Odds are really good you do not have a significant part of your net worth or nest egg squirreled away in investor-grade wine gracefully aging in a bonded, certified cellar. But if you did, how would you have done?
Answer: not bad, plus you could pair your investment with a nice meal some day. Or, likely, not.
If you (or your forebears) invested in the top five French Bordeaux producers—those designated “premier cru”—over the last century, you would enjoy a 5.3 percent return on investment today. Adjust for storage and insurance, enjoy a 4.1 percent return.
Not as good as equities; better than government bonds, fine art, postage stamps.
Some additional insights from several recent studies in this arena: great vintages soar in value the first couple of decades, easily surpassing lesser-vintage siblings. After a half-century, however, it does not matter. If you keep a premier cru bottle of wine under proper conditions for 50 years or more, there are people who will pay plenty to own your bottle no matter what.
Interestingly, the goal is to own the bottle, not to drink it. The ostensible reason for the bottle being worth four-to-six figures is because it tastes unique and delicious, but because it tastes unique and delicious (and is worth four-to-six figures), you are less likely to taste it.
The study focused on elite of the elite— Haut-Brion, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild.
Which means you should not hold your bottle of Texas Red for your great grandchildren to get rich. Drink it now, maybe as part of an evening that sets in motion the creation of those great grandchildren.
Only a fraction of a privileged few play the wine investment game. The vast rest of us get to experience pleasure now. I’ve got my opinion on who enjoys the better deal.
Tasting notes (none tasted, maximum price noted):
• Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 Jeroboam (5 liters). $310,700.
• Château Lafite 1869. $233,972.
• Chateau Margaux 2009 Balthazar (12 liters). $195,000.
• Château Lafite 1865 Double magnum (3 liters). $27,000.
• Château Palmer Margaux 1961. $2,999 (listed to include an affordable bottle on this list).
Last round: “I’m like old wine. They don’t bring me out very often, but I’m well preserved.”—Rose Kennedy on her 100th birthday