Webb’s Head of Fine Wines & Whiskies, Marcus Atkinson DipWSET, started working as a sommelier at the London fine-dining institution, Le Pont de la Tour back in 2003. The role came naturally to him from his education, French background and experience. So too his recommendation of the best vintages of Bordeaux wines to diners. However, when price was the consideration, Marcus would recommend the Te Mata stable-mates, Coleraine and Awatea, from New Zealand. These wines provided an accessible and delightful alternative, punching above their weight on the global market.
International critics have often rated some of New Zealand’s best wines on par with those from the Loire, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhone. The prices achieved at auction for these wines show that there is still great buying to be had from Aotearoa.
In 2009 a tasting was held in London, which showcased Hawke’s Bay wines against the best of 2005 Bordeaux. Two wines from the tiny Gimblett Gravels area out-performed Bordeaux wines that were ten times the price.
The benchmark New Zealand wine at auction continues to be Te Mata Coleraine, with top vintages such as the 2007 scoring 95/100 from Robert Parker, the ‘Wine Advocate’ and the world’s most trusted authority in wine for over 30 years. In the past year, Webb’s has averaged a $233 price realised per bottle of Coleraine. When we compare this to similarly rated Bordeaux wines averaging a hammer of $621 per bottle, the value of the local superstar is worth it.
However, if removing the First Growths, Petrus, Cheval Blanc and Angelus from the equation, the average price is $378 per 95/100 Bordeaux bottle. This levelling of price in comparison to the New Zealand bottlings is encouraging some local vendors to sell their New Zealand collections. Vendors are selling their New Zealand bottlings for prices near those of their French competitors. With this rotation, vendors can opt to drink French wines for a fraction of the price when factoring in the sales of their New Zealand collections.
For Burgundy, the disparity is greater between New Zealand wines. For example, the benchmark at auction, Felton Road Block 5,
averaged $282 per bottle realised, versus popular Burgundies that averaged $994. Again, removing the Grand Cru wines brings the average price closer to $691 per bottle, at only 40% of the compared price. This reinforces local Pinot as an excellent value proposition.
Finally, Kumeu River Chardonnay is truly world–class. Their single–vineyard Chardonnays often out–shining Premier and Grand Cru White Burgundies for those lucky enough to have tasted both. Their Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay has averaged $135 in the past year against Corton and Montrachets average of $343 realised per bottle. This is a wine to watch at 38% of the value of the great white Burgundies.
Ongoing auction results evidence that, whether buying or selling, the market is buzzing and that New Zealand wine still offers excellent value. Marcus argues that there is a certain je ne sais quoi about the best French wines that cannot be beaten. He recommends keeping a sharp eye on what is coming to market, especially from Bordeaux. In saying this, New Zealand wines continue to have a seat at the table due to their exceptional quality and attainable auction prices.
If you are considering bringing your bottles to market, please contact our specialist team for an obligation-free appraisal.