The final sale of fine wine for the year by Christie’s in London maintained the trend begun this Autumn of prices comfortably exceeding their estimates. A whopping £1.174 million was raised by the auction house on December 8th, with nearly all of the 250 or so lots surpassing their lower estimate and a convincing majority beating their higher one. That is yet more encouraging news for investors in fine wine in 2016, a year in which the Liv-ex 100 index has gone up every single month so far.
Three lots of some great, old, classics brought in more than a third of the auction total. A case of both Cheval Blanc 1947 and Domaine Romanée-Conti 1988, netted £152,750 while six bottles of Mouton Rothschild 1945 (one of the great post-war vintages) was not far behind with £146,875. All prices quoted include buyer’s premium of 17.5%. Even when you knock that off, the DRC, in particular, was way ahead of the estimate spread of £110-120,000.
Some more recent great vintages of first growths and other prime investment wines sold very well indeed. Two bottles of DRC, La Tache 2005 cost £4,348 (estimate £2400-3600); three magnums of Lafite 2010 were bought for £3,525 (est £2200-2800); a case of Angelus 2009 went for £3,290 (est £2400-3000); a Pavie half-case 2005 made £1,762 (est £1100-1400); six bottles of Latour 2005 fetched £4,112 (est £2499-3000), while a half-case of Mouton 2005 smashed its estimate of £1700-2200 when it was bought for £3,760. By comparison, a less good vintage like 2011 brought in £1,998 for three magnums of Lafite (estimate £1600-2000). Going further back to a great year like 1982, a case of Cheval Blanc raised £7,638 (est £5500-6500).
Some vintage Champagne also showed strongly, with six bottles of Louis Roederer’s Cristal 1998 grossing £1,998 (much more than the estimate of £700-800). A half-case of Dom Perignan 1990 also fared well, selling for £1,292 (est £600-800). Away from France, the Super Tuscans were attracting plenty of interest with single cases of Sassicaia 1996 going for £1,880 (est £1200-1600) and of Ornellaia 1998 for £1,645 (est £1100-1400). A half-case of Ridge Montebello 2007 did California proud by comfortably exceeding its estimate of £450-550 when it was acquired for £764.
Meanwhile, Sotheby’s also eased past estimates in a sale of a so-called ‘immaculate collection’ at their New Bond Street HQ at the very end of November. A sum of £897,300 was raised with 11 bottles of DRC 1990 making £28,200. A half-case Le Pin 2010 fetched £15,275.
“Great châteaux from outstanding vintages including 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 were fiercely fought over,” Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s Wine, Europe, said. “Elsewhere, red Burgundy from Domaine de Romanée Conti, Armand Rousseau, Dugat-Py, and de Vogüé was in high demand, while collectors pursued white Burgundy from Domaine Leflaive and other growers with equal passion. We saw buyers from the UK, Continental Europe and the Americas, as well as Asia.”
Sotheby’s final London sale of 2016, which will feature Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Port, is Thursday 14 December, a day after Hart Davis Hart’s major auction in Chicago finishes. We will keep a close eye on those, with a view to assessing any trends as the year comes to a close.