Stocking up on Salon 1996

salon1996 Rob Rosania, a 38 year-old collector aka “Big Boy,” sold off around $5 million of his champagne and still wines at auction a couple of weeks ago. And yet he still remains one of the biggest collectors of champagne around.

This factoid from a recent Bloomberg article piqued my interest: Rosania owns 400 cases of the excellent champagne Salon 1996 (minus the five he sold at auction) out of a total of 5,000 produced. Poking around on the web revealed other sources saying that there were 8,000 cases produced. And these are six-bottle cases that we’re talking about. The champagne retails for $250 – $300 (search for the Salon 1996).

It’s a fascinating strategy for investing in wine. Rosania has somewhere between five and eight percent of this blue chip wine outstanding–and that percentage rises every time a cork of it is popped elsewhere. That’s probably a good percentage of the production to have to really benefit from a future price move yet not control the market entirely. It would be hard to take an equivalent percentage of a first growth Bordeaux wine since the production volumes are higher. All it takes is a big cellar and a cool $700k or so.

Even if the economy stagnates, wine such as this will probably always have buyers. Could it double in value in ten years? Even if it doesn’t Rosania can always have fun popping open the bottles of this fine wine with his saber.

I’ve tried a tasting-sized-pour of the 96 Salon and it is a brilliant champagne. In a wine investing video game, I might be tempted to adopt a similar strategy. If, in some fantasy world, you were going to take ten percent of a wine, which would it be?

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10 Responses to “Stocking up on Salon 1996”


  1. Romanee Conti: The greatest wine in the world ;)


  2. Given the quantities and the track record, I would take 10% of one of the first growth Bordeaux, either Lafite or Mouton. You could hold them for as long as you wanted.

    It might be interesting to do 10% of one of the ultra premium priced California wines like Screaming Eagle. I think you might be able to turn those over sooner with a larger % profit on the deal, but the smaller quantities make the Bordeaux deal way more appealing.


  3. The previous comment neglects that many wines are allocated and the market share could never be achieved, thus no Cal. cult buy-out. Likewise for DRC. Before the past few years vast cost hikes the first growths would be obvious choices. Even larger portions of a second wine, such as Carruades or Forts de Latour might be a good option as these have seen big gains from the years like 2000 or ’96. But the best bet would probably be a well known and highly coveted classified, but not first, growth, bordeaux.


  4. Are we talking about 10% as an investment position, or 10% that I would largely or mostly hope to drink with the sold-off bottles financing the total purchase cost?

    Either way, Rousseau Chambertin. It’s probably too allocated for one person to get 10%, but I think if you worked at it you might get it done.


  5. I’d like to get 10% of the 2005 lafleur or l’evangile pomerols. there aren’t so many cases as the big names – all the first growths are over 12,000. i wouldn’t mind having a big position in the 98 l’evangile either.


  6. I read on a marketing/branding site (blog.marketingdoctor.tv) that Champagne was considering expanding its borders..If it is, I imagine that this could hurt the brand’s image–I haven’t decided yet if this means I would take 10% a Champagne brand from pre border-changes…or if that’s the first thing I’d cut, just in case the price declined along with the image and taste (all very uh..hypothetical).


  7. [...] round-table with three American collectors, including the “Big Boy,” Rob Rosania (his Salon 1996 strategy we also already discussed), provided a quick observation worth [...]


  8. Hmmm…that’s tough, but I’d have to say, on the “romance” side of things, I’d have to say Armand Rousseau or Leroy, but practically speaking, one of the cult California’s would get the most return the quickest- like Bryant Family or Colgin, etc


  9. Not that I drink this wine but as an investor, the Molly Dookers are the hottest thing right now. If I could get 10% of the Enchanted path or Carnival of love I could make a killing.


  10. [...] (alpacas optional) The WSJ finds a stay-at-home dad who has sunk $120k into 400 bottles of 1996 Champagne, quoting him saying: “It sure beats looking at a Merrill Lynch monthly statement.” Um, [...]


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