California might be relatively new to the fine wine investment scene, but the Golden State is quickly making up for a late start with some seriously impressive wines. Last year the London International Vintners Exchange, or Liv-ex as it is better known, gave a clear indication of the growing importance of Californian wines when it created a dedicated California sub-index. The California 50 tracks the performance of the previous 10 vintages of the five most-traded Californian wines on the Liv-ex platform.
Over the course of 2018 the newly-introduced Liv-Ex California has performed well, closing up 21% which put it well ahead of the Bordeaux Legends 50 and Bordeaux 500 indices which rose just 8.3% and 0.62% respectively. Most serious investors and collectors now have little doubt that California’s top fine wines represent an excellent investment opportunity. Here are California’s most exciting investment-grade wines which ought to be on every investor’s radar.
1. Opus One
It’s no exaggeration to describe Opus One as one of the world’s most sought-after wines. This iconic wine was born of a meeting between Californian wine guru Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the owner of the iconic Chateau Mouton Rothschild, in Hawaii in the 1970s. Their collaboration brought together the very best of Old World and New World winemaking to create an exquisite Bordeaux-style blend which has set a new standard for California’s youthful wine industry. Easily one of the most well-known New World fine wines, Opus One has become the darling of the Californian fine wine scene with average bottle prices almost tripling from £100 in 2007 to £285 in 2018.
2. Screaming Eagle
Screaming Eagle is another of California’s cult investment wines, but its creation story couldn’t be more different from the noble Opus One. Winemaker Jean Philips had sold her grapes to other Napa Valley winemakers before she finally decided to make her own wine in a plastic trash can in 1992. Today the wine has attained legendary status thanks to rave wine critic reviews and only 500 cases of this stunning wine are produced every year, making it hot property amongst serious wine investors. This scarcity and the eternal popularity of the Screaming Eagle brand mean that bottles regularly sell for thousands of dollars and represent an extremely robust investment opportunity.
The Vérité estate is based in Sonoma and produces three exquisite wines that each have their place in a wine lover’s heart and cellar. Named La Muse, La Desir and La Joie, these three wines are perennial favourites with wine critics and since 1998 seven have received 100 Parker point ratings. Designed to age and mature beautifully, the wines have enjoyed immense popularity amongst investors and the estate’s La Muse has even been nicknamed the “Petrus of California” thanks to the elegant use of Bordeaux varietals and Sonoma’s cool climate sloping vineyards.
This sensational winery only creates one wine each vintage which is crafted predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon along with other Bordeaux varietals. The proprietor of Kendall-Jackson Winery, Jess Jackson, made the first vintage of this wine in 1983 and since then it has developed a reputation as one of the most representative fine wines of California with fruit sourced from prime vineyards in both Sonoma and Napa. described by Robert Parker as “one of the flagship wines of the brilliant California visionary and vineyard owner Jess Jackson”, this inspired bottling is truly one to watch for serious wine investors.
Last but not least is another Kendall-Jackson project, the sensational Lakoya wines which are single vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from some of California’s finest sites in Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Diamond Mountain District, and the Spring Mountain District. The stunning terroir in each of these sites offers the ideal cool climate and harsh growing conditions to create stunning wines which have excellent ageing potential. Currently not as well-known as some of the bigger names on this list, these wines offer an incredible investment opportunity and are expected to repay investor loyalty handsomely in years to come.