Two-Day Auction By Acker Merrall & Condit Featured Don Stott Collection
Coming a little over a month after Sotheby’s Hong Kong failed to sell every bottle in a Bordeaux-heavy October 2 auction, all eyes were on this weekend’s two-day Acker Merrall & Condit Hong Kong sale of rare French wines. Though Chinese wine drinkers and collectors have increasingly diversified away from buying strictly Bordeaux, French wine continues to reign both in Hong Kong and mainland China at the high end of the market. As such, this weekend’s auction was expected to do well. But with 98 percent of lots sold, and the sale pulling in a grand total of US$14.5 million (making it Hong Kong’s biggest wine auction of the year), it far exceeded expectations.
With the auction weighted towards rare and top-tier Burgundy, many bottles coming from the Don Stott Collection — considered a “reference library of great Burgundy” — and an impressive amount of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, the growing popularity of Burgundy was starkly apparent, with records falling left and right amid aggressive bidding. In all, 145 world auction records were set over the two-day sale, including 23 for Georges Roumier, 22 for Domaine Dujac, 17 for Romanée Conti and 13 for Louis Jadot. According to a post-auction statement by Acker Merrall & Condit, the strong bidding and disregard for pre-sale estimates this weekend “reflected the escalating demand and passion for fine Burgundy wines in the global market.”
The star lot from the Domaine de la Romanee Conti collection was a case of 1990 DRC La Tache which sold for a “staggering” HK$536,800 (US$68,821), they said. A case of 1985 La Tache fetched HK$390,400.
“Don Stott is the world’s foremost collector of Burgundy, and his cellar is unchallenged for its great depth and diversity of Burgundy, even after this sale,” Acker Merrall & Condit chief executive John Kapon said in the statement.
“The enthusiastic market response attests to the robust market in Asia for fine and rare wines.”
He said it also showed Chinese buyers were diversifying their interests, which in the past have been heavily dominated by Bordeaux wines.
The China Post adds that the strength of this weekend’s auction series “demonstrated the strength of Chinese demand for high-end luxury goods despite the eurozone crisis and rising inflation at home.” However, we’d argue that wealthy Chinese are more likely to take part in actions because of, rather than despite, these factors. As we’ve seen over the past two years, inflation has been one of the key drivers creating new Chinese collectors, with wealthy individuals in mainland China diversifying their cash assets by buying art, antiques, gold, jewelry and wine in order to sidestep inflation as well as low interest rates, a strengthening yuan, and real estate and stock market volatility.