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Fine wine news roundup: 10-16 August


Sotheby’s announces ‘outstanding’ opening autumn auction

Sotheby’s first fine wine auction of the autumn will take place in New York this September, marking the house’s 25-year anniversary of wine sales in the city.

The sale – which takes place on 7 September – features 656 lots, mainly comprising ‘outstanding’ mature Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Highlights from the ‘Magnolia Collection’, which comes from the cellar of a southern collector, include cases of 1989 Haut Brion, 1990 Margaux, 2010 Pontet Canet, 1986 Lafleur and 1982 La Mission Haut Brion.

Also on offer will be bottles of 2002 Clos Saint-Denis from Domaine Dujac, 1990 Cros Parantoux from Emmanuel Rouget and 1990 Bonnes Mares from Georges Roumier.


World’s most expensive wines show price slowdown

Wine Searcher has revealed its annual round-up of the world’s most expensive wines, and says that while prices remain high, the “astronomical annual increases have ground to a halt.”

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti’s Romanee-Conti takes the top spot with an average price of $20,405, followed by Domaine Leroy Musigny in second place with $15,680, and Egon Muller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese in third, at $13,558. Domaine Georges & Christopher Roumier, Domaine Leflaive and Screaming Eagle Winery also make an appearance in the top 10.

Comparing average price rises across the top 10 most expensive wines between 2017 and 2018 shows an average increase of 43.9%. But as Wine Searcher notes, the average price increase between 2018 and now shows a rise of just 1.52%.

Between 2017 and 2018 the highest average price increase was 125.8% for Leroy’s Musigny. By contrast, this year’s highest increase was just 7%, jointly achieved by Roumier, DRC and Screaming Eagle.

According to Wine Searcher: “After five years of seemingly unstoppable growth [Burgundy] appears to have slipped a gear.” Disappointing news for those in possession of such wines who had hoped for further eye-watering gains, but also a welcome reprieve for those looking to invest before prices climb any higher.


67 Pall Mall to open in Singapore

Exclusive London-based wine member’s club 67 Pall Mall is opening its first international branch in Singapore.

The club, located in the Shaw Centre in the Orchard Road district of the city, will feature a 5,000 bin list with wines from 42 different countries. Some 1,000 will be available by the glass.

Like the London premises, the Singapore club aims to “democratise fine wine” and will offer a pricing structure that allows its members to expand their wine horizons.

Additionally, the site will store its members’ wine collections in a temperature-controlled cellar. Members are permitted to bring their own wine to the club for a small corkage fee.

Founder and CEO Grant Ashton hinted that 67 Pall Mall may be preparing to open in other international locations, too. “Singapore is a sophisticated market with an increasing appetite and appreciation for wine, making it the natural choice in our first step to international expansion,” he said, adding that members of the new club will be given free access to the London original as well as clubs “around the world that will be opening in the future.”


Israeli villagers unearth largest Crusader winery ever found

Recent excavations in a northern Israeli village have unearthed the largest Crusader-era winery ever discovered in the Levant.

The townspeople of Mi’ilya had come together to fund the excavation and restoration of a castle, allegedly built by King Baldwin in the mid-12th century. In doing so, the winery was discovered beneath a neighbouring house.

As reported by Israeli newspaper Hareetz, the winery is unique in that it had two treading floors instead of one – both of which drained into a pit from an earlier Roman winery.

Local archaeologist, Rabei Khamisy, told the paper: “The Byzantines had much larger wineries but the Crusaders had nothing comparable, as far as we know,” making the find the largest high-medieval winery yet discovered in the region, which remains a vineyard area today.


Wine is Britain’s favourite alcoholic drink

Wine has beaten beer and spirits to become the favoured alcoholic beverage among UK drinkers, according to a survey from YouGov.

According to the poll, 81% of adults that have drunk alcohol in the past year have drunk wine, compared to 79% for both beer and spirits. When asked to pick their favourite drink, 28% said wine while 23% selected beer and 20% chose spirits.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) said they believed beer would be the UK’s favourite tipple.

In terms of wine styles, 41% of British drinkers say they prefer dry whites, while 38% favour full-bodied reds. Prosecco outstripped Champagne 34% to 24%, while English sparking was the preferred wine style for 16%.

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