Sales of six-litre methuselahs helped to propel the vaunted Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) to the head of Sotheby’s’ list of top 10 wine and spirits producers by sales in 2020.
It’s the eighth consecutive year that DRC has topped the rankings.
Sotheby’s sold $19.4m of the famous Burgundy producer’s wines last year, it said in its latest annual market report.
The group’s total wine and spirits auction sales fell in 2020, coming in at $92m versus a record-breaking $118m in 2019.
Yet the 2020 total was also the third highest in the past eight years. Sotheby’s and other auction houses have continued to report relatively strong demand from buyers over the past year or so, accompanied by a more rapid transition to online sales.
The list below shows Sotheby’s’ top 10 wine and spirits producers in terms of total sales in US dollars and as a percentage share of auction and retail sales.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: $19.4m / 20%
The Macallan (Scotch whisky): $6.4m / 7%
Petrus: $4.2m / 4%
The Dalmore (Scotch whisky): $3.4m / 4%
Jean-Louis Chave: $3.1m / 3%
Henri Jayer: $3m / 3%
Mouton Rothschild: $2.8m / 3%
Lafite Rothschild: $2.8m / 3%
Domaine Leroy: $2.1m / 3%
Haut-Brion: $2.1m / 2%
A particular highlight of the new Sotheby’s report is the fast-paced rise of spirits, led by rare whiskies.
Spirits accounted for 19% of the group’s auction and retail sales last year, having been at zero in 2015, 4% in 2018 and 13% in 2019.
When looking at the best-selling auction lots, DRC commands such lofty prices that it has its own category in the Sotheby’s report.
The firm’s most expensive DRC lot at auction last year was a 12-bottle cache of Romanée-Conti from the renowned 1990 vintage. It fetched $483,413 in Hong Kong.
Eight of the top 10 DRC wines sold by Sotheby’s at auction last year constituted a single, six-litre methuselah of Romanée-Conti. The priciest were for Romanée-Conti 1999, which fetched $322,275 in Hong Kong, and 2005, which sold for $297,600 in New York.
The best non-DRC Burgundy lot of 2020 was a magnum of Henri Jayer, Richebourg 1985, which fetched $241,706 in Hong Kong.
Sotheby’s’ top Bordeaux lot of 2020 was a 12-bottle case of Château Cheval Blanc 1947, which sold for $290,182.