Asia-based buyers showed no sign of losing their taste for top Burgundy at the spring Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Henri Jayer wines attracted high prices.
Suggestions that Burgundy’s most renowned wine labels, and particularly DRC, may have risen to unsustainable heights continue to prove unfounded for the time being.
At the Sotheby’s spring wine auction in Hong Kong over the weekend, six bottles of Romanee-Conti 1990 fetched almost HK$1.35m (US$173,000), making it the most expensive wine lot sold by Sotheby’s anywhere so far this year. The lot’s high estimate was HK$1m.
Although there continued to be signs that Bordeaux is working its way back into buyers’ good books, it was top end Burgundy that really shone in the Sotheby’s sale.
A six-litre methuselah of Romanee-Conti 1979 sold for HK$673,750 versus a high estimate of HK$500,000. Beyond DRC, five bottles of Henri Jayer’s Richebourg 1983 sold for HK$588,000 on a high estimate of HK$360,000.
A three-magnum haul of Jayer Vosne Romanee, Cros Parantoux 1982 more than doubled its high estimate of HK$200,000, fetching HK$490,000. All the lots were sold to private buyers in Asia.
Many of the lots that beat their high estimates in the two-day sale came from the cellar of ex-US Ambassador Ronald Weiser.
Sotheby’s said the Weiser cellar wines were 100% sold and fetched around HK$17m, beating the pre-sale high estimate by 30%.
‘The superb provenance, quality and rarity created extraordinary demand,’ said Jamie Ritchie, president of Sotheby’s wine in Asia and the Americas.
Alongside Burgundy, Ritchie highlighted a 57-bottle vertical of Mouton Rothschild from 1918 to 1966, which was the second best-selling lot at HK$796,250, versus a high estimate of HK$550,000.
The third best-selling lot was a dozen-bottle haul of Le Pin 1990, which fetched HK$674,000 versus a high estimate of HK$500,000.
However, the Weiser cellar results were not enough for the auction house to beat its top estimate of HK$100.7m for sales from the entire auction. Overall sales from the weekend reached HK$99.5m, with 37% of lots beating their pre-auction high estimate.
Alongside the wine sale, Sotheby’s also sold a rare porcelain cup dating from China’s Ming Dynasty for HK$281m (US$36m).
Nicknamed the ‘chicken cup’ due to the rooster and hen on its design, some have speculated the cup could have been used for wine, but there appears to be little evidence to support this.
Written by Chris Mercer