14 Bottles Of Haut-Brion In Custom Console Sell For HK$1.2 Million (US$153,960)
This weekend, Christie’s held its highly anticipated Fine and Rare Wines auction series in Hong Kong. Coming two weeks after Acker Merrall & Condit’s landmark US$14.5 million two-day sale — Hong Kong’s largest of the year — this Christie’s series clocked in at an impressive HK$64.7 million (US$8.3 million), with 84 percent of the 1,200 bottles up for grabs sold by lot and 79 percent sold by value. While these numbers may, at first glance, seem a bit low by Hong Kong standards, a look through the auction results hints that the series is indicative of the flight to quality we’re seeing in Hong Kong. This reflects a clear trend emerging in the world’s top wine auction market: top-flight Burgundy like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) and Bordeaux like Château Haut-Brion are becoming the new darlings of the Hong Kong collector market, while previously untouchable labels like Château Lafite — though still popular — are showing signs of fading.
Following the auctions, David Elswood, International Head of Wine for Christie’s, said the auction house was “delighted” with the grand total of HK$64.7 million, adding, “The market is seeing a re-evaluation on certain wines; however, demand for the finest Bordeaux and Burgundy led the sale, emphasizing the growing demand in Hong Kong for premium wines with the finest provenance.” When Elswood says demand for the finest wines led the sale, he really means it: aside from a lot of 12 bottles of 1982 Château Lafite-Rothschild, which beat estimates to sell for HK$600,000 (US$76,986), Château Haut-Brion and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti comprised the remainder of the top 10 lots.
While Haut-Brion accounted for the two highest lots, one set of 14 bottles and a custom console achieving the highest total across all auctions this weekend at HK$1.2 Million (US$153,960) and another going for HK$1.1 million, DRC was the all-around superstar of the series, making up seven of the top 10 highest lots. Aside from two lots (one that sold to an American trade buyer and another to a European trade buyer), the remaining five lots of DRC — including the most expensive, 12 bottles of 1985 vintage that sold for HK$1.2 million (US$153,974) — all sold to Asian private buyers.
Despite the rising profile of Burgundy superstars like DRC, Christie’s remains optimistic about demand for the top Château of Bordeaux. As Charles Curtis, MW, Head of Wine Sales for Christie’s Asia, said this weekend, “[The Fine and Rare Wines: The Property from a Gentleman auction] was a strong finale to the Fall wine sale season with 100% sold by lot and value due to the exceptional range from Château Latour and other fine wines, all sourced from an impeccable European cellar.”
Added Curtis, “The top Château of Bordeaux such as Latour, Lafite, Mouton, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Pétrus continue to draw interest and competition from a global base of collectors proving the continuing status of Hong Kong as the epicenter of the fine wine trade in the world.”
While top Bordeaux will likely remain sought after by Chinese collectors for the time being, there’s no denying that Burgundy is the new Bordeaux in the Hong Kong wine auction market. Now the question is what effect this will have on the global Burgundy market. As Jing Daily noted last week, the renowned British wine critic Jancis Robinson recently wrote that greater Chinese demand for top Burgundy could prove “dangerous” in terms of driving up prices for the likes of DRC, Domaine Leroy and others to unsustainably high levels.