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Burgundy grabs headlines but claret buying sees a shift

Burgundy further cemented its place as the collector’s new favourite by dominating two auctions in Hong Kong and London but it was the sales of claret that most betrayed changing buying trends.

Latour Jeroboam 1900; photo credit Christie's photo library 2012

A vertical of La Tâche was the top lot at Christie’s Hong Kong sale at the weekend and Sotheby’s London auction was focused on a collection from Domaine Dujac.

The La Tâche vertical of 56 bottles made HK$1,210,000 although this was below its high estimate of HK$1.8m.

The next four top lots were all verticals of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti from varying vintages, the best-selling of which were the verticals of 1996 – 2001 and 1990 – 1995 for HK$726,000 apiece.

The first Bordeaux on the list was a jeroboam of Latour 1900 (pictured) which sold for HK$423,500 (high estimate HK$300,000).

Lafite 1982, Musigny Vieilles Vignes from de Vogüé and Cros Parantoux 1997 – 2000 from Henri Jayer also made an appearance in the top 10.

David Elswood, international head of wine for Christie’s, said: “This marathon seven hour, 705 lot sale saw strong demand for rare Burgundies and older Bordeaux, but selective bidding for many younger First Growths as the market adjusts to new price levels.”

Meanwhile, Charles Curtis MW, head of wine for Christie’s Asia, added: “These results demonstrate the continuing diversification of Hong Kong cellars, as clients focused on rarity, quality, and provenance.

“The emphasis is on great wines from great vintages across the globe. Vertical collections sold very well, as demonstrated by the HK$1.21m achieved by our La Tâche vertical. Seven of the top ten lots were verticals of this nature.”

At Sotheby’s auction the collection of Domaine Dujac stretched from lot 82 to lot 200 and was completely sold.

Bordeaux however remained the top selling region at the sale but it was the prices and vintages that perhaps showed a change in buying habits.

A case of Château Palmer 1961 was the top lot and comfortably went past its high estimate of £16,000 as the hammer came down at £25,850.

However, nearly all of the following lots stayed resolutely within their estimates and although 2000 and 1990 featured, so too did wines from the less-favoured 2004 and 2006 vintages.

Furthermore, five of the other top lots of Lafite and Pétrus were only of six bottles and in one instance three magnums, as buyers went in for better value.

It has been some time since a top 10 list was so dominated by lots of claret with estimates in single rather than double figures.

Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s European wine department, said: “Burgundy is clearly in the ascendency at the moment as all the Domaine Dujac found buyers at yesterday’s auction. The grands crus in particular were highly sought after with competition from telephone and online bidders.

“Elsewhere, Bordeaux performed well at both ends of the price spectrum where parcels of affordable claret were snapped up and a case of Château Palmer 1961 in its original wooden case and of impeccable provenance soared well above the high estimate.”

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