Wine auctions not hitting the high notes

The continuing trend for wines not breaking their estimates was evident again as Sotheby’s conducted a two day auction in Hong Kong.

Although 100% sold by lot, the majority of the top sales – even favourites such as Lafite and Pétrus – often failed to reach their high estimates.

Two over-achievers were identical lots of six magnums of 1982 Château Latour, which went over the high estimate of HK$240,000 to sell for HK$314,600.

Six magnums of Pétrus 2006, a case of Pétrus 2005 and six bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2000 also sold well.

But the likes of Pétrus 1995, Lafite 1982, Armand Rosseau Clos de la Roche 1945 and Mouton-Rothschild 1982 all failed to break through their high estimates.

This may partly be due to auction houses finally hitting estimates that more accurately reflect their clients’ spending but it also comes at a time when Liv-ex is noting a downturn in its Fine Wine 100 index, similar to that of 2008.

Furthermore, average prices at auction for vintages such as 1982, 1990 and 2000 have fallen since the highs of last winter.

For example, after hitting highs in October last year, average prices for Lafite 1982 had fallen by 41% when the auctions stopped for the summer of this year.

Similarly, prices for Latour 2000 between October 2010 and July 2011 fell 33% on average, while prices of DRC 1990 fell some 16% between January and April of this year.

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