The increase outstripped the performances of watches, cars, furniture, coloured diamonds, stamps and jewellery during the year, with wine matching the 9% rise recorded by art and by the overall index.
However, it lagged behind coins – up 12% on the year – and whisky, which marked its debut on the index with a 40% increase compared to 2017.
The year was marked by high prices for the rarest wines, including a bottle of La Romanée-Conti 1945, which was sold for US$558,000 by Sotheby’s in October, making it the most expensive bottle of wine sold at auction.
Nick Martin of Wine Owners, the fine wine trading platform which supplied the index data, said: ‘Just when we thought the limits at the top of the market were being tested, 2018 saw further rapid price escalation for Burgundies, notably top Grands Crus from the “Rs” (Raveneau, Romanée-Conti, Roumier and Rousseau), driving our Burgundy index up 33%.’
He also highlighted the performance of California wines (Wine Owners’ California index rose 17.5% on the year), and a resurgence for ‘undervalued, accessible’ Riojas such as those from Tondonia and CVNE.
Martin added: ‘It’s hard to predict where the top end of the market will go from here, but it’s likely this pattern of polarisation favouring blue-chip wine from top producers will continue, with prices accelerating, in particular as the wines approach their drinking windows.’
The surge in interest in and prices for rare whisky was illustrated by a number of record-breaking bottles of 60-year-old Macallan, distilled in 1926, coming to auction, culminating in the £1.2m paid for a bottle hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon at Christie’s in London last November.
Looking at long-term trends, Knight Frank’s wine index has risen 147% over the past 10 years, leaving wine sixth in the rankings behind whisky (+582%), coins, art, cars and stamps, and lagging behind an overall index increase of 161%.