The perfect vintage

Waiting on wine futures.

Imagine if you had to wait 40-odd years for a drink at the bar. If you buy futures in the 2005 Bordeaux wines, available for order this year, you'll be in for an equivalent wait.

Wines ordered now through a local Bordeaux futures dealer will be delivered in 2008, but, as is typical of French wines, many won't reach optimum drinking age until 2050. That's 42 years. But that's all right, because 2005 is being hailed as possibly the best Bordeaux of all time.

“Everyone is talking about 2005. The demand is going to be unprecedented,” says James Suckling, of the Wine Spectator, an industry bible. “I just tasted the 2005 Margaux, and it took my breath away. This is a wine that could be 100 points (out of 100) when it is finally bottled.”

You don't have to wait that long to reap the rewards of the 2005 crop though. At events like the annual Vintages and Ritchie's wine auction, held in Toronto October 13-15, wines of top quality usually fetch top dollar. A case of 12 bottles of 2000 Château Calon-Ségur (below) sold for $2,070, up a thousand dollars from its futures price in 2003.

But not all wine is destined to appreciate. Like any other futures market, there is risk. In that same auction, the 2000 Château Angélus, priced at $4,200 a case in its futures offering, sold for a mere $2,990.

Suckling and Robinson both agree that as a short- to mid-term investment, the 2005 vintage could be a bad place to park your money. “It may take a long time to pay off with such high prices at the beginning.” Suckling says. Though a three-bottle lot of 2005 Margaux is currently selling at Vintages at $2,985, a markup of 275% on the 2004 vintage. In Calgary, the same bottle will cost $800 at Willow Park Wines & Spirits.

All said, when investing in wine futures, one thing, at least, is for sure: even if your investment tanks, you'll still have a fantastic wine with which to drown your sorrows.