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Bordeaux Faces Price Test at $23 Million Hong Kong Auction

Guy Collins and Frederik Balfour BusinessWeek 01/12/2012 22:59
Bordeaux Faces Price Test at $23 Million Hong Kong Auction - Business - wine - auction

Prices of top Bordeaux such as Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and Chateau Petrus may drop further at Hong Kong sales this month as demand declines on concern about economic weakness and financial-market volatility.

Auctions by Acker, Merrall & Condit, Sotheby’s and Zachys leading up to Chinese New Year celebrations could fetch more than $23 million, based on the auction houses’ top estimates. Still, this is about 33 percent below the combined $34.59 million total fetched by the same three events in January 2011.

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index fell 15 percent last year, as first-half price gains for Bordeaux were followed by declines in the latter part of 2011. Demand from Chinese buyers also started to move away from Bordeaux first growths to rarer Burgundies and second-growth Medocs.

“It used to be that top-end first growths would fly out the door at any price point,” said Rufus Beazley, head representative for Berry Brothers & Rudd’s Shanghai office. “We are seeing a lot of diversification into second growths and other grands crus wines that are being bought for drinking instead and less speculative punting on first growths.”

Acker’s sale on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14 features two cases of 1985 Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Burgundy’s premier wine made from a vineyard measuring just 4.3 acres (1.75 hectares). Each case carries an upper estimate of HK$1.6 million ($200,000), as well as a case of DRC 1990 with a similar price. Six bottles of the 2005 are estimated at as much as HK$800,000.