Burgundy Fueled Global Collector Sales at Sotheby’s Last Year

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Burgundy continues to be the wine of choice for most of the world’s top collectors.

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At Sotheby’s last year, wine from this region of northeastern France was a star, with four Burgundy producers achieving top prices in the auction house’s wine and spirits group for the year. The leader was Domaine de la Romanée, known as DRC, with US$16.4 million in sales.

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Wines from DRC represented 12% of the record US$132 million in Sotheby’s realized at 53 wine and spirits auctions last year, according to a 2021 market report released last week. The DRC haul includes nine bottles from the 1990 vintage of its Romanée-Conti Grand Cru vineyard that was in the collection of Joseph Lau, which sold for more than US$50,000 each at a Hong Kong auction in April.

Sotheby’s 2021 results, up 44% from a year earlier, also included the 100% sold auction of a private collection of DRC in Beaune, France, for US$1.5 million, double the low-end of a presale estimate. That auction included the sale of a Methuselah of 2000 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée Conti for €350,000 (US$404,600). A Methuselah is equal to eight bottles, so in this case, roughly, US$50,575 a bottle.

Romanee Conti 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (9 bottles), sold for $450,590

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Courtesy of Sotheby’s

While extraordinary, these prices didn’t nearly approach the record for DRC Romanée Conti. In 2018, two bottles of the 1945 vintage that had been owned by Burgundy producer Robert Drouhin sold for US$558,000 and US$496,000.

Sotheby’s Burgundy results are consistent with secondary market sales of Burgundy tracked by Liv-ex, a London-based global marketplace for the wine trade. For the year-to-date through March, the Burgundy 150—a measure of the region’s most actively traded wines—was up 14.6%.

For the last five years, it was up 112.4%, according to Liv-ex, and since 2003, the index’s returns are nearly double returns of the Liv-100, which follows the top 100 wines on the secondary market, according to a March report by the firm on Burgundy’s 2020 vintage.

Burgundy’s prices are supported by the relatively limited supply produced in even the best vintages and by the wine’s legendary ethereal quality. DRC’s Romanée-Conti vineyard, the producer’s most revered property, only produces about 5,400 bottles a year.

Compare that to Petrus, which performed best among Bordeaux producers at Sotheby’s in 2021 and produces about 30,000 bottles a year. Bottles of Petrus achieved a total US$6.4 million at Sotheby’s auctions last year, representing 5% of sales.

Sotheby’s Burgundy results last year were notably fueled by Hospices de Beaune, which leads an annual auction of wines produced on its Premier Cru and Grand Cru properties to raise money for hospitals in Beaune, a city in Burgundy’s center This was the auction house’s first year running the sale—and the Hospice de Beaune’s 161st—which raised a total of US$15.3 million over six hours in late November from 362 lots, all of which sold above the high end of their estimate ranges.

Other top sellers included Henri Jayer, a revered wine maker who died in 2006 and whose last vintage was in 2001, and Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay.

The remainder of Sotheby’s top-10 rankings were filled out by Bordeaux producers, including Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild, and Lafite Rothschild, Scotland’s Macallan whiskey (with US$2.8 million in sales), and, for the first time, Kweichow Moutai, a premium baiju, the whole-grain-based colorless spirit from China.

Twenty-four bottles of “Sun Flower” Kweichow Moutai 1974 sold for £1 million ($1.4 million) in London in June 2021—the highest price for a single lot of Moutai achieved outside of China, Sotheby’s said.


Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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