Christie’s Burgundy Bonanza launches London Wine Season

While investors wait for the 2015 primeur tastings next month and to see what prices the Bordelais will spring on us, don’t forget Burgundy. The Bordeaux PR machine would love us to, but if the auction at Christie’s last week is anything to go by, we do so at our peril. “Spectacular prices” for rare cases of fine Burgundy were paid, according to the auction house’s head of London fine wine department, Chris Munro.

Naturally enough, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) led the way, a case of 1988 fetching a massive £111,625, more than £9,000 per bottle. Three bottles of DRC’s 1985 vintage sold for just over £7,000 apiece (£21,150), while single bottles of both the 2011 and 2012 vintages also went for £7,050 each. That’s all very well, I can hear readers say, but how to get hold of DRC in the first place? But if you can…..

Less difficult red Burgundies to buy also did very well. Echezeaux 1995 from Henri and Georges Jayer attracted a bid of £25,850, while some Chambertin 1993 from Armand Rousseau parted company for £17,625. “White Burgundy also starred,” according to Munro, with a full case of Montrachet 2005 from Domaine Leflaive going for £47,000.

Munro described last Thursday’s auction, which realised £1.3m in total, as “a tremendous start to the London wine season,” company-speak for plenty of interest in a global market-place prepared to pay good money. A quarter of the lots were sold to online bidders from the United States, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Denmark. A good healthy spread indeed.

Bordeaux was also strongly represented at the auction, with prices more or less hitting Liv-ex figures. A case of Mouton-Rothschild 1996, for example, went for £3,408, slightly less than currently quoted. Some 1990 Cos d’Estournel, the second-growth, however, sold for 6% more (£1,645 against £1541). Two cases of third-growth Palmer (one from 2009 and one from 2010) each fetched £1,998 (the former about £100 more than on Liv-ex and the latter some £250 less). Swings and roundabouts in other words.

Some old port likewise came under the hammer, with a bottle of 1847 Ferreira (from the family reserves) selling for a princely £5,875. A case of Warre from the legendary 1963 vintage was bought for £1,293, decent value, while three bottles of Quinta do Noval Nacional ’63 fetched a whopping £7,285. A case of the 1970 from the same house only made £588, underlining the importance of vintage.