BBX insights: three-bottle cases


Our Secondary Market Specialists, Charlie Montgomery and Tory Oliver-Bellasis reveal last month’s most exciting and interesting fine-wine discoveries.

The recent Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur campaign highlighted the extent to which all vignerons are at the mercy of the weather. Challenges throughout the year impacted on the quantity of wine produced – ’21 Bordeaux will largely be characterised by severe frosts. While volumes were down, the best producers have captured a natural and classic freshness which has seen sustained demand across the board.

With such low volumes and high demand, it is becoming increasingly difficult to source these wines for customer’s collections. One solution has been to reduce the number of bottles in each case – producers can reach a wider audience. Traditionally, a case was twelve bottles, then six bottles became the standard. However, in recent years the top wines from all the major wine regions have been offered in three-bottle cases.

It is not surprising, therefore, to see a growing number of three-bottle cases appearing on BBX; there are currently 757 listings from around the world. Of all ’18 Bordeaux listings, 10% are now in this format, with the likes of Châteaux Lafite and Mouton Rothschild and Château Canon leading the way as the most traded three-bottle cases. Of all Bordeaux wines from the last three vintages traded in June, 16% were in three-bottle cases – including 50% of the available first growths that sold.

On the face of it, three bottle cases certainly make sense. They increase the accessibility of scarce wines and collectors are therefore more likely to diversify and try new producers or new regions. Unfortunately, a split case dramatically decreases the wine’s value, but three-bottle cases come in more manageable units, allowing you to withdraw one case and keep another. Hopefully, the trend for three-bottle cases will reduce the demand for wooden cases, too. In this smaller format, recycled materials can be more robust – this can only be a good thing.

Read more insights from BBX here.