Wine Auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit Sets New Asia Auction Record, Donates $400,000 To Great Wall Charity

Auction, Offering 19,024 Bottles From A Single Cellar, Sets New Asia Record With Grand Total Of US$19.5 Million

AM&C set a new record for an Asian wine auction this weekend in Hong Kong, taking in $19.5 million (Image courtesy Wines-China)

AM&C set a new record for an Asian wine auction this weekend in Hong Kong, taking in $19.5 million (Image courtesy Wines-China)

Following recent sell-out auctions, Hong Kong has become Asia’s virtually undisputed wine hub, serving as the transit point for auction houses and buyers from all over the region, particularly mainland China. With wine appreciation catching on in China over the past several years and picking up momentum, wine lovers and collectors — especially collectors — have sent wine prices soaring in Hong Kong, most notably for high-quality Bordeaux. To tap this growing demand, we’ve seen wine auctioneers large and small kick up their efforts to reach Chinese buyers over the past year, trying everything from video simulcasts to organizing large-scale wine festivals to get in on the action. This weekend, Acker Merrall & Condit — “America’s Oldest and Finest Wine Shop” — also got in on the game with a massive wine auction in Hong Kong, selling 97% of its more than 19,000 bottles and pulling in a grand total of US$19.5 million, well over its pre-sale estimate of $16 million.

What set this auction apart from other recent sales in Hong Kong is that the proceeds from the Chateau Margaux lots — which, according to 21Food, took in a grand total of HK$3,098,800 (US$397,579) — will be donated to the preservation of the Great Wall of China, indicating the company’s intention to more proactively target the mainland China market. From The Standard (via Wines-Info):

Acker’s first two auctions in January and March pulled in around HK$58 million each.

Acker president John Kapon estimates that 75 percent of the auction house’s worldwide revenue this year will come from Hong Kong. The lion’s share of buyers are from Hong Kong and the mainland.

Owner of the Imperial Cellar Eric Greenberg said this is the most important auction he has done.

“I want to let collectors get the knowledge I have shared and I want to share with people who respect quality and are passionate about their wines,” he said. “I want to be able to bring one of my greatest accomplishments to China.”

He added he has met people in China who really appreciate wine, and that those who say the Chinese are less-educated about wine do not understand them.

There is no other market as enthusiastic as China, he said.

Last week's gala event attracted some of China's top wine collectors

Last week's gala event attracted some of China's top wine collectors

To promote its auction, Chateau Margaux and Acker Merrall & Condit last week held a gala event at the Great Wall, attended by some of China’s top wine collectors and around 70 guests. From Tencent Fashion (translation by Jing Daily team):

[At the event,] Ms. Corinne Mentzelopoulos and Acker Merrall & Condit Asia President John Kapon flew in, expressing their heartfelt praise for China’s historical treasure, the Great Wall. In addition, China Great Wall Society vice-chairman and former vice minister of the Ministry of Construction, Mr. Zhou Ganzhi, along with many of Asia’s top wine collectors and more than 70 distinguished guests, expressed their appreciation of China’s legendary ancient civilization. At the same time, Chateau Margaux representatives kicked off the night by announcing the winery’s collaboration with the China Great Wall Society to preserve the Great Wall.

Not a bad PR move. All in all, the broader auction had a sell-through rate of over 97%, taking in a grand total of HK$152 million (US$19.5 million), which is the highest amount ever recorded for a wine auction in Asia and the second-highest worldwide. “Bordeaux Fever” indeed.

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