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Christie’s reports record online auction interest

An unprecedented number of people have followed the most recent online sale, with bidders showing particular interest in older vintages of top Bordeaux and California wines, Christie's has said.

Bidders from 31 countries across five continents participated in the Christie’s Wine & Spirits Online auction, based out of New York, which ran for two weeks from 24 March.

It marked one of the group’s largest online sales to date, with more than 800 lots offered.

Christie’s also highlighted much greater interest than would normally be seen for online sales, with auction watchers spanning 118 countries.

Chris Munro, head of wine at Christie’s Americas, said: ‘This sale received an unprecedented number of unique visitors, over 20% above the average for online wine sales, and from across the world.’

The sale raised $1,116,075 (£899,031.89), and was 84% sold by lot and 91% sold by value.

There was strong interest in older vintages from Bordeaux and California.

Top lots included a 12-bottle case of Petrus 1990, which fetched $40,000 (£32,172), while a six-magnum lot of the 1985 vintage sold for $18,750 (£15,074).

A 12-bottle cache of Château Lafite Rothschild 2002, in its original wooden box, sold for $7,500 (£6,028), while a 12-bottle lot of the first growth’s prized 2005 vintage sold for $6,875 (£5,525).

For California,  a selection of Harlan estate wines in 75cl bottles and magnums was 100% sold, including a six-bottle lot of the 2001 vintage, which sold for $4,375 (£3,511).

Strong sales were also recorded for Promontory, Opus One, Insignia, Dominus, Bond, Araujo, Spottswoode and Ridge  – the latter seeing a 12-bottle lot of Monte Belle Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 fetch $6,875 (£5,525).

Rare whiskies again proved their staying power at auction. A bottle of Macallan 31 Year Old 1970 in its original wooden case sold for $13,750 (£11,053), while a bottle of the Red Ribbon 1938 Speyside sold for $11,250 (£9,043).

Speaking of the sale Munro said: ‘A very good result, and given the current circumstances, it is an excellent result showing the strength of detailed curation and strong market knowledge’.

Other auction houses have also seen online success. Acker Merrell & Condit has sold approximately US$7 million of fine and rare wine in Hong Kong and New York through two auctions held ‘live online’ over the past two weekends, for example.

John Kapon, chairman of Acker Merrall & Condit, told Decanter.com: ‘The fine wine market is quite healthy and amazingly resilient at the moment. People still want their wine! It has thankfully been business as usual for us, and we are seeing new lists daily.’

Sotheby’s has announced it is running two online wine and spirits auctions this month, with more than 300 lots. One of the sales, which is open now and runs until 19 April, is centred on a 30-bottle collection of Scotch whisky from the sought-after Macallan Fine & Rare series, spanning five decades.

Looking to the future, Munro said, ‘As more people are homebound, we do expect to see an increase in consumption. Rather than going out, people are making more meals in their homes and likely going into their cellars to find the appropriate pairing.

‘Wine is meant to be enjoyed so if our category can help to share joy in moments of uncertainty, we are quite happy to oblige. And, it’s hard to speculate how this will affect future buying, but I do think there will be a renewed curiosity and interest in wine that could lead to collecting.’

See also: 

US wine sales jump but restaurant trade suffers

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