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Sotheby’s Cheval Blanc ex-cellar auction sells out

Sotheby's has sold all lots of Cheval Blanc wines offered direct from the Bordeaux chateau's cellars in a Hong Kong auction designed to commemorate China's year of the horse.

A 15-litre ‘nebuchadnezzar’ bottle of Cheval Blanc 1998 was top lot in the auction. An anonymous Asia-based buyer paid HK$269,500 (US$34,500) for the lot, more than two thirds its pre-sale high estimate.

Total sales in the Cheval Blanc section of the auction reached HK$11.4m versus a pre-sale high estimate of HK$9.5m. All the Cheval Blanc ex-cellar lots were large format bottles.

Cheval Blanc translates literally to ‘white horse’ and Sotheby’s deliberately named its auction a ‘celebration of the year of the horse’ in order to woo Chinese bidders.

That tactic, together with the ex-cellar provenance of the wines, may have helped push sales higher. More broadly, the auction also suggests there is still consumer interest in top wines if the offer is right – despite a downbeat assessment of the regional market among many merchants and importers at the Vinexpo Asia Pacific trade fair in Hong Kong this week.

Sotheby’s also sold all 600 wine lots offered across the entire auction, with Asia-based buyers accounted for many of the highest-priced lots.

However, Sotheby’s also provided fresh evidence that buyers remain wary of overpaying for more recent Bordeaux vintages. Auction houses might have to adjust their price estimates accordingly.

Sotheby’s sold an 18-litre melchior of Cheval Blanc 2005 to an Asia-based buyer for HK$196,000, making it the joint second-best lot in the auction, but the pre-sale high estimate was HK$220,000.

A nebuchadnezzar of Cheval Blanc 2010 also fetched 196,000, but against a high estimate of HK$240,000.
Outside the Cheval Blanc part of the of the sale, a six-litre imperiale of Petrus 2005 sold for HK$196,000, against a high estimate of HK$200,000.

Twelve bottles of Petrus 2004 overshot the pre-sale high estimate by HK$50,000, fetching HK$171,500, perhaps also reflecting a desire among Asian buyers for vintages that are considered ready to drink.

Written by Chris Mercer

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