At Vin-X we religiously follow the fortunes of the various indices belonging to our equivalent of the Stock Exchange, Liv-ex or the London International Vintners Exchange. However we also look at other bellwethers of the fine wine market and one of the best barometers of what is happening in the wider world of wine is definitely the auction market. Sotheby's is probably the most high profile auction house in the fine wine world and so it is always instructive to listen to their Head of Wine for Asia and the USA, Jamie Ritchie, when he makes any significant pronouncements.
In a recent interview Ritchie stated that Asia holds the edge over the USA when determining the future of the fine wine market. He predicted that they would grow quicker and that the pace of change would be faster. Combined sales in Hong Kong have leapt from $14.3 million in 2009 to $184 million and accounted for 44% of their total wine sales last year. One of the most interesting facts about Asian buyers is that they are happy to buy wine from auctions worldwide whereas British and Europeans stick to London with South American and US buyers committed to New York. They represented 48% of buyers in London and 32% in New York. The US market is growing once again but is still hampered by its import system compared to Hong Kong's more liberal laws. Hong Kong remains the best city in which to sell Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Petrus or Le Pin whilst New York is best for Burgundy, Italy or California. Older vintages sell best in London and that remains the dominant trend. Global demand has shifted away from young wines to lay down to mature vintages ready to be consumed.
Finally we need to remember that whilst the demand for Burgundy might appear irresistible it only commands a small portion of the overall market. Despite this whilst prices might seem high currently Jamie Ritchie still thinks they have further to climb. If this is so he reckons the value could be in California, Italy, white Burgundy and Champagne. Watch this space.