Market highs sees auction houses primed for huge sales

At the risk of sounding like a record that has got stuck, the Lix-ex Fine Wine 100 index went up yet again last month. That makes a record 15 months of consecutive rises, taking the index to its highest level since October 2011 when it reached 308.3. Calculated at the end of each month, it gained 0.4% in February to finish on 302.26. The Liv-ex 1000 index also hit a new all-time high of 303.15 for the seventh consecutive month, after heading north by 0.6% in February.

Gratifyingly, one of Vin-x’s favourite investment wines, Cheval Blanc, was the second highest mover last month, its 2006 jumping 7.4%. Another Right-Banker, Vieux Chateau Certan trumped that with its 2009 increasing in value by 10.4%. Rhone Valley champion producer, Beaucastel’s 2012 was up by 6.4%.

Looking back over the last 12 months, the Burgundy 150 index, which went up 25.9%, has seen the biggest increase, closely followed by the Bordeaux Legends 50 (up 22.8%). The Second Wines 50 index has enjoyed the most growth, with a rise of 31.3% during the last year. By comparison, Liv-ex’s Fine Wine 50 (featuring first growths’ 21st century vintages) has gone up 25% over the same period.

Meanwhile, the auction houses are preparing for the first big wine sales of the year. Sotheby’s New Bond Street announcing a “monumental” collection of fine wines will be sold off in three continents: in New York on 25 March, in London on 29 March and in Hong Kong on April 1.

According to Sotheby’s, “every category of wine from the best vinous areas of the world” will go under the hammer, with 1,290 lots predicted to raise in excess of £4.3 million (US$5.3m).

“Everyone who has ever wished to experience for themselves wines that are flagships in their genre will find what they want in these auctions,” Serena Sutcliffe MW, honorary chairman of Sotheby’s Wine, declared. “The first growths are stunning, the DRC is breathtaking, there are grands crus galore and glorious North and South Rhônes. Both professionals and knowledgeable amateurs will find everything they have ever imagined putting in their cellar or, even better, pouring in their glass.”

The wines, which are being sold by a single owner, include “rarities from a dream-like collection” in the words of Stephen Mould, head of wine for Sotheby’s Europe. He added there will be a range of formats from half bottles to imperials.

A few of the highlights in the London auction include: a double magnum of Cheval Blanc 1947 (estimate £50,000-65,000); seven bottles of La Mission Haut Brion 1955 (£7,000-9,000); three bottles of Hermitage La Chapelle 1959, Paul Jaboulet Aîné (£4,600-5,800) a magnum of Romanée Conti 1959, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (£12,000-16,000); a magnum of Echézeaux 1985 Henri Jayer (£8,000-10,000); a magnum of Latour 1929 (£4,000-5,200); a half-case of Beaucastel, Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2005 (£1,200-1,600). Hong Kong will feature ’historic’ claret from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘70s.