Saint-Emilion winegrower Chateau Cheval Blanc and top Burgundy Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee Conti were among leading lots at a Zachys wine auction in Hong Kong this month before the Chinese New Year holiday.
A case of Cheval Blanc’s 1947 vintage sold for HK$1.23. million ($158,000), just beating the price fetched by a similar case at Zachys in Hong Kong in September and reflecting its perfect 100-point score from U.S. critic Robert Parker. Three bottles of Romanee Conti 1999 DRC sold for HK$318,500, slightly more expensive than the Cheval Blanc on a per-bottle basis.
Demand at the sale was driven by China’s Golden Week celebrations next month amid signs of a recovery in fine wine demand since the start of this month following a sell-off in 2011 and early 2012. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index of leading clarets has risen for three of the past six months, after declining for the previous four.
Other top lots at the Zachys sale, held Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 and marking the start of the New Year season, included 12 bottles of Chevalier Montrachet Domaine d’Auvenay 1993 white Burgundy, of which only 73 cases were produced. It sold for $116,375, above its presale estimate.
Other sales taking place this month include Acker Merrall & Condit’s two-day Hong Kong auction finishing today, which includes a case of Chateau Petrus 1982 and three bottles of the rarer 1961 vintage from the same producer, and a Sotheby’s sale scheduled for Jan. 30 in London.
The Zachys and Acker sales will give an early indication of demand from China in the first quarter of this year as investors’ attention has switched increasingly to rarer Burgundy vintages from the Bordeaux that initially drove the market.
Hong Kong’s share of wine sales by the world’s five leading auction houses slipped to 49 percent in the first quarter of last year from 57 percent a year earlier as the U.S. and Europe recouped market share. It was 43 percent for the whole of 2012.
Following is a table of percentage wine sales for the leading regions, based on data compiled by Bloomberg from the five auction houses. The figures exclude internet-only sales and major charity events.
FOURTH QUARTER 2012: Hong Kong: 41% U.S.: 41% Europe: 18% THIRD QUARTER 2012: Hong Kong: 48% U.S.: 36% Europe: 16% SECOND QUARTER 2012: Hong Kong: 39% U.S.: 46% Europe: 15% FIRST QUARTER 2012: Hong Kong: 49% U.S.: 34% Europe: 17%
TOTAL 2012Hong Kong: 43% U.S. 40% Europe: 17%