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‘Ultimate’ Champagne auction hits €1.35m in sales at Sotheby’s 

Rare magnums of Dom Pérignon, Salon and Krug have helped to drive strong bidding in a Sotheby's Paris auction of top Champagnes from the cellar of collector Pierre Chen, while a separate sale by Baghera/wines in Bordeaux has taken place at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou.

Billed as ‘The Ultimate Champagnes’ auction, the Sotheby’s event in Paris on 20 June featured rare wines and vintages of famous labels, such as Krug, Dom Pérignon, Salon and Louis Roederer (Cristal), among others.

Total auction sales reached €1.35m (US$1.45m), said Sotheby’s, adding that more than 50% of lots sold above their pre-sale high estimates. Final prices include the buyer’s premium, but Sotheby’s noted that many lots exceeded their pre-sale high estimates by ‘a wide margin’. 

It is thought to be the first Champagne-only auction, according to Sotheby’s, and is part of ‘The Epicurean’s Atlas’ series of sales – representing 25,000 bottles of wine from the cellar of collector Pierre Chen. 

George Lacey, head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, said, ‘The results we saw today, with more than half of the lots sold achieving prices above their high estimates and particularly strong bidding from clients in Southeast Asia and Continental Europe, are testament to the extraordinary quality and depth of Pierre Chen’s cellar, and the growing appreciation for this category amongst collectors worldwide.’

Top 10 lots in the Sotheby’s ‘Ultimate Champagnes’ auction:

  • Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs 1990 | 3 Magnums | Sold for €25,000 ($26,850) | Estimate: €9,500-13,000 (Lot 17)
  • Dom Pérignon, P3 1966 | 1 Magnum | Sold for €23,750 | Estimate: €7,500-9,500 (Lot 157)
  • Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 3 Magnums | Sold for €22,500 | Estimate: €10,000-13,000 (Lot 19)
  • Krug Collection 1985 | 6 Magnums | Sold for €21,250 | Estimate: €11,000-14,000) (Lot 82)
  • Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs 1983 | 3 Magnums | Sold for €21,250 | Estimate: €9,000-12,000 (Lot 21)
  • Dom Pérignon, P3 1982 | 6 bottles | Sold for €20,000 | Estimate: €15,000-20,000 (Lot 152)
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé, P3 1988 | 3 Magnums | Sold for €18,750 | Estimate: €14,000-18,000 (Lot 203)
  • Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs 1996 | 12 bottles | Sold for €17,500 | Estimate: €12,000-15,000 (Lot 15)
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé, P3 1988 | 3 Magnums | Sold for €17,500 | Estimate: €14,000-18,000 (Lot 202)
  • Krug, Clos d’Ambonnay 1996 | 6 bottles | Sold for €16,250 | Estimate: €13,000-18,000 (Lot 27)

Source: Sotheby’s. ‘Sold for’ prices include buyer’s premium. 

Other lots included a single magnum of Cristal 1961, one of the oldest wines in the sale, which sold for €2,250 (high estimate: €1,800).

Twelve bottles of Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs from the highly regarded 1996 vintage sold for €6,875 (high e: €4,500).

Next up, Sotheby’s will host an auction of Pierre Chen’s Burgundy wines in Beaune on 2 July.  

A Champagne market transformed 

Fine wine prices have dipped to various degrees in the past 12 to 18 months, according to several indicators. 

Liv-ex, a global marketplace for the trade that tracks prices of collectible wines, said its Champagne 50 index fell by nearly 14% in value in the 12 months to 31 May 2024.

It was, however, still up by almost 47% over five years, highlighting how Champagne has also become more prominent on the market.

Sotheby’s said, ‘From 2022 to 2023, we saw a three-fold increase in the value and volume of Champagne sold in our auctions, with Champagne sales growing from US$1.9m to US$5.3m in one year, and a Champagne producer appearing in the top 10 producers sold at auction by value for the first time (Krug, in 6th place with US$2m of sales).’

There have been widespread reports of quieter trading across the secondary market for fine wine, but Sotheby’s also reported record wine and spirits auction sales of $159m in 2023.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou auction

Separately, auction house Baghera/wines hosted a sale from the cellars of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou in Bordeaux on Sunday 23 June.

Total sales reached €1.85m as buyers took advantage of an opportunity to acquire rare vintages direct from the St-Julien-based second growth. Overall, 476 lots sold, out of 603 lots on sale, said the auction house.

A single magnum of Ducru-Beaucaillou 1945 sold for €21,960, versus a pre-sale high estimate of €8,000, said the auction house.

The most expensive lot sold was a 225-litre barrel of Ducru-Beaucaillou 2022, which fetched €54,900 (estimate: €45,000 to €90,000).

Virginie Maison, auctioneer for Baghera/ wines France, and Julie Carpentier, co-founder of Baghera/ wines, said: ‘Following the “Dear Pebbles” sale on 23 June 2024, held in the cellars of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, we would like to express our deep gratitude to [estate owner / resident] Bruno-Eugène Borie for his unfailing trust. The auction highlighted the exceptional vintages of Ducru-Beaucaillou, celebrating 300 years of this prestigious estate.’ 

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