UK auction roundup

Lucky owners of select 1990s Coche-Dury vintages must have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief last week as their prices rocketed at a Sotheby's auction.

Many of the white burgundies fetched colossal amounts, with some lots exceeding low estimates by over seven times.

Twelve bottles of 1992 Corton Charlemagne sold for £30,800 (US$43,430) against an estimate of £4,000-5,000 (US$5,640-7,050). Then, a dozen bottles of 1997 Corton Charlemagne realised £25,300 (US$35,670) against a £2,600-3,800 (US$3,670 – £5,360) estimate, while a further dozen bottles of the 1995 Corton Charlemagne sold for £14,850 (US$20,950).

With true prescience, the catalogue blurb had accurately described the Coche-Dury collection as ‘the proverbial gold dust’ and sure enough, the Midas touch was duly applied with prices to make even the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti go green.

Taking the six top ten places at Sotheby’s sale of Fine and Rare Wines, Spirits and Vintage Ports on London on 21 November, Coche-Dury beat Pétrus into seventh slot with 85 lots selling well above estimate for £354,739 (US$504,581). All in all, the sale realised a total of £1,062,528 (US$1,499,264).

According to Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of the international wine department, the results put Coche-Dury into the Burgundian super-league, ‘confirming this Burgundian’s cult status in spectacular fashion’.

In another new development in the UK auction scene, the previous week had seen the first auction to be held at Christie’s in London devoted to the best wines of the Napa Valley. The best price for a single bottle was the astonishing £3,189 (US$4,500) paid for a bottle of the 1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon.

Demand for large format bottles and vertical collections was strong. A double-magnum of 1996 Robert Mondavi 30th anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon fetched £3,520 (£4,965), as did a six vintage (1992 – 1997) vertical of Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon. A double magnum of 1997 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red reached £3515 (US$4,960). Seventy six percent of lots sold by value with a total of £376,453 (US$546,980) realised.

Auction diary dates and contact information

Written by Anthony Rose in London29 November 2001