Zachys demonstrated selling ability at its recent sale that seemed to make it overnight America's second most powerful wine-auction house.

It grossed $2,258,462, selling 96.05% percent of its consignments at the sale on 6-7 December. This virtually duplicated the 96.3% sales rate achieved at its first auction as an independent at the end of October. It is now just behind Sotheby’s/Aulden Cellars in terms of sales.

Of the 24 major wine auctions held in America, London and Paris since the season began in September, Zachys’ two auctions have topped the lot. The next best sales rate of 90% was achieved by Christie’s/NYWines on 5 September.

Internationally, the sale represents the fifth-highest gross of the season, behind Zachys’ own second-highest sum of $3,647,075. Sotheby’s two auctions of the season have each surpassed $3m.

Zachys sold 1,409 lots of the 1,467 offered, as against a larger catalogue in its introductory auction, when 1,510 of 1,568 lots found buyers.

Many wondered whether Zachys, a fine-wine emporium in Scarsdale, in suburban Westchester County, could sustain the momentum of the first sale. Now it’s likely that Zachys president Jeff Zacharia will be inundated with requests for cellar valuations .

Zacharia said that half the lots were sold to bidders in the room, at Daniel, a four-star restaurant abutting fashionable Park Avenue. On 7 December, the room was nearly full much of the day, with bidders leisurely eating an elegant $50 buffet lunch as Champagne was liberally poured and waiters uncorked bottles of red. Ursula Hermacinski, the powerhouse auctioneer, periodically urged buyers to pop corks.

As usual, benchmark Pétrus dominated the topmost earnings, with prices falling between the high and low estimates. A rare Nebuchadnezzar (15-liter bottle) of 1990 Cheval Blanc fetched $20,300, above the $15,000 high estimate. Three bottles of 1990 Romanée-Conti brought $12,180, above the $9,000 estimate.

The sale featured many ready-to-drink vintages, which attracted strong prices. Port and large-format bottles sold well. Bargains, among them 1970 Bordeaux, Californians and Loire bottlings, were scattered throughout.

Zachys’ next sale is 7-8 February, with two more scheduled through springtime.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York10 December 2002