September 2016 wine auction recap

Executive Summary:

Bordeaux continues to strengthen; provenance increasingly important as single-owner and ex-domaine sales do very well; Burgundy trends are mixed but overall generally still positive.

Detail:

The fall auction season opened with a multi-vendor sale by Christie’s Hong Kong, led by rare wines from the library of Bouchard Père et Fils. The top-grossing lot in the sale was a case of ’88 Romanée-Conti that sold for more than $174,000, a vigorous result. The old property from the Bouchard cellar also did well, making 260% of the pre-sale low estimate. Chambertin 1865 sold for nearly $40,000 per bottle, and Montrachet 1865 sold for more than $25,000 per bottle.

Sotheby’s sold on September 3rd as well in Hong Kong. The sale was notable for the fact that all of the top ten highest-grossing lots were Bordeaux wine, led by a case of 1982 Lafite that sold for more than $25,000 with premium, well ahead of recent trends.

The following weekend the action shifted to New York, where Acker sold just over $4 million all-in during a two day sale (split between Thursday night an Saturday night). The top lot was a case of ’85 Rousseau Chambertin that made more than $34,000. Even more impressive was the next-highest grossing lot: six bottles of ’99 La Tâche made more than $32,000, far outperforming the market. Curiously, Acker’s reported sell-through rate was 92%, respectable but somewhat off the average for New York of late.

This same weekend, Sotheby’s auctioned the wines of John Brinko in a two day multi-vendor sale that totaled more than $4.8 million with premium. The sale was led by two ten-bottle lots of DRC Montrachet 1985 that made $46,500 and $42,875 respectively. The price of this wine has corrected sharply in recent months, dropping from an average of over $7,800 per bottle in 2015 to just over $5,000 per bottle this year to date, and the Sotheby’s sale was below this figure. The sale, in aggregate, was only 87.7% sold by lot, a surprisingly low figure. In addition to the Brinko sale, the Sotheby’s team sold a special engraved decanter of Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac for $134,750.

On the same weekend in Hong Kong, Zachys sold the first half of their anonymous single owner sale called “The Vault” in a $5.9 million, 100% sold sale. The aggregate hammer was 126% of the pre-sale low estimate. Three lots tied for the honor of highest-grossing lots, and two were Bordeaux. Selling for HK$ 490,000 (US$ 63,226) each were an imperial of ’59 Lafite, six magnums of ’82 Lafleur, and 5 bottles of ’96 Romanée-Conti.

On the 14th, Sotheby’s held a small ($1.3 million) sale in London (92.8% sold), led by a dozen ’89 Pétrus that sold for $37,224, well behind the pace set by Zachys and Acker in New York later the same month. Christie’s and Bonham’s also both went to market with small sales in London that same week. The Christie’s sale made $1.02 million (88% sold), while the Bonham’s sale $1.17 million (91.4% sold). The top lot in the Christie’s sale was a dozen Romanée-Conti ’88 which sold for just more than $155,000.

The largest sale of the month was the Aubrey McClendon sale at HDH in Chicago. Mr. McClendon had sold much of his collection at the peak of the market with Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. However, his estate chose HDH to sell a portion of the remaining wine in the U.S. The sale totaled $7.05 million hammer (100% sold) against a pre-sale estimate of $5.11 – $7.67 million. All of the top ten lots by price were Pomerol, either Pétrus or Le Pin. The top lot was three double magnums of ’89 Pétrus which made $65,725 with premium, by a clear margin the top price since the peak of the market back in 2010, when Sotheby’s sold three for $93,581. Oddly a second three in the same HDH sale sold for only $45,410.

On September 19th the Heritage wine sale made an aggregate $2.62 million (90.7% sols), led by a case of 1985 DRC Grands Echézeaux which made $29,280 all-in. On the 22nd, Zachy’s returned to the block, this time in New York, to sell another 1,920 lots for a total of $7.23 million (99% sold) with premium against a pre-sale estimate of $5.17 – $7.90 million, a very strong result. Perhaps most spectacular was a case of ’61 Petrus that earned an impressive $140,875 for the dozen. ’61 Latour and ’61 La Mission Haut-Brion also had a good day, earning $49,000 per dozen each.

Results were overall less favorable at Acker’s Hong Kong saleon September 24th, where they made $4.61 million with premium (92% sold) in a sale that did not reach its pre-sale low estimate. However, the top lots exceeded expectation, with a case of 1996 Jayer Cros Parantoux selling for over $108,000 with premium, and good prices also achieved for verticals of Latour and Mouton.

See details of each sale under Rare Wine Market tab here

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