The Wine Spectator Auction Index is a composite of average prices for selected benchmark wines sold at commercial auctions. Updated on a regular basis, the index allows collectors to track the overall rise and fall of the wine-auction market. The index was created in the fourth quarter of 1995, with a baseline value of 100. The Wine Spectator Auction Index fell slightly in the fourth quarter of 2014, from 338.39 points to 333.30 (the all-time high of 371 was registered in the first quarter of 2011).
The index comprises 32 of the most important wines in today's auction market. Each wine's performance is tracked according to the top five modern vintages of that wine's respective category. For example, the index currently tracks the average auction prices of top Bordeaux wines from 2000, 1995, 1990, 1989 and 1982 because these vintages are widely recognized as exceptional years for Bordeaux, and because top wines from these vintages typically fetch the highest bids. In other words, these are the most sought-after and most heavily traded wines at auction.
The index includes 16 Bordeaux wines from the vintages just mentioned; eight California Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from 1999, 1997, 1994, 1990 and 1985; two Piedmont wines from 2000, 1997, 1996, 1990 and 1989; three Tuscan wines from 1999, 1997, 1990, 1988 and 1985; and three vintage Ports from 1997, 1994, 1977, 1970 and 1963.
Wines included in the index change over the years to reflect collecting tastes. Other top wines not included in the overall index—such as select Burgundies, Rhône Valley wines and other California cult Cabernets—are tracked in separate indexes.
All prices since the first quarter of 2004 are taken exclusively from commercial auctions within the United States. At present we track the results from the following major auction houses: Acker Merrall & Condit, Bonhams, Christie's, Sotheby's, Hart Davis Hart, Wally's and Zachys.