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Collectors’ news

Liquid gold

Chateau d’Yquem will be the next big winner for the wine investment market, predicts Peter lunzer, CEO of lunzer wine investments. ‘Over the next three years, it could easily outperform lafite in terms of price appreciation.’

Lunzer and others are backing Yquem because China has recently lifted its ban on sweet wines such as Sauternes which contain more than 250mg/l of sulphur.

Many believe the brand-conscious Chinese market will latch onto Yquem and push its prices through the roof.

So far, though, the jury remains out. Since the announcement was made at the end of 2010, Yquem’s prices have not risen on the back of Chinese demand. Nevertheless, merchants such as Chad Delaney of Justerini & Brooks believes there is anecdotal evidence of a groundswell of interest from Chinese customers.

Others argue that this is being converted into sales across the region. Merchant Bordeaux index said that for the first time it sold more than 150 bottles of Yquem to China in a single month.

Last year, Christie’s also sold its ‘liquid Gold Collection’ of 128 Yquem vintages for more than US$1m.

According to Gary Boom of Bordeaux index, ‘our network of contacts are telling us that Yquem has suddenly become highly fashionable. it has become the drink of choice – much in the way that Dom Pérignon Rosé was in Japan 15 to 20 years ago.

’Not everyone is convinced sales of Sauternes will take off despite the long-standing popularity in the market of Canadian ice wine. ‘So far, interest in the top wines is limited,’ said Don St Pierre Jnr of ASC Fine wines in Shanghai. ‘if top Sauternes want success in China, they need to build their brand.’

LVMH-owned Yquem is best placed to do this. last year, Yquem’s director Pierre lurton told Decanter.com that lVmh already ‘has a good business network in place in China’ and was making plans to market the wine there.

According to Delaney, Yquem has another advantage with its positive phonetic translation. in mandarin, ‘Yquem’ sounds like the phrase ‘drop of gold’.

The colour gold is also highly auspicious in Chinese culture. A number of investment companies have been increasing their holdings of Yquem in anticipation of future price rises. ‘i expect the price of the good vintages to double over the next few years,’ said lunzer.

Roberson slashes price of fine wine by the bottle

West London wine merchant Roberson has cut prices of all single bottles of fine wines costing more than £100. Collectors can now buy rare wine by the bottle at the cheaper wholesale price.

Joe Gilmour, Roberson’s general manager, said one reason for the move was that customers had become more ‘savvy’ about comparing prices between retailers.

‘It’s not just people using Wine-searcher.com at home – customers are coming into the shop with their iPads and iPhones, to compare our prices. Now there’s a real incentive for people to come back to our shop rather than buying online,’ he said.

The new pricing policy means, for example, that a duty-paid bottle of Mouton Rothschild 2006 falls from £1,000 to £675, while Haut-Brion 1989 has come down from £1,800 to £1,460.

Gilmour says Roberson is now ‘one of London’s most competitive sources of fine wine by the bottle, with the biggest range, at more than 800’

Written by John Stimpfig

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