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Bordeaux returns to fore at US wine auctions

Auctions by Christie's and Hart Davis Hart in the US show signs of improved interest in Bordeaux, but sale prices suggest buyers are wary of overspending.

Lafite Rothschild 1982 was top lot at Christie’s

A first spring auction for Christie’s in New York yesterday (24 March) fetched $1.3m, slightly under the firm’s pre-sale high estimate of $1.4m in takings.

In Chicago, Hart Davis Hart‘s (HDH) auction last weekend fared slightly better overall, fetching $5.1m against a pre-sale high estimate of $4.9m. HDH saw 100% of its lots sold, while the figure for Christie’s was 98%.

At Christie’s, mature Bordeaux made up seven of the top 10 lots sold by value, adding to evidence of consuming eschewing more recent Left Bank vintages in favour of relatively good deals on wines that are ready for drinking.

But, several lots at auction did not top their pre-sale high estimates, indicating a degree of conservatism among buyers.

The top lot, a dozen bottles of Lafite Rothschild 1982, sold for $35,525 to a UK trade buyer – around $2,500 short of its pre-sale high estimate. A further six bottles of the same wine from the same vintage sold for $15,925 on a high estimate of $19,000, and 12 bottles of Latour 1982 fetched $13,475 on a high estimate of $18,000.

HDH in Chicago showed that pockets of interest in more recent vintages of Bordeaux does exist.
Around half of the 2009 vintage lots at HDH topped their pre-sale high estimates, it said, including 15 cases of La Mission Haut-Brion that sold for $147,583 versus a high estimate of $135,000.

At a third auction, in California, Heritage achieved just over $4.1m in sales. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti dominated the top lots, with a DRC Richebourg, Vieux Cepages 1934 fetching $34.160.

Prior to the auction, Heritage’s director of fine wine, Frank Martell, told Decanter.com that a ‘semblance of normalcy’ has returned to the market, which is better for stability.

‘I am extremely enthused to see a return to proportion among the great labels,’ he said.

‘We are seeing a real resurgence in the US, particularly in the middle market which is typically the barometer for all things auctionable.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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