Lafite, Romanee-Conti to Lead $8.3 Million Christie’s Wine Sale

Romanee-Conti 1990
Bottles of Romanee-Conti 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wine, on sale at Acker Merrall & Condit's September Hong Kong auction. Source: Acker Merrall & Condit Companies via Bloomberg

Wine worth as much as $8.3 million, including a 300-bottle collection of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild spanning every year from 1981 to 2005, is scheduled for sale at Christie’s in Hong Kong this week.

The London-based house estimates the 25 cases of the Bordeaux first-growth wine, which it says have been kept in pristine condition, may fetch as much as HK$4.5 million ($575,400), or almost $2,000 per bottle. At that price, it would be the most expensive single lot of wine auctioned this year.

Demand from Asian collectors and investors has helped boost values of investment-grade vintages as wine has rebounded from losses sustained during the 2008 financial crisis. The Liv-ex 100 fine wine index has held on to the 6.8 percent gain it made in the first quarter of this year amid volatility in other markets, and is up 19.3 percent over the past 12 months.

“I’m struck each time I go to mainland China by the groundswell of demand,” Charles Curtis, Christie’s head of wine sales for Asia, said in a telephone interview from New York. “There’s nothing but upside to this trend.”

Christie’s is also offering a 3-liter jeroboam of Romanee-Conti DRC 1971 Burgundy which it says may sell for as much as HK$320,000.

A six-liter imperial of Lafite 2003 carries a high estimate of HK$100,000 while six bottles of 1911 Moet & Chandon Champagne are also being included as a single charity lot, with the potential to fetch as much as HK$500,000. The auction is taking place on Sept. 3 and Sept. 4.

Lafite Imperials

At a separate Hong Kong sale being mounted by New York-based house Zachys on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10, a collection of Lafite imperials covering the years 1995 to 2003 is up for sale, along with Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from a California collector.

Bonhams in London will feature two lots of Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Burgundy in its Sept. 8 sale. One, comprising 12 bottles of the 1990 vintage, carries an estimate of as much as 120,000 pounds ($196,500) while 12 bottles of the 1988 carry a top estimate of 80,000 pounds.

At Sotheby’s London sale on Sept. 14, Romanee-Conti and Lafite also top the bill. Two cases of Romanee-Conti 1988 DRC are on offer at a top estimate of 70,000 pounds each while two cases of Lafite are also on sale carrying a top estimate of 40,000 pounds. The auction also features Lafite 1986 and Chateau Latour 1982.

New York

Hong Kong, now the world’s largest wine auction center, will also see a sale by Acker Merrall & Condit, including a 12-bottle case of Romanee-Conti 1990 DRC estimated to fetch up to $HK1.6 million, while New York will have sales by Acker, Zachys and Christie’s. Hart Davis Hart will hold a Chicago sale.

Wine totaling $224.8 million has been sold by the five largest auction houses so far this year, compared with their combined sales of $354 million for the whole of 2010.

Auction sales of mature wines may be bolstered after Chinese and other buyers balked at price rises of as much as 80 percent being asked for Bordeaux’s new vintage offered “en primeur,” while still in barrels, said dealers.

September Sales

Following is a list of global wine sales scheduled during September. Dates may be subject to revision, and links are to auction house sale catalogues where available.

Sept. 3:      Christie’s, Hong Kong
Sept. 4:      Christie’s, Hong Kong
Sept. 8:      Bonhams, London
Sept. 8/9:    Christie’s, London
Sept. 10:     Sotheby’s, New York
Sept. 10:     Acker Merrall & Condit, New York
Sept. 9/10:   Zachys, Hong Kong
Sept. 14:     Sotheby’s, London
Sept. 16:     Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong
Sept. 17:     Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong
Sept. 17:     Hart Davis Hart, Chicago
Sept. 22:     Christie’s, Paris
Sept. 22:     Zachys, New York
Sept. 24:     Christie’s, New York
Sept. 24/25:  Spectrum, Hong Kong
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