Fine wine brokers turn to spirits as Trump duty levies bite
David Baker, Managing Director at Hermitage Cognacs, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of fine and rare cognacs, has noted a real upsurge in interest, demand and sales for Pre-phylloxera era cognacs.
Phylloxera, the aphid which devastated the vineyards of Europe - including its most famous regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy - from around 1863, led to vines being grafted onto American rootstocks which were resistant to it. There was considerable debate In the decades that followed and into the 20th Century as to whether quality of the wines produced after the vine-grafting was quite as high.
Brandies produced from Pre-phylloxera vines are increasingly rare and, according to Baker, becoming very sought after in recent years. The threat to exports of French wines, and single malt Scotch whiskies, to the US due to the US Government’s latest duty tariffs is also encouraging dealers and collectors to look for other liquids to buy.
“As well as our established market in single-estate cognacs of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, we’re now seeing a real surge in demand for cognacs from the mid and early 20th century, even some from the nineteenth century and before the Phylloxera. Many merchants are worried about the impact of US duty on imports of champagne, wine and whisky into America, and are looking to other spirits to replace that. At the moment cognacs seem to have escaped the duty hikes. In Asia too, especially Singapore, we’re getting greater interest for the oldest Premier cru vintages.
Baker continues: “Many of the Pre-phylloxera cognacs we have supplied this year come from very old estates, some where cognac production may have ceased years ago. The interest and historic value they hold is driving demand, and we are having to scour the cellars of the region for more rare bottles.
“Moreover, modern cognacs are made on bigger stills where volume is important, some of the finest cognacs come from the last half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries where family producers had little pressure to produce high cognac volumes.”
Hermitage Cognacs have a great pedigree in supplying very old cognacs – just two years ago an 1805 Cognac Massougnes supplied by them sold through Hedonism Wines in London for over £220,000.
Find out more at hermitagecognac.com