Auction report June 2020 | Classic cuvées vs stars of tomorrow

The wine auction market turned out to be particularly dynamic in June, revealing that enthusiasts had an appetite for every kind of cuvée. On the one hand, the finest signatures played their role as classic, safe bets, and on the other, we saw domains largely unheard-of just a few years ago establish themselves within their respective regions.

Mature vintages, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne

Bordeaux’s grands crus demonstrated their timeless character throughout our June auctions, particularly when it came to fine vintages that have now reached a good level of maturity. A Petrus cuvée recorded a superb bid of €3,684 in its 1990 vintage (+17%). These are the kinds of prices we see for a peak vintage. Château Lafite-Rothschild remains a safe bet, even if its prices have stabilised, as we can see with the sale of a 1986 12-bottle lot that went to a French professional for €9,571 (€793 per bottle). Just as stable is the 1982 vintage from the same Pauillac premier cru classé, sold for €2,026. From Sauternes, dessert wines are yet to have the last word since a rare imperial (6 litres) of 2010 Château d’Yquem went for a winning bid of €2,702 to a Belgian professional buyer after a tense bidding war. The rarity of some of the most famous vintages, along with their collector value, always have bidders on tenterhooks up to the last minute. It is thus that a bottle of Château Mouton-Rothschild in its exceptional 1961 vintage was sold for €2,456 – this was a 114% increase on its estimate.

Things work slightly differently in Burgundy, where fine, rare bottles don’t need to wait years before seeing their prices soar. Our record for the year (so far 😉) is indeed a bottle from this classic region, this time a 2009 Romanée-Conti which sold for €16,578. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that this is Burgundy’s only big success, though! The famous Lalou Bize-Leroy is the owner of Domaine Leroy and Domaine d’Auvenay, and every month we see her cuvées attracting more and more attention. It is the selling price compared to the estimate that provides the best insight into her current success. Take, for example, the 2005 Criôts-Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru from Domaine d’Auvenay which auctioned for €5,526, a 33% increase on its estimate. Same for the 2005 Clos-de-la-Roche by Domaine Leroy which, at €3,316, increased 46% on its estimate, and Auvenay’s 2005 Goutte d’Or Meursault premier cru which recorded a jump of +124% with its €1,854 hammer price! As you can tell, these bottles are a big thing right now.

Whilst Champagne is the only region to produce non-vintage cuvées at such scale, cuvées produced in one specific year, infinitely rarer, are still the most prized at auction. A magnum of 1988 Clos de Goisses from Maison Philiponnat was bought for €381 (77% above its estimate). And this is only one of several vintage champagnes found in our top sales for June.

A wind of change blows through other regions

When we head to France’s other glorious wine making regions, it seems as though the jury is still out, with insatiable enthusiasts on the edge of their seats, keen to discover the next big names. This is why certain domains that, up until recently, were not incredibly well-known, now find themselves in the spotlight! This is the case for Xavier Caillard’s wines, les Jardins des Esmeraldins. A Loire domain in Brézé, not far from Saumur, it saw two of its bottles (a red and a white) go for over €1,300 each, prices representing a leap of over 400% compared to their estimate. Such an astonishing figure can be explained by the tiny quantity of bottles produced from the domain’s two-hectare vineyard, engaged in the path of natural wines. We see here, once more, that the choices made in the Loire depend far more on the rarity of a given wine than its colour, since both bottles went for the same price. Could this be the next Clos Rougeard? This emblematic domain continues to excel for now, though, with a 3-bottle lot of its famous 2005 Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux selling for €810, a 55% increase on its iDealwine estimate.

The finest names from the Jura also continue to hold their own, with a 198 Arbois Pupillin from Domaine Overnoy-Houillon selling for €430 (+44%). From the Rhône, three bottles of Chapoutier’s famous Hermitage Le Pavillon in its 1990 vintage sold for €1,007. And Guigal’s trustworthy trio is still considered a clear classic, with a 2007 La Landonne selling for €776 in June. From the south of the region, the landmark producer Emmanuel Reynaud continues to perform faultlessly with his many Château Rayas cuvées, all of which remain highly coveted (€946 for the 1995, +6%, and €921 for the 2009, +15%).

However heavy uncertainty weighs on the economy at present, it is clear that rarity and quality remain two constants when it comes to the auction market. Add to this the relentless interest of wine enthusiasts in unearthing the stars tomorrow, and we cannot deny that the landscape of the wine market remains highly interesting and dynamic.