The world’s biggest wine auction houses broke several world records in 2003, with cases of Chateau Latour and Chateau Mouton fetching staggering sums.

Christie’s ended the year in pole position, announcing a global sales total of £18.25m for 2003.

‘The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the Latour sale held on 22 May, which saw an immaculate variety of Latour sourced direct from the château go under the hammer for record prices, including a case of 1961 fetching a remarkable £34,098’, a press release said.

More Latour fetched huge prices in November, when Christie’s Los Angeles took US$56,400 for a case of the 1961 vintage and US$49,350 for a case of the 1929 vintage, both world auction records. In the same month in New York a case of the 1928 vintage went for US$47,000 and a case of the 1959 fetched $35,250 – another world auction record.

Richard Brierley, head of North American wine sales said, ‘Strong demand throughout the year for mature vintages from excellent provenance gave a clear signal that the fine wine auction market in North America is maturing rapidly.’

Sotheby’s, the other great London-based international wine auctioneer, said sales reached £14,59m last year.

Records were also broken, this time with six bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 going for US$70,500 in New York, and a case of the Pomerol Chateau Lafleur 1961 fetching US$73,438.

Jamie Ritchie, senior vice-president of Sotheby’s wine department said, ‘The results we have achieved for these one-owner collections are a true testament to our knowledge and expertise.’

Written by Adam Lechmere