UK auctions: 'Unstoppable' clarets

UK auctions: 'Unstoppable' clarets News Wine News
  • Thursday 12 April 2001

Sotheby's sale in London (19 July) was dominated by clarets from 1978 to 1997.

The auction proved to be a good price barometer for the mature vintages of the 1980s and younger 1990s. According to Serena Sutcliffe MW, the head of the wine department, 'claret was unstoppable...including premium. More than half the lots sold above the high estimate.'

From the 'banker's' vintage of 1982, both Lynch-Bages and Talbot exceeded the £1,000 (US$1600) mark, the former reaching £1,045 (US$1,670), the latter £1,012 (US$1,620), while fifth growth Grand-Puy-Lacoste, much-fancied in the vintage, fetched £825 (US$1,320).

'Superseconds' Leoville-Las-Cases and Palmer also exceeded £1,000 (US$1,600) with Las-Cases achieving a price of £1,012 (US$1,620) in the 1986 vintage and Palmer a new high of £1,110 (US$1,780) for its 1989.

Against a background of lesser vintages in the decade of the 1990s, the two most-fancied Bordeaux vintages 1990 and 1996 showed distinct signs of hardening.

The 1990s sold mostly at or over the high end of the estimate with particularly good results for Las-Cases (£1,540 / US$2,460), Montrose (£1,430 / US$2,290) and Lynch Bages (£935 / US$1,500).

The 1996s are also becoming firm with particularly impressive results for Lynch-Bages (£396 / US$635), Gruaud-Larose (£374 / US$600) and Pichon-Longueville (£330 / US$530), none of which was expected to exceed £280 (US$450).

The highest price achieved at the sale was the £8,250 (US$12,330), paid for 12 bottles of Quinta do Noval Nacional port from the 1963 vintage. This, and the £3,410 (US$5,100) paid for a case of the 1990 Cheval Blanc, both went to a South American buyer.

In total, the auction netted £405,262 (US$605,682) with 88.61 per cent of lots sold.

picture courtesy of Sotheby's

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