2017 Wine Auction Season Off to a Mixed Start

The 2017 wine auction season began with two sales in Hong Kong in advance of the Chinese New Year holiday to mixed results. Acker, Merrall reported strong interest in their January 14th sale at Grissini for their consignments directly from Burgundy domaines. The domaines participating included Jean-Marc Roulot, Fourrier, Hudelot-Noellat, Lamarche, Lignier, Duroché and Clos de la Chapelle. Some prices commanded a premium as in the example of magnums of the 2007 Roulot Perrières, which sold for $2,975 each, as compared to $2,032 at HDH a year ago. Magnums of the 2007, however, achieved less than they did at Sotheby’s in December 2015 ($2,125 as compared to $2,245). Elsewhere prices were also moderately strong, with Acker reporting their top lot as six bottles of 1999 Romanée-Conti, which made $121,110 ($20,185 per bottle), ahead of last year’s average with premium of $16,174 per bottle, but considerably less than the $25,381 per bottle achieved last November by Christie’s Hong Kong. The Acker sale overall was US$ 5,492,773 over 992 lots, 92% sold.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong has also reported the results of their first sale of the season featuring the Connoisseur’s Cellar Part II, at US$ 3,333,581 over 939 lots, a rather disappointing 87.2% sold. Sotheby’s saw great interest in Pétrus (24 lots, all sold), and Japanese Karuizawa whisky, with 35 lots, all selling through completely. Elsewhere, as at Acker, however, prices were mixed. Two bottles of ’45 Mouton sold for $18,846/btl. This was less than the 2016 average, but it should be noted that this average price last year was considerably buoyed by their own result for Bill Koch back in May, when they achieved a remarkable $34,300 per bottle for the same wine. Six bottles of 1990 Échézeaux “Henri for Georges” Jayer, however, sold for $6,282, attaining very nearly the level they did in that landmark sale, when it brought $6,533/btl.

Hong Kong during Chinese New Year is a heady place, though it seemed that buyers were saving their excitement for later in the year. Let’s hope that the rooster brings his trademark passion and courage to the wine buyers everywhere. 恭喜发财!

2016 Wine Auction Market Analysis

Executive Summary

Auction sales picked up considerably in the second half of 2016, carrying the results into positive territory, ending the year at $299 million, +2.22% over last year.  While burgundy wine continues to sell well, prices for some top wines are beginning to plateau, although there is still upward movement to prices in this category.  Prices for Bordeaux wine are making a resurgence in the secondary market, although it is less than some hope or claim.  In the primary market for fine wine, the campaign for the 2015 Bordeaux vintage showed prices that were higher than the trade would like but lower than the producers would have liked, while the bellwether Hospice de Beaune auction announced results sharply down from last year.

2016 Wine Auction Market Review

The auction market for fine and rare wine finished second half of 2016 in vigorous fashion, with US$ 154.8 million in sales, +7% over the same period last year and +6.8% above the first six months of the year.  This made up considerable ground, as value had dropped by -2.98% in the first half of the year, despite some high profile sales during the spring season.  Interestingly, the increase in the total sales came despite a drop of 6.7% in the number of lots coming to auction, showing a healthy increase in the average lot value and pointing to greater quality of property coming to sale.

Specific highlights of 2016 included the following:

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