A case of Chateau Petrus 1982 sold for $62,200 at a Sotheby’s auction in London, below its presale estimate, as fine wine demand shows signs of weakening.
The 12 bottles from Bordeaux’s premium Pomerol estate, described as pristine, in their original wooden case and duty paid, made a local-currency price of 39,100 pounds with fees, below a presale hammer-price estimate of 40,000 pounds to 48,000 pounds. They went to a U.K. trade buyer at the sale held Nov. 9. A separate lot of five bottles, subject to value added tax, fetched 13,800 pounds, also below estimate.
The auction came as sluggish economic growth in Europe and the debt crisis in the euro zone held back demand for trophy- label Bordeaux, amid signs demand from Asia may be focusing more on competing Burgundy producers. The Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index, dominated by Bordeaux, has fallen for the past four months and is down 8.4 percent since the start of this year.
“It is difficult to know exactly when we have reached the bottom, but if the past is anything to go by, then we are probably not far from there now,” said Miles Davis of London- based Wine Asset Managers LLP. “Everyone’s waiting on the sidelines.”
A similar case of Petrus 1982 held in bonded storage with no duty paid sold at Sotheby’s in London for 59,800 pounds on June 15, while Bonhams achieved 46,000 pounds for another case at a U.K. auction on Sept. 8.
Other top lots in the Sotheby’s (BID) sale included a single bottle of 1990 Romanee Conti from the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, which sold for 8,970 pounds including a 15 percent buyer’s premium. While that rare Burgundy beat its pre-sale estimate of 6,000 to 7,500 pounds, it compared with the 126,500 pounds achieved by Bonhams on Sept. 8 for a case of similar wine in London, equivalent to more than 10,500 pounds per bottle.
The auction raised a total 713,200 pounds, below its presale estimate of between 866,500 pounds and 1.09 million, with 79.8% of lots sold. All of the top 10 lots went to buyers from the U.K. or Europe.
“What’s happening is, the first growths, over here anyway, are finding a level where people are comfortable buying,” said Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s European wine department. “It has been phenomenal growth over the past two years, and with everything that goes up, it will come back a bit.”
A case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1996 sold for 9,430 pounds, failing to make its presale estimate of between 11,000 and 16,000 pounds. Two separate featured lots of nine bottles, each including single bottles from the 2000 vintage of the five Bordeaux first growths plus La Mission Haut Brion, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Petrus, fetched 10,120 pounds and 9,775 pounds respectively.
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