Bloomberg News

Burgundy Records Drive $14.5 Million H.K. Sale, Year’s Biggest

November 07, 2011

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bottles of Romanee Conti and Henri Jayer vintages sold for records in Hong Kong as Acker, Merrall & Condit said last night that it raised $14.5 million, the highest tally for a wine auction this year.

The New York company’s two-day sale, totaling $HK112.8 million in local currency, underscores the resilience of Chinese demand in the face of global concern about sovereign debts.

The event featured top vintages offered by Don Stott, a U.S. collector whose cellars are known for their stock of Burgundies. Acker said 145 auction records were set.

“The provenance is impeccable,” said Hong Kong collector Paul Dunn, who paid HK$732,000 ($94,300) including commission for the most expensive lot, a 12-bottle case of a 1990 Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux Henri Jayer.

The strength of bidding, with 98 percent of lots sold, highlighted how Asian buyers of rare French wines are diversifying beyond Bordeaux first growths to embrace top Burgundies including Romanee-Conti, Montrachet and Richebourg.

Hong Kong has become the world’s premier wine market, with $165 million in sales in 2010, according to the Wine Spectator magazine, with robust buying by mainland Chinese collectors.

Eight of Burgundy’s top wine producers were on hand for Acker’s sale, including Chateau de la Tour, Maison Louis Jadot and Domaine Armand Rousseau.

“It’s amazing here the interest of people,” said Sylvain Pitiot, who runs the 10-century old Clos de Tart vineyard which recently began selling its wines in China.

Petrus, Lafite

Acker also offered lots of Bordeaux, including a case of 1982 Chateau Petrus which sold for $HK488,000 and two cases of 1982 Chateau Lafite which fetched $HK439,000 each.

Acker, the world’s largest specialist wine auction house, raised HK$91.87 million in September at its previous Hong Kong event, boosted by the recording-setting price of HK$2.32 million ($297,400) paid for a case of Romanee-Conti 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Burgundy.

Leading Burgundies are produced in much lower volumes, and so can command higher prices per bottle for the best vintages.

The Liv-ex 100 Index of Fine Wines has fallen 15.5 percent from its July high, and down 8.4 percent since the beginning of the year.

That hasn’t deterred Dunn, who started collecting two years ago and ended up spending 50 percent more than the $1 million he planned at the Acker sale.

“Now value is holding much better for Burgundy than Bordeaux,” he said in an interview.

Acker will hold its fourth and final Hong Kong auction of 2011 on Dec. 9 and 10. The company charges a buyer’s premium of 22 percent on top of the hammer price.

--Editors: Mark Beech, James Kraus.

To contact the writer on this story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bret Okeson at; Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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