On Heels Of Record El Bulli Sale, Spanish Wines Break Into Auction Top Ten
The sale of star chef Feran Adrià’s famed El Bulli cellar may have grabbed the headlines at Sotheby’s Hong Kong wine auctions last week, but for anyone following Asia’s wine collecting scene, the real news came the day after.
In the April 4 “Sale Of The Finest & Rarest Wines,” two lots from the prestigious Spanish winery Bodegas Vega Sicilia broke into the top ten, muscling in among the Château Pétrus and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Six bottles of 1953 Vega Sicilia Único made it to seventh place by pulling in HK$367,500 (US$47,115), five times the high estimate of HK$70,000. Rounding out the top ten was a vintage assortment of Único, which fetched HK$294,000 (US$37,692), also well above its high estimate of HK$160,000.
Other Vega Sicilia lots turned in similar results, with several scoring double their high estimates or more. More than 83 percent of the sold lots surpassed their high estimates.
While results like these can reflect too-conservative pricing in pursuit of a post-sale wow factor, in this case they suggest that Spanish wines may be achieving a coveted toehold in the high-end Asian wine market. (While the El Bulli sale drew bidders all over the world, bidders in the April 4 sale were largely Asian.)
In a release issued the day of the sale, Serena Sutcliffe, international head of wine for Sotheby’s, called it an “unprecedented triumph for Spanish wines.” Robert Sleigh, head of Sotheby’s Asian wine department, pointed to a continued commitment among Asian wine collectors to wines of “impeccable provenance.” He went on to recount “enthusiastic biddings from both new and old clients from all over Asia, including increasingly active participation from China.”
As Jing Daily has often noted, it will take more than a single sale to knock French Burgundy off the top of China’s high-end oenological heap. Still, the strong showing by Vega Sicilia, coming on the heels of the El Bulli sale – which itself included some 2,000 bottles of Spanish wine – suggest that premier Spanish vintages are edging their way onto the Asian wine collecting radar.