Wine News 00B

Fine wine news roundup: 1-7 August



Christie’s $2.3 million fine wine sale is its biggest yet

Auction house Christie’s is celebrating its most lucrative online fine wine sale ever, following a recent auction that realised $2.3 million in total.

The sale of the Benjamin Ichinose collection – held online from 16-31 July – made more than 200% above its pre-sale estimate, and represents the biggest online sale held by the house since it launched e-auctions several years ago.

Highlights from the sale included old vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy, such as a Jeroboam of 1970 Romanee-Conti ($75,000), six bottles of 1971 Musigny Cuvee Vieilles Vignes from Domaine Comte de Vogue ($43,750), a magnum of 1929 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and a further two bottles of 1929 Haut Brion.

Elsewhere, buyers snapped up bottles of 1961 claret from Lafite, Cos d'Estournel, Petrus, Ausone and Burgundy’s Domaine Armand Rousseau, as well as an imperial of 1973 Mouton Rothschild and six magnums of 1961 Bollinger R.D.

Chris Munro, Head of Department, remarked: “This collection represented one of those rare opportunities to acquire great wines from an impeccable source, and our clients responded with enthusiasm. Well cellared, bought with strict guidance from importers and producers from a hugely knowledgeable and loved collector, we are delighted to report that nearly every bottle offered from this impeccable collection found a new home.”


Sotheby’s Hong Kong announces September sale

Hot on the heels of Sotheby’s successful spring sale, the auction house has announced its next event will take place on 5th September. More than 850 lots from the private cellar of renowned collector Dr Gordon Ku – who spent more than 50 years building his collection – will be on offer, estimated at HK$27-38 million.

The sale will feature an impressive line-up of Burgundy in a wide range of formats and vintages, including 62 lots of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, 11 of which are DRC assortments in original wooden cases, 54 lots of Domaine Leflaive, and 32 lots of Armand Rousseau.

From Bordeaux, bidders can expect an array of First Growth offerings, including Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion, Latour, Lafite, Margaux and Mouton, as well as the legendary 1961 Petrus and a double magnum of the 1970.

“This is the collection of a connoisseur, for connoisseurs, while it is also a collection to take hedonists to heaven. Exploration is what can be done here by those who are lucky enough to acquire wines from the collection,” said Serena Sutcliffe MW, honorary chairman of Sotheby’s Wine.

Adam Bilbey, head of Sotheby’s Wine, added: “Dr Ku had a taste for the classic regions, yet his curiosity and astute tastes meant that he built up an incredible collection of wines from all over the vinous world. His focus was very much on the enjoyment of fine wine and the perfect marriage between food and wine – which again is evident with the variety of styles on offer. Something to match every type of cuisine imaginable!”


Wine-Searcher reveals world’s most expensive wines

Wine search engine Wine-Searcher has unveiled this year’s list of the world’s most expensive wines, and despite a tough (ongoing) year for the market prices remain high.

Topping the charts is – as usual – Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, with an average price of $19,378. In second place is Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, at $17,224, and in third place – and a new entry – is Henri Jayer Cros Paratoux, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, at $14,667.

Burgundy has performed particularly well this year, with 33 of the top 50 most expensive wines hailing from the region.

However, as Wine-Searcher’s Don Kavanagh notes, price growth has slowed down in many areas – even those deemed the ‘most collectible’. The average price for Bordeaux blends from Napa, for example, rose by 28.75% from 2016 to 2018, across all wines on the database. For the period between 2018 to now, the average price rose by just 15%. In Champagne, meanwhile, the average price of a bottle fell by 1.54% since 2018, after a rise of 4.8% across the previous two years.

The figures also show that the biggest fall in average price has actually come from the top performer, with DRC’s Romanee-Conti Grand Cru seeing a 55 drop since last year. Meanwhile, the runner up – Domaine Leroy's Musigny Grand Cru – has managed to edge closer to first with a rise of 9.85% over the past 12 months.


China’s economic crisis is good news for wine

An already-slowing economy compounded by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may be wreaking havoc in China, but it could stand to benefit wine in the long term, according to Wine Intelligence’s newly-released China Wine Landscape report.

The report states that “China’s wine consumers have become more thoughtful, educated and less likely to buy a product that is overpriced and poor quality”. The economic slowdown, coupled with years of modest quality wines promoted as luxury products at exorbitant prices, will therefore “feed into a demand for true quality and worth”.

In a summary of the report’s main findings, Wine Intelligence’s Richard Halstead, said: “Online retail has enabled consumers to shop around for good prices, and also kept retailers honest in terms of the quality and reliability of the products they sell. In such a competitive space, a series of negative WeChat reviews can seriously dent a retailer’s reputation.”

This, in conjunction with a general move away from traditionally-ostentatious gift-giving to a “more mainstream, educated and value-conscious market focused on affluent, educated professionals in urban areas”, will subsequently hasten a growing maturity in the market, the report concludes.

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