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Top US auction house bets on Bordeaux rebound

Chicago's Hart Davis Hart will hold its first Bordeaux-only auction at the end of this month, in what could prove a key test for signs of improved buyer confidence in 2014.

97 lots of Petrus 1982 are being auctioned

Hart Davis Hart (HDH) said it expected to sell up to $5.5m of top Bordeaux wines from around 100 chateaux at the auction, to be held over 31 October and 1 November.

It will include ex-cellar wines from Cheval Blanc, Montrose and Pichon Lalande, as well as 33 lots of Petrus spanning 21 vintages. Altogether, 44 vintages will be represented, including 97 lots of the 1982 vintage and 337 lots of 2009.

The move comes in spite of Burgundy overtaking Bordeaux as HDH’s biggest selling region in the first half of 2014. All 10 of HDH’s highest-priced lots during that period were Burgundy wines, epitomising a trend that has transcended regions and arguably culminated with Sotheby’s’ record-breaking, 114-bottle lot of DRC Romanee-Conti sold in Hong Kong last week for US$1.6m.

By contrast, Bordeaux has faced one of its most trying periods in recent memory, but there is emerging evidence of a fight back that may at least bring stability after three years of near-continuous decline.

The Liv-ex 100 index, which tracks the most sought-after fine wines on the Liv-ex platform, saw its second consecutive month-on-month gain in September, albeit it rose by just 0.3%. Bordeaux Index also saw an increase in trading in September, although August was down.

At HDH, marketing manager Marc Smoler said, ‘Our auction index, which tracks 15 key Bordeaux wines, is up 3.2% [year to date],’ he told Decanter.com.

HDH said in its half-year report that ‘Bordeaux prices have stabilised and are on the rise, with the average 750ml bottle selling at auction for $350’.

Chris Adams, of New York retailer Sherry-Lehman, said the group saw ‘immense growth in the Cru Classe category in July and August, over 45% and 30% respectively versus the same months in 2013’. Momentum did slow significantly in September, however.

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