Investment-grade wines can come from regions all over the world, but those that can be deemed ‘fine wine’ are subject to strict controls. Regulations vary from country to country, but are generally enshrined in law, with some classifications dating back more than 100 years.
It’s no surprise; given its illustrious winemaking history
that France is home to the largest proportion of investment grade wines. The adjacent graphic demonstrates the current geographical split of investment grade wines by region.
The most famous sparkling wine region in the world contains some of the most renowned wine producers. The region that surrounds the towns of Reims and Epernay to the east of Paris produces the most famous sparkling wine of them all champagne. Only three grape varieties can be used here, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and producers both large and small apply them in varying proportions to impose their own house style. Whilst champagne is regarded as the ‘King’ many other regions are making a name for themselves by producing top quality investable sparkling wines – Italy, New Zealand, USA and England are amongst the most noteworthy examples. Louis Roederer, Cristal, Dom Perignon, Krug, Bollinger and Taittinger are all brands that carry worldwide recognition. Still seen as the ultimate luxury commodity, Champagne provides investors with a great opportunity to take advantage of the blossoming Asian market for sparkling wine.
The Rhone Valley is a large, viticulturally region that is continually growing in popularity. It is the second biggest fine wine region in France and only Bordeaux has more vineyards across one region. There are more than 71,000 hectors of Vines planted in the Rhone Valley today. There are 27 unique grape varieties allowed for producing in their own Valley, with more than 5,000 different producers actively involved in producing wine. Wines from the Côtes du Rhône region are largely produced with the Grenache grape. At the highest level there are 15 Crus that are labelled according to their village names, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Crozes-Hermitage and Côte Rôtie. In recent years single vineyard wines have become popular (thanks to the efforts of Marcel Guigal), with the most lucrative being La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque.).
California’s wine growing regions produces unique and diverse wines, with different flavours and characteristics being derived from the soil, climate and the winemakers that create them. Ranging from abundant sunshine to cool coastal air, plus a variety of soils and terrain, each region lends its own personal touch to the varietals grown there. A Chardonnay grown in the Central Valley can seem like an entirely differently grape when compared to a Chardonnay produced from Monterey grapes. This diversity means that within the state, there is a wine for every palate. In 1976 the Napa Valley received a boost in worldwide recognition when a couple of its wines outperformed several famous French labels. With over 450 wineries in Napa, the Californian wine region is now one of the most popular wine tourism areas in the world.
With an annual production of only 400-750 cases, Screaming Eagle is the top name in American wine. The 1992 vintage was awarded a Parker score of 99 points and can sell for over £5,000 a bottle. Opus One – another Californian winery – was established in 1982 by two of the wine industry’s giants: Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi. Their aim was simple; to create a Bordeaux-style wine with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. With Rothschild’s name on the label, this wine helped to put Napa on the map, and Opus One, together with Screaming Eagle, lead the way in terms of quality American wine.
With nearly a quarter of world wine production coming from Italy, it is the only country in the world that produces as much fine wine as France. With the most renound being the ‘Super Tuscans’ which are gradually making their way in t the list of top wine investments. The UK, Germany and the USA are the leading importers of Italian wine. With over 4000 years of wine production behind them, Italian vineyards produce some incredible wines.