Italian and emerging market (EM) wines grabbed centre stage in James Suckling’s recently announced Top 100 Wines of 2020. In our view, this does not come as a surprise. Our recent investment reports discussed our favourable view of several South American and Italian producers that featured on the list, including five within the top 20 alone. Overall, Suckling’s list further supports our view that wines from these regions offer strong investment potential and confirms our ongoing overweight stance to EM and Italian wines.
South American wines in the spotlight
Argentina and Chile together produced 15 wines on the list. What stands out is that six of these were in the top 20, including Suckling’s favourite wine of 2020 – Argentina’s Chacra Pinot Noir Patagonia Treinta y Dos 2018.
While this strength may surprise some, we have previously highlighted that South American wines have been steadily growing in quality and that international recognition would not be far behind. Consequently, we hold an overweight position to Argentina and Chile. Even though Chilean wines took the top two spots at a Berlin tasting as far back as 2004, many wines from the region still offered compelling relative value versus more established markets.
Many of the producers we favoured in our 2020 US and Emerging Market Report found their wines cracking Suckling’s list including Cheval des Andes, Mendoza 2017 in the 9th spot and Clos Apalta, Valle de Apalta 2017 right behind it in 10th.
Italy goes from strength to strength
Italy was the real star of James Suckling’s list by contributing 20 of the 100 wines. Five Italian wines fell within the top 20, all coming from the Tuscan region Brunello di Montalcino with the majority from the 2015 vintage, which we highlighted as a superb vintage earlier this year in our 2020 Italy Investment Report.
Italy’s prominence rounds out what was already a strong year for the country. The Cult Wines (CW) Italy index had returned 8.50% year-to-date at the end of September, outperforming all other CW regional indices.
This performance backed up our decision to hold a tactical overweight allocation to Italy. Like its EM counterparts, we are not surprised by the country’s strength on Suckling’s list or by its 2020 performance. Our 2020 Italy Investment Report detailed the consistent growth and improvement in quality across the region in recent years, which contributed to the market’s defensive character. Over the past two years, the Italy 100 was the top performing sub-index within the Liv-Ex 100 with a 8.40% return versus the Liv-Ex 1000’s -1.59% figure.
This stability and improving quality helped drive our overweight allocation to Italy as we saw many producers, including Casanova di Neri which produced the number 20 wine on Suckling’s list, offering attractive relative value and excellent performance potential. In our view, the James Suckling list corroborates the already positive momentum in Italian wine.
Germany also demonstrates potential
Germany also impressed in 2020, according to James Suckling’s list. His top 100 featured 17 German wines including four Rieslings in the top 20. Similar to EM and Italy, we are keeping a close eye on German wines going forward as we see many attractive relative value opportunities alongside growing positive attention from critics on the 2019 vintage in particular.