Sotheby's auction buyers lukewarm on Bordeaux 2009, 2010

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  • Friday 2 May 2014

A Sotheby's auction in London has highlighted fine wine buyers' reticence towards overpaying for top vintages of Bordeaux's critically acclaimed 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Sotheby's: The Classic Cellar from a Great American Collector

Sotheby's made close to £1.4m from its fine and rare wines auction in London this week, with some strong individual performances from certain wines, including two dozen-bottle hauls of Chateau Petrus 1982, which became joint top lots after fetching £44,650 each.

However, the auction total missed Sotheby's' top estimate of £1.6m. It also only saw 80.8% of lots sold, which is a relatively low figure in the world of high-end wine auctions.

A sister Sotheby's auction in New York a few days earlier fetched a lower total than London, around $1.4m, but saw 98% of lots sold, for example.

The source of the problem in London was magnums of Bordeaux from the highly rated, and yet also highly expensive, 2009 and 2010 vintages, according to Sotheby's.

'The market for magnums (not 75cl bottles) of very young vintages, albeit stunning vintages, is tough as, of course, they still have a long way to go to mature, and there are great preceding vintages from which people can choose,' said Serena Sutcliffe MW, global head of wine at Sotheby's.

Among the lots that failed to capture interest in the London auction was a six-magnum cache of Lafite-Rothschild 2009 in an original wooden case. It had a top estimate of £6,000, but failed to sell.

Instead, buyers continued to seek older Bordeaux vintages. Despite Burgundy's rising popularity at auctions around the world, Bordeaux constituted eight of the top ten lots sold by value at the Sotheby's London auction,

'Pétrus reigned supreme (again) at this London sale and there was also a rush on fabulous Imperials from the Bordeaux 2005 vintage,' said Sutcliffe.

Beyond Bordeaux, 'the ultra-rare Jeroboam of Hermitage La Chapelle 1978 sold for £8,460, exceeding the top estimate, driven by Asian demand for this gem', Sutcliffe added.

Asia-based buyers were particularly prominent at the top end of the auction, taking seven of the top ten lots by value.

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