The Chinese market is maturing at a faster rate than the US market for fine wine did in the 1980s, auctioneer Richard Brierley says.
Burgundy: ‘test depth of market’
Brierley, auctioneer for the new joint venture of California-based Spectrum Wine Auctions and London luxury drinks merchant Vanquish, is in Hong Kong for a Spectrum auction this weekend.
The auction will carry the usual lots of top Bordeaux but it is also strong in Burgundy, with 200 lots of Domaine de la Romanee Conti including assortments of 1990s as well as rare lots of 1972s and 1937s, Brierley said.
‘It will be a test of how deep the Burgundy trend we have seen over the last few months is,’ he added.
At the same time, he said, Bordeaux ‘is an unknown quantity’, though what is certain is that the taste for ultra-expensive first growths and their second wines has weakened.
Estimates have been revised downwards in light of the spate of recent Hong Kong auctions at which Lafite and other top Bordeaux sold for below their low estimates.
A case of Lafite 1982 fetched US$33,464.72 against a low estimate of over US$40,000 at an Acker Merrall and Condit auction earlier this month.
‘There is still demand for Lafite, but at a lower price – and people are realising that Carruades de Lafite [the second wine of the property] is just not worth £350, and there are many more exciting wines delivering terroir and quality at much better value. Pavillon Rouge [the second wine of Margaux] has also dropped off.’
Brierley namechecked Montrose, Angelus, Pichon Baron and other right and left bank wines as examples.
‘The market is maturing. It’s like the US was in the 1980s and 90s but here they are doing it in half the time. Learning and study is so ingrained in Chinese culture.’
Brierley also said the market was widening, with ‘new connoisseurs’ coming into the auction rooms as well as the super-wealthy.
He said he had recently met a group of ‘young media guys in their 30s’ who were ‘as passionate to learn about Spain and Tuscany as Bordeaux and Burgundy’, and owned and drank wine far more widely than the traditional regions.
Spectrum’s Winter 2011 Auction takes place at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong, 3 and 4 December 2011.
Written by Adam Lechmere