Updated: Jun 9
Words by Shreya Kohli
As surreal as it may sound, investing in champagne dates back to the 18th century. Since then the market has been through revolutions, wars, riots, and finally natural evolution. One thing that has remained stable over the years is that the champagne market is always fizzing and demand for older vintages has been steadily rising over the past decades. No other region in the world makes wine like the champenois, and the method has indeed proved it has a place as the world’s most coveted drink. And in the trend for premiumization, houses are releasing cuvées at higher and higher prices, which is increasing overall value per bottle.
Therefore, consumers are now not only inclined to pop the finest of fizz, but they are also buying them with no intention of drinking them. This niche market of prestige champagnes has seen growth even during the 2008 recession and the 2019-20 pandemic.
The graph below gives us an idea that unlike Bordeaux, champagne exhibits a relatively low correlation with the broader market and has seen significant growth at its own pace.
Champagne has out-performed in terms of low-rate volatility and has produced positive returns over the years. Over the years, the value of champagne has driven its appreciation and proven it to be more than just a glass of bubbles but a viable investment, which some consider safer than gold.
But not all champagnes are created equal. Liv-ex, the global marketplace for the wine trade and has a community of 500+ merchants and has over 16,000 products listed. It can be agreat way to connect with the world's biggest network of trusted buyers, and includes the Champagne 50 index, which tracks the daily price movement of the most heavily traded cuvées. These include prestige cuvées of the large houses, but also cult growers.
So what key elements need to be taken into account for a good champagne investment? Read some of our recommendations below.
1. Comtes de Champagne Vs. Dom Pérignon
Invest in a good vintage instead of investing in a brand. The comparison of Comtes with Dom Pérignon over the past top vintages has shown Comtes de Champagne, Taittinger’s prestige cuvée, outperform the world’s most known prestige cuvées. The graph below clearly shows how Comtes has bypassed Dom Pérignon, most probably because of its availability on the market (Dom Pérignon produces upwards of 3 million bottles per vintage, vs. less than a few hundred thousand for Comtes). Thus, it may be more fruitful to invest in a valuable vintage instead of a brand.
Average Scores of 1996 - 2006 Vintages by Richard Juhlin (2019)
Richard Juhlin is the world’s number one champagne expert, most famous for his skills in blind tasting. Since 1998 he has held the world record for most champagne ever tasted, having tasted more than 12,000 different unique champagnes in his lifetime.
2. Valuable returns from better priced vintages
Yes, we did say to invest in the best vintages but be aware you will have to spend a higher amount on them. For our new investors, investing in a vintage which is better priced like the 1995, 1998 or the 2007 vintage could provide you with better returns as well. Some of these vintages can be undervalued, and drunk earlier, leaving less stock on the market after a few years. Look out for vintages that are suitably priced and invest in that.
3. Rosé Champagne
An alluring and trending asset which can be included in your champagne portfolio can be rosé champagne. It has drawn immense attention from the wine investors and has shown great potential over the years. As stated by Michelle DeDeo, Champagne Laurent-Perrier’s U.S. President, “The CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) shows that in 2015 Rosé Champagne accounted for 12% of the champagne market and since 2005, sales for the category have risen at a rate of 3.6% per year.”*
On top of this, tannins from the red wine added to the blend, can increase ageing potential and make the wine keep it's structure for longer. Older rosés which are rarer will therefore be more and more sought after by diehard collectors.
Our recommendation: 1959 Dom Pérignon rosé... if you can ever get your hands on one. It was the first ever vintage of Moët & Chandon's prestige cuvée, and made in miniscule quantities. Last sold at auction for over US$ 40,000 a bottle.
4. Make sure you invest in cases
Value for investment wines is calculated in cases of 12, so buying a couple of bottles is probably not going to cut the mustard. Plus, having over 12 bottles means you will be able to resell your wines to restaurants, increasing your pool of potential buyers.
5. Background check of the wine merchant
Before investing in champagne, make sure you have done a thorough background check of your wine merchant with whom you are making the investment. Know that you are investing with someone who is already well known in the market and has a goodwill.
6. Storing your investment
It is important that you store your champagne in a safe and temperature controlled environment of 7-12 degrees Celsius. To avoid any kind of damage from light, store it in a dark room with absolutely no exposure to light. You can also check with your merchant, if they have storage facilities available as that is generally a safer option.
Now that you know the basics of investing in champagne and you are ready to invest in some fabulous bottles, here are the top suggestions to invest in.
Cult Wines, a fine wine investment company enabled us to shortlist these champagnes for you based on their outstanding performance over the years.
Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon
The following graph shows how Möet & Chandon, Dom Pérignon has performed over the years.
Source: Cult Wines
Salon, Le Mesnil
The following graph shows how Salon, Le Mesnil has performed over the years.
Source: Cult Wines
Louis Roederer, Cristal
The following graph shows how Louis Roederer has performed over the years.
Source: Cult Wines
Pol Roger, Sir Winston Churchill
The following graph shows how Pol Roger has performed over the years.