to be stored in a safe and temperature-controlled environment between 7-12 degrees Celsius. A dark room with no exposure to light is best so there is minimal light damage. Usually, when investing through a champagne merchant, they will already have a storage facility specifically designed to store your investment correctly and safely.

Any other important points I should consider?

In the past decade, champagne investment returns have beaten those from the stock market! It is important to note that champagne cases have risen 30% in value and vintage Cristal has risen up to 40%.

The average investment for a case of quality champagne is valued at around $2,755 SGD and one bottle at $230 SGD.

It is also highly recommended to buy these investment pieces in cases of 6 or 12, and to keep the original boxes. This increases the resale possibility by opening up your buy base to fine dining restaurants and hotels who will want to list rare wines on their lists and makes it easier to ensure that the wines they are buying are from the same disgorgement.

So, if you’re considering investing in some bubbly prospects, consider these points carefully and consult all of your options. If you’re still unsure or just need a friendly voice to talk through it all, our Emperor Concierge team is always ready to offer advice and lead you in a direction tailored to your needs and desires.

And if your champagne investment turns out not to be quite the success you were hoping for, you can always pop open your bottle and drown your sorrows in a wonderful vintage!

Storing Champagne

The 8 golden rules for storing champagne

Champagne is a living, breathing product which slowly breaths through the porous cork and over time oxidates. To avoid premature oxidation when storing champagne there are 8 cardinal sins to be avoided at all cost.

Avoid temperature fluctuations

The biggest culprit for spoiling wine is fluctuation in temperature. Ideally you should keep your cuvees between 10 and 12 degrees Celsius which would be similar to ageing them below ground in the chalk pit cellars of Champagne. They can be kept safely at warmer temperatures (we wouldn’t recommend any higher than 22, so room temperature in Singapore is definitely discouraged), but make sure the temperature is consistent.

Keep bottles away from bright light

Precious bottles can be very delicate and easily damaged by lightstrike, sometimes a few minutes in direct sunshine can age a fine drop prematurely. Keep your wines in a dark place, or shield them from artificial and natural light (eg screen them with tinted glass or wrap them in yellow cellophane or aluminium foil). Fluorescent lights can also fade the labels.

Ensure consistent humidity

The finest wine fridges and cellars replicate the conditions of an underground vault, and the conditions in your refrigerator are far from this. Humidity should be between 50 and 80 percent which rules out the kitchen fridge as the dry air will dehydrate the corks letting too much air into the bottles.

Keep your bottles away from vibrations

Placing your wines next to a moving object can increase premature ageing. Movement introduces unnecessary kinetic energy into the bottle which not only affects the way the sediment rests in the bottle, but also can cause chemical reactions which change the balance of the wine.

This is why the best wine fridges have wooden racks which absorb shock and shaking.

Lay down your babies

If you’re keeping a bottle for a special occasion, lay it down in the cellar. This keeps the cork moist and the liquid seals the bottle. Especially if this is a prestige cuvee or a special vintage. If you’re planning to drink it within a month or so, it can stay standing.

Size matters: the magnum effect

Take note here; a magnum has double the contents of liquid as a 750 ml bottle yet the same amount of air under the cork. This means we have a lower wine to air ratio hence the wine slows down its ageing profile and develops in a far more complex way.

The contents of a magnum are far superior to a 750ml and you will see much more depth and complexity whilst still retaining freshness. They also say that a magnum is the perfect size for 2 people… when one isn’t drinking.

Drink your non-vintage champagnes fresh, and age your vintages

Champagne is one of the only regions in the world where the cellar master decides on how long the wine should be aged, and sends it out to market when it is ready to be enjoyed. As a non vintage champagne is a blend of multiple years and sometimes many different harvest over the years, it already showcases the complexity that the winemaker had envisaged for this drop.

A good rule of thumb, is that the time the cuvee has spent in the cellar before being released to the world is the time within it should be opened. Most NV’s are aged around 3 years, so don’t save them for that special anniversary. Make your Tuesday evening an occasion by bringing out that special bottle.

Invest in a wine cabinet which will keep your champagnes safe and sound and shield them for all the above dangers. And if you don’t have the space, just drink it. After all, that’s what it is made for!