Auction Report: November, all top domains on the rise

cornasOf the 3,000 lots offered at the auction closed 16 November, each region offered up some genuine treasures; rare wines originating from ultra-sophisticated domains, or produced by legendary winegrowers who are no longer with us. It was a real paradise for wine lovers, who took part in what amounted to a vineyard treasure hunt… and it was a hunt which led to some pitched auction battles. Here’s a detailed, region-by-region breakdown.

There were few surprises or steep price rises from Bordeaux, whose wines nonetheless accounted for the largest share of the transactions recorded in this auction (38% of the lots sold, representing almost half of total sales in value). It’s apparent that the market is consistently paying a premium for large bottle sizes and scarcity. For example, a double magnum of Château Lafite 2005 is now on its way to China – yes, China, where Lafite is still selling very well! – for the sum of €3,360 (+23%). Rarity is also the key to the rise in the price of Château Ausone 1988, which sold for €324 per bottle (+37%) to a Hong Kong connoisseur.

In Burgundy, with some very rare bottles going up for auction, a 1990 Echézeaux from Henri Jayer went for €4,320 and a 1966-vintage Richebourg from Domaine Noëllat went under the hammer for €1,440. Meanwhile, wines from the Domaine de la Romanée Conti are still actively sought after: +17% for the 2006 La Tâche Grand Cru (€2,100) and +19% for a Romanée Saint-Vivant 1988 (€930).

Staying with the Côte de Nuits, two domaines stood out, the first of which was from Emmanuel Rouget – the heir of Henri Jayer. In Vosne-Romanée, its 2002 Cros Parantoux premier  cru was sold for €900 (+67%) to a buyer from Hong Kong, while the Les Beaux-Monts premier cru closed at €280 (+90%). Another rarity was the Domaine Engel (which has since been renamed the Domaine Eugénie), with a 1990 Clos Vougeot going for €570 (+43%). From the Côte de Beaune, there was a fine performance from the Domaine d’Angerville, whose 1985 Volnay Champans premier  cru was hotly contested before finally going to a Hong Kong connoisseur for €240 a bottle (+45%).

In the Rhône, too, a large bottle was responsible for pushing up the prices: from Châteauneuf, a jeroboam of the 2010 Deus Ex Machina cuvée from the Clos Saint-Jean sold for €1,380 (50% up on the bottle price). Once again, there was some lively bidding on the wines from the Domaine Henri Bonneau: €420 for the 2010 Réserve des Célestins (+88%!). The Cornas appellation from the north of the region is always of keen interest to connoisseurs, whether they’re bidding on the wines of Domaine Verset (€376 for the 1985 vintage and €300 for the 1996) or the production of Thierry Allemand, who bought part of the estate of this now-defunct producer (€208 for the 1988 Cuvée Chaillot, +73%).

Is it the fast-approaching end of the year that’s driving the demand for hard-to-find wines and “anniversary” vintages? A magnum from the Krug champagne house, the 1966 Cuvée Brut Vintage, went for the sum of €3,840 in this sale. Also in demand were champagnes from mature vintages of Dom Pérignon: a 1985 sold for €504 (+77%). Similarly, Taittinger has enjoyed its usual success with its Comtes de Champagne, a vintage wine from 1979 which exceeded the €400 threshold during the last auctions (€408, +70%). Much prized for its rarity and venerable age, a bottle of 1953 Pol Roger Brut Vintage champagne attained a price of €252 during this same sale.

In the other regions, the price surge continues on wines from the Jura, and especially from the Domaine Overnoy (see our article on this subject). In Alsace, prices for Clos Sainte-Hune Riesling, from the Maison Trimbach, are on the rise (€384 for 1990, €324 for 1989 in its Vendanges Tardives incarnation, and €168 for 2007). From the Loire, in addition to the ever-popular Clos Rougeard wines (€432 for a magnum of Saumur Brézé 2005), the success of the Clos de la Néore from Edmond Vatan in Sancerre was a surprise: its 2010 went for €420 to a Hong Kong connoisseur! Another legendary wine was the 1990 Goutte d’Or Vouvray from the Domaine Foreau, which is now winging its way to Canada for €528. It’s a sign that the Loire is continuing its slow but nonetheless inexorable progression.


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