Auction report June 2021 | Château Rayas, Saumur Brézé, and Screaming Eagle on top

After long months of restrictions, June 2021 saw the beginning of a slow but steady return to the things we took for granted pre-covid. With clients once more enjoying the ambience of bars, restaurants, terraces, and even some small events, are wine lovers finally puling themselves away from their screens? If they are, it doesn’t show in our auction results! Let’s take a look at some of the recent top bids on star bottles.

Château Rayas shoots for the moon

In the context of recent market trends, Château Rayas, which is a stalwart of the Rhône’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, is progressing in leaps and bounds when it comes to the value of its wines. Wien enthusiasts around the world are getting wind of the delicious nectar that lies within these bottles, and their desire to taste Emmanuel Reynaud’s exceptional cuvées is far removed from ideas of drinking the ‘latest big thing’. These wines are legendary for their finesse, their aromatic complexity, and their intensity, and have made a habit of lighting up the auctions in which they feature. A 2009 from the property went under the hammer for €1,547 last month (+57%), a 2010 for €1,474 (+20%), a 2007 for €1,320 (+49%), a 2003 for €1,314 (+62%), and a 1999 for €1,289 (+73%). It’s increasingly rare to see a bottle of Rayas sell for under a grand. The Pignan cuvée often crosses the €300 threshold, and all of the bottles from La Fonsalette (one of Reynaud’s satellite estates) auctioned in June increased in value, with the 1993 going for €399 (+125%) and the 2010 for €332. Château des Tours’ Vacqueyras sold for a top bid of €160 in its 1999 vintage (+31%) and some of the Côtes-du-Rhône vintages from the same property are worth over €100 now; this is the case for wines from 2001, 2009, 2015, and 2016. All this to say that there’s no sign of the Rayas label running out of steam.

In Saumur, the Brézé parcel shines bright

For around a decade now, interest in wines from the Loire Valley has crystallised around a few really excellent domains, a circle arguably led by Clos Rougeard in Saumur-Champigny. Brought to its current success by the Foucault brothers, this estate had a small group of dedicated followers for a long time before achieving global acclaim. Beyond the now mythical Poyeux and Le Bourg cuvées, both beautiful Cabernet wines that age with real grace, the domain also produces a remarkable Chenin, a white Saumur from the Brézé parcel. This taut and expressive wine has also seen its value soar at auction. In June, the 2008 vintage sold for €295 (+23%) whilst the 2015 went for €258 (+12%). Other talented vintners crafting wine from this parcel are also very much worth keeping in mind, then. Domaine Guiberteau, for example, is a spearhead of the region’s viticulture; Romain Guiberteau organically cultivates 14.5 hectares of mature vines. Today, these wines are quite difficult to find, which has unsurprisingly increased the interest of bidders at auction. Indeed, a bottle of 2008 Saumur Brézé Clos des Carmes was bought for €141 last month, an increase in value of 108%, whilst the 2015 vintage remained at a lower price of €64. A biodynamic Brézé worth trying would be that produced by a rising star of the appellation, Arnaud Lambert.

Wines from the rest of the world

The dynamism of the auction market makes it the perfect place for borders to be crossed and new horizons to be explored. Whilst the vineyards of Italy provide an increasing proportion of the beautiful bottles we have on offer, it’s US wine that we’re seeing in more and more connoisseur cellars. Screaming Eagle, one of California’s most coveted names, is now owned by Stanley Kroenke, know well-known among Burgundy fans since taking over Bonneau du Matray. The domain’s emblematic Screaming Eagle cuvée – a real rarity produced in just 650 cases a year – is a beautiful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. More of a Bordeaux-leaning wine in style, and one that provokes some heated bidding wars whenever it features at auction. Its 2006 vintage, initially given a starting price of €1,596 in June, skyrocketed to €2,456 (+45%). The fact that a French enthusiast placed the winning bid demonstrates a local interest for special bottles from abroad.

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