Market overview – February 2013

Despite very high valuations demand continues to increase for prime assets in the top appellations, notably Cru Classé estates in the Medoc and Saint-Emilion. However, supply remains very limited and this situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

Smaller, unclassified estates in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol as well as Cru Bourgeois producers in the Medoc are also attracting interest, particularly those that have an established reputation and good commercial credentials.

On the supply side most new offerings are in the less prestigious areas, in particular the “Cotes” appellations, such as Bourg, Blaye and Castillon, and also Fronsac and the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superior appellations. The financial pressures faced by many producers in these areas are often behind the decision to sell so, although there is plenty of choice and prices remain relatively low, buyers need to do their homework before making a purchase.

An increasing number of buyers are looking at purchasing an equity stake rather than purchasing a property outright. This structure is particularly attractive to overseas investors as it enables them to secure control over supply without taking on the operational responsibility of the vineyard and winemaking. It can also be attractive from the seller’s perspective in securing both a capital injection and additional distribution.

There has also been renewed interest from “lifestyle” buyers in recent months. These buyers have typically either sold their own business or are considering early retirement and are attracted to the idea of owning a small vineyard, either to run as a hobby or as a secondary career.

Alexander Hall