Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Wine Bubble

So, when did you realise there was an out-of-control property bubble in Ireland? Obviously, you will have realised it way before the Minister for Finance (now happily retired back in Offaly) or anyone else in the Department of Finace (unhappily still in situ), but was there a specific moment?

Was it when property in Dublin was more expensive per square metre than in Paris? Was it the articles about how a teacher/nurse/policeman could no longer qualify to get a mortgage big enough to buy a 3 bed semi within an hour of Dublin? For me, it was when AIB decided to sell all their buildings. It may have been 2006, not sure. It hardly matters.

There is something similar happening in the upper echelons of the wine world at the moment, most dramatically with a little wine called Chateau Lafite. About 5 years ago, you could buy the 2000 vintage for about €4,000. Now, it will cost you €24,000. The increase in price is being driven by demand from China, who have a particular fondness for this particular wine. Other first growths are also ridiculously priced. the price increases are not filtering down to the lesser lights in Bordeaux or anywhere else.

This is a bubble that will burst. The price will fall back to €4000 at some stage, but who knows when? For me, when a case of wine costs more than a decent car, it's equivalent to banks selling their own property.

If you have any first growth wines, sell them and buy almost anything else...


Lar said...

Hi Gabriel,

I was working in AIB when they were selling off their buildings (to their private clients and lending them the money to do so).

I distinctly remember saying to myself "crickey, we should sell the gaff" as it was a ridiculously overpriced small two bed and would have made a nice wee fortune.

I suppose the only think I got from it is the lesson to teach my kids, but I wonder if like this generation, if they'll listen to their grumpy old man.

Paul said...

I'm not so sure those Bordeaux prices will fall back any time soon. The Asians are getting wealthier and more numerous all the time but the supply of top claret is constrained.

The regular relationship between the quality of the liquid in the bottle and the price ended a long time ago and I don't really see any reason why those prices can't continue to rise.

When bottles of wine get so insanely expensive I wonder is disappointment inevitable if and when you eventually get to taste them ...