Investor focus on fine wine Sotheby’s ‘super-auction’ with the best Bordeaux vintages since WWII

Geoffery DeanA busy auction period either side of the Atlantic culminates next week at Sotheby’s in what the New Bond Street auctioneers are unsurprisingly hailing ‘one of the finest wine cellars to be offered in London in over a decade.’ It is truly a mouth-watering selection of Bordeaux, Burgundies and Rhones from the greatest vintages going back to 1945. As such, it will be of interest to all investors, as will the prices from auctions in New York and London last week. More on them later, but first the stellar line-up for 16 & 17 December.

Bordeaux forms the majority of the 1600-lot super-auction that is expected to realize £1.9m for the single seller. “This superb collection is custom-made for wine-lovers, brimming with the best crus, vineyards, producers and vintages,” crowed Serena Sutcliffe, MW, honorary chairman of Sotherby’s Wine. If anything, she is guilty of under-statement, for this sale is nothing short of sensational.

PetrusAll the best vintages since the Second World War in Bordeaux right up to 2010 are represented, including 1945, 1947, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1982, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2005. And the chances that your favourite estate will be available are very high, for the grands vins from as many as 28 chateaux are available for both 1961 and 1982. This rises to 37 in 2000 (and a staggering 47 in 1996).

First growths proliferate as do super seconds, while the best Right Bank wineries are also coming under the hammer. So too are the top white Bordeaux between 1953 and 2008 as well as all the leading Sauternes and Barsac producers between 1899 and 2009. For good measure, a bottle of 1928 Pichon Comtesse de Lalande is being thrown in.

Burgundy and Rhone lovers will also be salivating at the wines from those two regions. Domaine de la Romanee Conti is prominently available in the former’s list as are Leflaive, Leroy, de Vogue and Rousseau. Chave and Rayas are the Rhone’s standar-bearers. What a beauty parade indeed.

Domaine Romanee ContiAnother auction of a private cellar by Sotheby’s raised £854,719 in the capital last week. A case of Le Pin 1995 brought the biggest bid – one of £14,688. Twelve bottles of Petrus 1975 were not far behind, fetching £12,338, while two cases of DRC La Tache 1972 (presumably with different levels) brought in individual sales of £8,460 and £7,638.

Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s Fine Wine, Europe, reported competitive bidding from across Europe and Asia for the red Bordeaux, adding that red Burgundy was similarly in demand.

Yquem BarrelsAcross the pond, a bottle of 1811 Yquem went for US$49,000 in Christie’s latest New York sale last week. That figure actually fell well short of the sum paid for an Yquem of the same vintage in 2011 when the French collector, Christian Vanneque, paid what remains a record for a bottle of white wine, £75,000.

A bottle of 1715 Terrantez Madeira, believed to be the oldest dated Madeira in existence, realized $19,600 (comfortably beating the estimate of $15,000). A case of Petrus 1990 sold for $41,650 while one of Le Pin 2000 raised $35,525. Two bottles of Mouton Rothschild 1945 fetched $18,375. The message is clear: buyers are continuing to stump up big sums for museum pieces and top vintages.