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Sotheby’s to launch wine auctions in France

Sotheby’s has said it plans to begin hosting regular wine and spirits auctions in Bordeaux and Burgundy, potentially giving collectors worldwide more opportunities to buy rare bottles.

Sotheby’s said France will be its fourth ‘international hub’ for wine and spirits auctions, alongside New York, London and Hong Kong.

Regular auctions will be hosted from offices in Bordeaux and Beaune in Burgundy, said the group, which has already taken over responsibility for the annual Hospices de Beaune sale.

It said the move comes amid strong global demand from collectors, with Sotheby’s’ wine and spirits auction sales reaching $58m (£42.4m) in the first half of 2021. Sales were $92m for the whole of 2020.

Several other auction houses have reported good demand from fine wine and rare spirits lovers this year.

Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s wine, said the move into France is a key initiative.

‘We anticipate France becoming one of our most important markets, providing sellers in Continental Europe with the greatest access to the global market, and buyers from all around the world will have more ability to buy rare bottles,’ he said.

‘More than 85% of the value of the wines Sotheby’s sells come from France, so this is long overdue.’

Burgundy wines accounted for 41% of Sotheby’s wine and spirits sales across auction and retail in 2020, while Bordeaux made up 26%, according to the group’s 2020 market report.

Sotheby’s has appointed Amayès Aouli as head of auction sales for Continental Europe, and to oversee the growth of its France operations. A passionate wine collector, Aouli previously spent 10 years as executive director at JP Morgan Asset Management in France.

Separately, Sotheby’s announced that Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW will work with the team as a consultant for the 161st Hospices de Beaune auction on 21 November.

The group said it planned to host its inaugural spirits auction from France in December. After that, ‘plans are in place for a full roster of wine and spirits sales in 2022, to be announced in due course’, it said.

Last week, Sotheby’s said it would auction wines sourced direct from the cellars of Bordeaux’s Châteaux Canon and Rauzan-Ségla, both owned by Chanel, at a London-based sale in October.

The auction will feature vintages dating back to 1917, and bottle sizes will range from 75cl to ‘melchior’ – 18 litres.

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