Chateau Petrus 1988 Pomerol and Latour 2000 Pauillac both beat estimates at a Sotheby’s (BID) auction in a sign that Bordeaux prices are rallying and demand continues for rarer Burgundies.
A case of Bordeaux right-bank Petrus fetched 12,338 pounds ($19,580) including a 17.5 percent buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s in London. Twelve bottles of first-growth Latour 2000 went for 10,575 pounds. These had been given upper hammer-price valuations of 10,000 pounds and 9,000 pounds respectively.
This London auction underlined the recovery in investor demand for selected clarets after last year’s slide. The Bordeaux-based Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index (LXFW50) has risen 3 percent since the start of 2012. It is little changed since early March after gains in January and February that snapped a six-month drop, as Chinese collectors focused more on Burgundies and second-tier Medocs rather than Bordeaux first-growths such as Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
“The market has broadened,” said Stephen Williams, founder of the London-based Antique Wine Company. “Prices of Lafite reached a level that was unsustainable. We see a much more conventional market growing in Asia.”
The most expensive Bordeaux lots in the Sotheby’s sale were six magnums of Chateau Le Pin 1990 that fetched 28,200 pounds and a rare 12-bottle case of the same wine that sold for 25,850 pounds. The auction raised 2.76 million pounds, with 98 percent of 892 lots successful.
Among the Burgundies, three bottles of Henri Jayer Vosne- Romanee Cros Parantoux 1990 sold to an Asian bidder for 42,300 pounds, more than double their presale estimate and the top price for the sale on March 21.
Jayer, who died in 2006, was one of Burgundy’s most revered wine-makers. His Cros Parantoux, from a 2.5-acre premier cru vineyard that was an artichoke field in World War II, has acquired trophy status after a case of the 1985 vintage fetched a record HK$2.06 million ($265,645) at Christie’s International in Hong Kong last month.
“This Burgundy has a status similar to Romanee-Conti in Asia at the moment,” Stephen Mould, Sotheby’s London-based senior director of wine, said in an interview. “Though it’s always been a rare and expensive wine, that result in Hong Kong may have had an influence. More names are coming into play, which is healthy.”
Armand Rousseau is another top Burgundy maker attracting Asian interest. Lots containing four dusty bottles of Rousseau’s 1959 Chambertin sold just above estimate to an Asian buyer for 25,300 euros ($31,172) and 21,850 euros each at Christie’s in Paris on March 22.
Of the more than $54 million of wine sold in auction rooms so far this year by the four largest houses Acker, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Zachys, $27.25 million was raised in Hong Kong, more than $11 million in London and about $7 million in New York. The London total exceeded $14 million if sales by Bonhams and Spectrum Group International Inc. are included, closing the gap with Asia.
“Market sentiment has improved in the first two months of 2012 and it now seems likely that the correction has run its course,” Miles Davis and William Beck, partners in London-based Wine Asset Managers LLP, said in a monthly market report e- mailed March 13. “While it is difficult to say whether we are now at the start of the next prolonged period of growth, the return in confidence required for that to happen is more evident.”
Investors’ attention has focused on the Bordeaux 2009 vintage in recent weeks as U.S. wine critic Robert Parker published his revised assessments of the top wines, leading to price gains for those producers assigned higher scores.
“The 2009 vintage is very expensive and most brands command large premiums,” Davis and Beck said. “After the hype has died down, the medium-term upside must surely be greater for the high-quality back vintages.”
(Guy Collins and Scott Reyburn write about the art and wine markets for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are their own.)
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