Collectors' thirst for Burgundy in 2013 was not enough to prevent lower prices for Bordeaux causing a drop in Christie’s wine auction sales for the year.
Christie’s said total wine auction sales reached £48m (US$75.5m) in 2013, which is down by nearly 16% on 2012 in sterling currency terms, when sales were £57m.
The result was enough for Christie’s to retain its position as the world’s top auction house by value sales, ahead of Acker Merrall & Condit and Sotheby’s, which also saw overall sales decline.
However, the figures emphasise the ongoing importance of Bordeaux to fine wine auctions.
‘We sold more volume in 2013, but even though we sold more wine, net value was down due to Bordeaux prices,’ David Elswood, Christie’s international director of wine, told decanter.com.
Towards the end of 2012, he added, ‘prices came to a shuddering halt, and actually began dropping throughout 2013’.
This offset strong Burgundy sales in 2013, which included a 12-bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) fetching HK3.67m (US$476,405) in Hong Kong, but which grew off a much lower volume base.
Christie’s global rival Sotheby’s faced a similar problem in 2013, with total auction sales down by 10% for the year, to $57.9m, despite DRC contributing $7.2m. The New York-based auction house only reported sales in US dollars.
The hope in 2014 is that prices have fallen sufficiently to tempt more buyers seeking mature vintages of Bordeaux that are ready to drink.
Mature Bordeaux helped Sotheby’s to sales of HK$29.4m in its inaugural Hong Kong auction of the year, versus a top estimate of HK$25m.
Written by Chris Mercer