Wine News Jun2020 v2

Fine wine news roundup: 1-5 June


Sotheby’s announces complete line-up for Hong Kong sale

Hot on the heels of its announcement of ‘The Summit, A Complete Cellar’, Sotheby’s has revealed further details on its spring series in Hong Kong.

On 6th July, the auction house will hold another single-owner sale, ‘Magnificent Bordeaux from the Cellar of Sir Dickson Poon’. The sale will offer an exceptional range of wines from the private cellar of international businessman Sir Dickson Poon, featuring more than 490 lots with a combined estimate in excess of HK$13 million.

Highlights will include: large parcels of Chateau Haut Brion 1998, 12 bottles in a parcel of 20 (estimated at HK$32,000-45,000); Chateau Rauzan-Segla 1990, 12 bottles in a parcel of 19, 2011 release (estimated at HK$14,000-20,000); and Chateau Cheval Blanc 1990, 12 bottles in a parcel of 15 (estimated at HK$70,000-100,000).

Then on 7th July, the ‘Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits’ sale will see more than 790 lots on offer, estimated in excess of HK$28 million. Led by large formats of highly sought-after Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, including 1999 La Tache in Jeroboam (estimated at HK$150,000 – 200,000) and 2003 Romanee-Conti in magnum (HK$220,000 – 300,000), the sale also features a collection of Harlan Estate covering two decades from the magnificent cellar of Park B. Smith, a rare assembly of Vega Sicilia Unico spanning six decades, Burgundy and Bordeaux from Leroy, Rousseau and the First Growths.


Chateau Palmer 2019 released at 33% less than 2018

Chateau Palmer has become the second major estate to release its 2019 vintage through En Primeur. At €161 per bottle ex-negociant, the Margaux third growth is on offer for 33% less than its 2018 opening price of €240.

The wine scored an impressive 98 points with Decanter’s Jane Anson, who said it is “up there with the very best vintages of this estate”. She noted that it is was “measured and elegant, with textbook floral Margaux character”.

Yields of the 2019 vintages were small at Palmer, with reports suggesting that 55% of the estate’s entire production last year went into its first wine. The 2018, meanwhile, was not released at all due to low yields.

Palmer’s second wine – Alter Ego 2019 – has also been released at £540 per case ex-negociant.

Subsequent new releases this week include Château Cos d'Estournel 2019 (£114 per bottle, down 23.5% on last year), Domaine de Chevalier 2019 (€39.60 per bottle, down 25%), Lafleur 2019 (£5,800 per case of 12, equal to last year), and Chateau Batailley 2019 (£168 per six bottles).


James Halliday to auction 250 DRC bottles from private cellar

Renowned Australian wine critic James Halliday is set to auction 250 bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wine from his private collection, in a sale that’s expected to exceed AU$1 million (£540,000). It will be the biggest of its kind in Australian history.

The sale – taking place online via private brokerage house Langton’s until 28th June – will include bottles of La Tache 1973 and 1999, and a bottle of Romanee-Conti 197, each expected to fetch between AU$10,000 and AU$12,000. Prices will start at AU$2,000 (£1,077) per bottle.

Halliday’s private cellar has been kept something of a secret until now, but reflects an incredible collection of wines from Australia and Burgundy. Speaking to Decanter, Halliday said: “I have been incredibly lucky and privileged to have been able to create this collection and its antecedents. The collection has been evolving continuously over the last 30 plus years. As I finish the oldest DRC wines they are replaced by the newest. It is dynamic and ever close to my heart and, as I grow older, the allocation has always had the joy of renewal.”

Later this year, Halliday plans to release a selection of Australian wines from his cellar.


Coronavirus changes China’s attitude to wine for the better

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic appears to have changed China’s relationship with wine for the better, according to new findings from Wine Intelligence.

Analysts say that the country’s 50 million-strong drinking population has seen “dramatic changes to lives and lifestyles” in recent months, easing concerns that lockdown had had a negative impact on wine.

“China’s 50 million or so upper middle class drinkers of imported wine have broadly responded to lockdown and associated restrictions by doing similar things as other markets," Richard Halstead, chief operating officer at Wine Intelligence, said.

“However, China is showing some crucial differences. While in other global markets, consumer wine purchases have gone up but spend per bottle has fallen, Chinese drinkers said they increased their buying frequency overall for informal non-food occasions, and also spent a bit more per bottle for this type of occasion.”

This reflects a wider change in attitudes to wine in China, which has been traditionally associated with more formal, in-person social occasions in bars and restaurants. As Halstead explains: “Online retail channels appears to have taken the lion’s share of these new purchases, with over half of respondents saying they have bought wine via an online retailer more often during this period.”


Aussie wines join Place de Bordeaux

Two much-revered Australian wines are the latest New World offerings to be sold through Place de Bordeaux.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz – both ranked as ‘Exceptional’ in the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine – will join the likes of California’s Inglenook and Opus One and Chile’s Almaviva on the historic distribution network. Both will go on sale via La Place in September.

Emma Thienport, co-founder of Australian First Growths – a network designed to promote top Australian wines across the globe – said: “By launching Wynns John Riddoch and Jim Barry The Armagh, a select number of Bordeaux negociants have shown an enlightened belief that our best wines can compete with the greatest in the world. As an Australian living in Bordeaux, that’s very exciting.”

Co-founder Tom Portet added that the launch represents a “new chapter in Australian wine history”.

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