Burgundies Steal the Wine Investment Limelight at Sotheby’s London Sale
On 2 March 2013, Bloomberg reported that a case of white Montrachet 1993 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti fetched the top price at Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) recent auction in London. While clarets also enjoyed healthy wine investment attention with buyers snapping up lots of 1989 Haut-Brion, the sale highlighted the growing demand for rare Burgundies which have been driving investment-grade wine prices at several recent auctions.
**Montrachet Leading Sotheby’s London Sale**
Bloomberg reported that Sotheby’s London sale saw six bottles of white Montrachet 1993 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru Burgundy sell for £21,150, matching the auction house’s high estimate. In addition, a similar half-case fetched £18,800. As noted in Sotheby’s press release, both Burgundy lots went to Asian buyers.
Bordeaux also attracted some wine investment attention with three cases of Chateau Haut Brion 1989 vintage, the Bordeaux vineyard’s most expensive of the past half-century, selling within their pre-sale estimates. The Drinks Business magazine reported that one case of Chateau Haut-Brion 1989 was sold to an Asian buyer for £10,810, slightly below its high estimate of £11,000. Two other cases went under the hammer for £ 9,988 each. Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 1989 also attracted a lot of interest, with buyers from the UK snapping up cases for over £7,000 each.
**Burgundy in the Wine Investment Focus**
While Bordeaux is generally seen as dominating the fine wine market, Bloomberg reported that recent demand has focused more on rarer Burgundies, with Asian collectors in particular trying to diversify away from heavily-traded Bordeaux labels. In January, a six-magnum case of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Assortment 1990 fetched HK$541,200 (£45,092) at an Acker Merrall & Condit sale in Hong Kong, whereas a case of 1990 vintage from Burgundy vintner Henri Jayer’s Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux vines went for $113,525 (£86,219) at a Hart Davis Hart Wine Co auction in Chicago.
In addition, Acker Merrall & Condit sold a three-bottle lot of 2006 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti for $27,060 at its February sale in New York, along with 12 bottles of Leroy Romanee-Saint- Vivant 1962 for $24,600 and Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze 1990 for $18,450. Christie’s in turn sold a case of Montrachet 1988 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti for $33,880 at an online auction, whereas two bottles of the 1985 vintage went under the hammer for $7,260.
In February, a Cellar Watch market report showed that Burgundy trade hit a record high in January, with the region’s share rising to 14.5 percent.
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With both Burgundy and Bordeaux attracting wine investment attention from collectors and traders, Sotheby’s reported that it raised £685,825 at its London auction, comfortably above the pre-sale high estimate of £645,660. Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s European Wine Department, commented in the auction house’s press release that the sale was a “resounding success”, adding that there was “strong competition for Châteaux Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut Brion from an aristocratic cellar, as well as for mature vintages of first growths and other classed growth Bordeaux, and Burgundy from top growers such as DRC, Dugat-Puy, Leflaive and Rousseau”.
Sotheby’s London sale adds to other upbeat auction results during February to suggest revived wine investment interest this year. Bloomberg reported that the Liv-ex 50 fine wine index, which tracks trading in the 10 most recent vintages of Bordeaux’s five first-growths, rose 2.9 percent in February, posting its third consecutive monthly gain. In addition, as noted on the Liv-ex website, the Liv-ex fine wine 100 index rose 3.5 percent last month, pointing to a wider recovery in the fine wine market.
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