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Lafite ’59 Sells for $44,100 to Top Christie’s NY Auction

Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1996
Three bottles of Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1996 from Burgundy winemaker Henri Jayer, which sold for $20,825 at a Christie's International Plc auction in New York on Nov. 15, 2013. Source: Christie's Images Ltd. 2013 via Bloomberg

A case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1959 fetched $44,100 at a Christie’s International Plc sale in New York, beating its estimate amid demand for historic wines even as investors have shunned more recent Bordeaux vintages.

The Lafite ’59 was one of the estate’s top six vintages of the past 60 years, according to online scores awarded by U.S. wine critic Robert Parker, and the price paid by a U.S. private buyer made it the top lot, beating Burgundies from the 1990s.

The auction on Nov. 15 came as the benchmark Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index gave up gains made in the first 10 weeks of the year, after investors deterred by prices of recent Bordeaux vintages sought older wines or alternatives outside the region. While Bordeaux still dominates wine-fund holdings, Burgundies have taken an increasing share of top 10 slots at auctions.

“The market has now spent the last seven months giving back the gains made in the first quarter of the year,” Will Beck, partner at London-based Wine Asset Managers LLP, said in a market report. The fund has $20 million under management.

A case of La Tache 1995 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti from the Cote de Nuits area of Burgundy sold for $23,275, while three bottles of Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1996 from grower Henri Jayer sold for $20,825, according to results posted online by Christie’s. Two bottles of Romanee-Conti 1998 DRC sold for $19,600, as did a 12-bottle case of Bonnes Mares 1999.

Pauillac Estate

Michael Broadbent, founder of the wine department at Christie’s, described the 1959 Lafite in his 2007 book “Vintage Wine” as “one of the best-ever Lafites, quite different from the more delicately fragrant ’53s and keeping well.” Parker, in a tasting note dating from 1994, when the wine was already 35 years old, described it as having “a super-aromatic bouquet of flowers, black truffles, cedar, lead pencil and red fruits.”

Lafite, a first-growth estate in Bordeaux’s Pauillac district, has more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of red-grape vines. Cabernet Sauvignon typically makes up from 80 percent to 95 percent of its wine, with Merlot from 5 percent to 20 percent, and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The vineyards, owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), date back at least to the 17th century and the estate has been under the control of the Rothschild family since 1868, when it was bought by Baron James de Rothschild, then head of its French branch.

A case of Chateau Latour 1982 went for $18,375 at the Christie’s sale, while 12 bottles of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from the same year fetched $14,700 and a case of Lafite ’96 sold for $12,250, according to the auction house’s online results.

Separately, an inaugural auction by Los Angeles-based Wally’s Wines and Crush Wine & Spirits at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art on Nov. 13 sold a total $2.68 million of wine, including a top lot of 33 bottles of Romanee Conti grand cru which fetched $132,000, according to an e-mail from Wally’s.

Following is a table of major wine auctions held so far this year, with the total sold in dollars. Links are to auction websites or results statements.

Jan. 11/12:     Zachys, Hong Kong                     $4.65 mln
Jan. 25/26:     Acker, Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong    $6.82 mln
Jan. 30:        Sotheby’s, London                     $2.22 mln


Feb. 2:         Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $4.40 mln
Feb. 21:        Christie’s, London                    $1.47 mln
Feb. 23:        Acker, Merrall & Condit, New York     $3.10 mln
Feb. 23:        Sotheby’s, New York                   $1.46 mln
Feb. 27:        Sotheby’s, London                     $1.04 mln


March 7/8:      Zachys, New York                      $5.81 mln
March 14:       Christie’s, New York                  $1.37 mln
March 15/16:    Christie’s, Hong Kong                 $6.19 mln
March 21:       Christie’s, London                    $1.22 mln
March 22/23:    Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong     $4.93 mln
March 23:       Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $4.42 mln


April 3:        Acker Merrall & Condit, New York      $2.30 mln
April 3/4:      Sotheby’s, Hong Kong                  $8.86 mln
April 17:       Sotheby’s, London                     $2.06 mln
April 23:       Christie’s, Amsterdam                 $1.23 mln
April 25/26:    Zachys, New York                      $4.13 mln
April 26/27:    Sotheby’s, New York                   $2.60 mln
April 27:       Acker Merrall & Condit, New York      $2.48 mln


May 2:          Christie’s, London                    $1.93 mln
May 14:         Christie’s, Geneva                    $3.96 mln
May 17/18:      Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $6.42 mln
May 22:         Acker Merrall & Condit, New York      $2.22 mln
May 22:         Sotheby’s, London                     $1.31 mln
May 24/25:      Zachys, Hong Kong                     $5.73 mln
May 25:         Christie’s, Hong Kong                 $6.32 mln
May 30:         Christie’s, New York                  $0.71 mln
May 31:         Christie’s, New York                  $1.93 mln


May 31/June 1:  Acker, Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong    $5.91 mln
June 6:         Christie’s, London                    $1.85 mln
June 13/14:     Zachys, New York                      $3.56 mln
June 29:        Acker Merrall & Condit, Hamptons      $3.40 mln
June 28/29:     Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $4.75 mln


July 17:        Sotheby’s, London                     $2.09 mln


Aug. 31:        Christie’s, Hong Kong                 $3.84 mln


Sept. 7:        Acker Merrall & Condit, New York      $3.15 mln
Sept. 7:        Sotheby’s, Hong Kong                  $4.51 mln
Sept. 7:        Zachys, Hong Kong                     $4.45 mln
Sept. 12:       Christie’s, London                    $2.13 mln
Sept. 13/14:    Acker, Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong    $6.40 mln
Sept. 18:       Sotheby’s, London                     $1.80 mln
Sept. 19/20:    Zachys, New York                      $6.18 mln
Sept. 20/21:    Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $5.03 mln
Sept. 20/21:    Sotheby’s, New York                   $3.96 mln


Oct. 4/5:       Sotheby’s, Hong Kong                 $12.10 mln
Oct. 5:         Acker Merrall & Condit, New York      $2.35 mln
Oct. 11:        Christie’s, New York                  $2.73 mln
Oct. 23:        Sotheby’s, London                     $3.73 mln
Oct. 24:        Christie’s, London                    $1.48 mln
Oct. 25/26:     Hart Davis Hart, Chicago              $4.70 mln
Oct. 26:        Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong     $5.13 mln


Nov. 9:         Sotheby’s, New York                   $2.05 mln
Nov. 12/13:     Christie’s, Geneva                    $3.59 mln
Nov. 13/14:     Sotheby’s, London                     $2.15 mln
Nov. 15:        Christie’s, New York                  $1.54 mln

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