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Champagne prices on the rise at major auction firms

Fierce bidding for old and rare Champagne in the UK and US over the past fortnight has further cemented the category's place on the global auction scene.

Image: Bonhams

Bonhams set a high standard on 24 October by selling a rare, 1914 vintage Pol Roger for £5,640 in London. It had estimated the 100-year-old vintage, which was harvested as the first battles of the First World War shook the ground, would sell for a maximum £4,000.

Richard Juhlin, the Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 regional chair for Champagne, told Decanter.com that drinking 1914 Pol Roger at the estate alongside Christian Pol-Roger himself was ‘the greatest wine experience of my life’.

He described the wine as ‘remarkably large [with a] complex nose with loads of sweets, honey, rum, chocolate, coffee, and treacle’. He recommended drinking it with duck liver.

Juhlin is far from alone in enjoying the taste of older Champagne vintages, according to Bonhams’ auction sales results.

‘With three other Champagne lots [besides 1914] in our top ten, I think it highlights that we have developed a market for mature vintage Champagne,’ said Bonhams’ senior international director for wine, Richard Harvey MW.

Bonhams sold two six-litre methuselahs of Louis Roederer Cristal 1990 for £4,700 each, and also sold six magnums of Dom Perignon Rose 1978 for the same price.

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Strong bidding for Champagne in auctions elsewhere in the past two weeks emphasised the extent to which the world’s best-known sparkling wine has seduced buyers in 2014, even if the top Burgundy estates have dominated headlines.

Christie’s sold a single bottle of Krug Collection 1961 in London for £3,525, more than double its pre-sale high estimate of £1,500. Against the same estimate, it also sold a magnum of Krug 1966 for $4,113.

In the US, auction house Wally’s said bidders ‘clamoured’ for Champagnes at its October auction.

Among the lots it highlighted were six bottles of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1982, which fetched $3,840 on a pre-sale high estimate of $2,800. A lot of 10 bottles of Dom Perignon 1982 sold for $4,560 on a pre-sale high estimate of $3,600.

Written by Chris Mercer

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