Liv-ex director Justin Gibbs is also confident that Spanish fine wine is on the ascent. With great enthusiasm, he reports that “2020 was Spain’s best year of trading activity yet recorded. There was a 75% rise in the number of distinct wines traded (LWIN7s) and a 90% increase in trade by value versus 2019.”
He added that many Spanish wines also benefited from being above 14% ABV, which meant they were exempt from the 25% US tariffs for the greater part of their implementation.
The demand for Spanish fine wine has historically emanated from aficionados rather than speculators. This has been accentuated by cultural norms, particularly in Rioja. The region traditionally released top-end wines that were ready to drink, at prices that were never wildly ambitious. Many brands like Lopez de Heredia continue to do just that. They represent Spain at its most charmingly atavistic. The country’s greatest strength has ironically stymied its foray into record-breaking hammer prices.
“The key ‘problem’ for many Spanish labels is that, despite their pedigree and all the positives that should translate into a secondary market, they don’t come across as investment wines because of the value they offer,” argues Gibbs.
“Look at the reservas and gran reservas from Lopez de Heredia or Rioja Alta, which can be released when they’re 10 years old and are available for £200-£400 per dozen. These wines sell very well when first offered and because they’re released at attractive prices and usually ready to drink, people have no qualms about doing just that.”
Yet Gibbs predicts that the secondary market for Spanish blue chips is poised to expand. Many of the emerging cohort of luxury labels follow the standard ‘cult’ wine recipe: marketed relatively soon after the harvest, they are small production cuvées with ambitious price tags –just the sort of wines to capture the imagination of younger, trend-setting collectors.