In the third quarter of 2017, global sales of fine and rare wine at auction (consisting of sales in the U.S., Hong Kong and London markets) totaled $53.7 million, up 8.7 percent from last year’s $49.4 million sum in 2016’s third quarter.
U.S. sales totaled $30.3 million, up 9.4 percent. Hong Kong sales also rose 7.3 percent, to $17.7 million, and London increased by 9.6 percent to $5.7 million. As in the previous two quarters, pristine single-owner cellars and winery-direct consignments generated heated bidding, propelling aggregates above presale estimates.
Below, a review of U.S. wine auctions shows strong growth, and we offer a preview of fourth-quarter auctions.
Sotheby’s season opener kicked off in New York Sept. 9. The auction realized $2.7 million (inclusive of the 22.5 percent buyer’s premium) against a presale high estimate of $1.7 to $2.4 million.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the sale was its strong California content, amounting to roughly 40 percent of the lots on offer. One of the many standouts was a seven-bottle vertical of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2003 to 2009, estimated at $10,000 to $13,000, which was snapped up for $14,700. Addressing the ever-important issue of provenance, Sotheby’s noted that the consignor, a physician in possession of a family cellar, purchased most of his collection directly from the respective wineries.
Jamie Ritchie, CEO of Sotheby’s Wine, said that there was clearly a renewed interest in older California wines. “In fact, the overall sale results indicate that the market may be moving toward more traditional pricing, where there is greater value attached to wines that are ready to drink,” he told Wine Spectator via email.
The bidding on Old World wines was equally aggressive. Three bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 2003 soared above their $32,000 high estimate to bring $46,550. A case of Château Haut-Brion 1989 fetched $23,275 against a top estimate of $20,000.
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