Auction Report March 2020 | Which wines are people buying in quarantine?

One of our most recent auctions closed on the 18th and 19th March, just a few days after France’s confinement was announced. Our analysis of how bidders have reacted to this major change demonstrates the resilience of the fine wine market. Are grands crus a truly safe investment?

The announcement of a confinement to affect the whole of France from the 16th March caused a major shockwave throughout the country and its economy, including for the e-commerce sector. And the worlds of wine and auctioning haven’t been spared either. As you can imagine, this situation caused great worry for the auction at iDealwine that was set to close just a few days later. However, this particular sale closed with no cause for concern: our loyal wine lovers haven’t lost any of their bidding reflexes, with many present up until the last minute. Though of course this sale began ten days earlier – before the confinement was brought in – the analysis of its results still bring some important elements to consider in order to understand the current state of the fine wine market.

Bordeaux resists in the eye of the storm

From Bordeaux, prices for the grands crus classés showed a slight decrease, including in their best vintages, giving many wine lovers the occasion to acquire some superb bottles with more ease than usual. A case from Château Margaux – 12 bottles of the 1996 vintage – was auctioned at €6,336, or €528 a bottle, which is a drop of 5%. The 1982 Pichon-Lalande saw a decrease of 7%, selling for €455. Unsurprisingly, the less impressive vintages have seen even more of a decline (-25% for a 1994 Mouton-Rothschild at €276, -28% for a 1994 La Mission Haut-Brion at €115). In any case, consumers haven’t turned their backs on Bordeaux. And Asia has kept hold of its reputation as a great buyer of Bordeaux. For certain names that are particularly appreciated in Asia, prices have remained stable. This is the case for Carruades de Lafite – Château Lafite’s second wine – whose 2000 vintage sold for €242. Another coveted domain is Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac. A 1990 Magnum from here sold for €589 (+44%) and the 2001, a very promising bottle, went for €196 (+23%). As you can tell, there are still plenty of Bordeaux grands crus available, so now’s the time to get a good deal!

Burgundy, the safe investment par excellence

Burgundy has demonstrated its resilience in the face of the crisis, even if this generally translates as a stability in prices. At the highest levels, among the wines from the Côte de Nuits – the most prized at auction – an assorted case of grands crus from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the 2009 vintage was auctioned for €46,910, a 6% increase on its starting bid. Indeed, the wines from this cult domain are protected by the difficulty of acquiring them, even in their more recent vintages such as 2016 (Romanée-Saint-Vivant: €1,965, +14%). It seems as though rarity has remained the secret to success during this period so far. A 2008 Musigny from Domaine Mugnier saw a great result, selling for €1,289 (+17%). As for the finest Chardonnays, the trend is a bit different. At the highest level, the Corton-Charlemagne cuvées from Domaine Coche-Dury have apparently reached a peak. At the same time, some Meursault domains are still highly coveted (Pierre Morey, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Roulot, Comtes Lafon). We should also note that the Chablis from Domaine Raveneau is especially sought after, with the premier cru Montée de Tonnerre from 1996 selling for €307, an uptake of 72%.

The search for new stars

From the Rhône Valley, whilst some results have shown a gentle decline, the big names like Chave, Chapoutier, Guigal and Rayas are holding up well. Some of the newer names have even had the luxury of selling well! This was the case for Domaine Benetière whose famous cuvée Le Dolium went for €418 in the 2006 vintage (+192%) whilst the 2015 Syrah Cordeloux went for €147.

These results, as well as those for other regions, prove the insatiable appetite of wine lovers for rising stars, even – or perhaps especially – during such uncertain times. Soon-to-be stars, natural domains, advocates of organic growing and biodynamic producers: some of the attributes that define domains like Anglore in Tavel, Yvon Métras in the Beaujolais and Ganevat in the Jura.

We have also seen the continued success of domains that have become landmark names, with bidders showing great interest to precursors, those wine makers who saw the potential of a particular terroir before anybody else. Eloi Durrbach at Trévallon in Provence (€445 for a 2007 double magnum, +28%), Hervé Bizeul at Clos des Fées in the Roussillon (€209 for the 2010 La Petite Sibérie, +19%), and Laurent Vaillé in the Languedoc (€184 for a 2001 Grange des Pères, +15%).

Finally, we shouldn’t forget Alsace. One of this region’s most renowned cuvées, the Riesling Clos Saint-Hune from Trimbach was sold for €162, an increase of 32%. Albert Boxler’s wines also saw some significant sales this time round, as did the vendanges tardives from Maison Hugel.

Even if, regarding this particular auction, many of the bids were placed before the confinement was announced, our clients come from all around the world, with many from countries that were hit by the pandemic earlier than Europe. The positive results recorded here attest to the value placed by wine enthusiasts on the wine world’s finest signatures, with all regions included, even in times of crisis.

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