Auction report: mature vintages from the top Burgundy on the rise

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The sale that closed on 15 June saw a let-up in prices for several regions, notably Champagne, Bordeaux, and in Languedoc the Grange des Pères.  Burgundy, by contrast, had a strong showing, particularly for whites.

In Bordeaux, one of the main market indicators is Château Lafite Rothschild, which has long served as a barometer of Asian demand. At present we are seeing a stabilisation or even a slight fall in the prices of wines from this Pauillac premier cru. Bottles from 1982 and 1996 sold for the same as their iDealwine estimate or lower. The market is taking a breather, then, as far as this wine is concerned, even for vintages that are ready to drink. Meanwhile, in Bordeaux, recent vintages are displaying a similar trend: take, for example, the lot of 12 Carruades de Lafite Rothschild 2008 or the lot of 6 Montroses 2009, both of which were slightly down in price. One exception is Château Mouton Rothschild, with bottles of the 2000 vintage, with their classic golden engraving, continuing to register good gains. One bottle sold for €1440 (+9%) to a French enthusiast, and this premier cru remains a top iDealwine pick.

One thing is unchanged, though: mature vintages remain well positioned. The 1995 vintage, for example, is certainly one of the top choices that will let you sample the qualities of a Bordeaux ‘grand vin’ at its very best. Prime examples include Cheval Blanc (a lot of 12 bottles fetched €3840, +7%), Latour (a lot of 2 bottles went for €900, +16%), and Margaux (a lot of 2 bottles changed hands for €756, +9%). In a lower price bracket, bottles of 2005 from Château La Lagune and Château Carbonnieux also fetched a good price (up 24% and 10% respectively).

In Burgundy, once again the Romanée-Conti estate stands out as an auction favourite. A Richebourg grand cru from 1998, offered without a reserve price, sold for €1202, which is 33% higher than its estimate: and again it was a French connoisseur who will get to enjoy a little piece of history  J. However, whites are where the Burgundy market is particularly active, further boosted by all the bottles bearing the Coche Dury signature: a Meursault premier cru Genevrières 2007, in particular, was acquired by a French professional buyer for €672 (+60%). Domaine Raveneau also caused a sensation: a lot of 3 Chablis grand cru Valmur 1995 went under the hammer for €606 (+37%), while a bottle of Chablis grand cru Les Clos 1998 caught the eye of a Russian wine enthusiast, who bought it for €324 (+47%). Also worth mentioning: the Comtes Lafon estate has seen prices for recent vintages start to climb again, particularly its Montrachet grand cru, which is a star attraction in the 2010 and 2008 vintages.

Not surprisingly, the extremely rare Cathelin from Jean-Louis Chave takes the gold medal for the Rhône at this sale. This time it was the 2000 vintage that shone out, selling for €2220, a moderate increase on recent auctions…but it is fair to say that this vintage was already scoring top prices. So much so, in fact, that the Chave ‘classic’ looks as if it is going backwards by comparison…although it still fetched very good prices: a lot of two Hermitages 2001 went for €456 (+13%) to a French connoisseur. As for the big names, Guigal attracted a Hong Kong wine enthusiast with its Côte Rôtie La Turque 1999 (€432, +16%), while prices for Chapoutier continue to climb, particularly those of the Le Pavillon and l’Ermite Hermitages in the 2009 vintage. In terms of Cornas, although their prices are stabilising, wines from Noël Verset are as coveted as ever. And further south, Château Rayas is still proving a winner with wine lovers from the four corners of the earth: prices for wines from 2000 to 2006, sold to buyers in Belgium, Switzerland and Hong Kong, were all showing an upward trend. Finally, congratulations to the British professional buyer who, after some tenacious bidding, laid his hands on the Henri Bonneau ‘cuvée spéciale’ from Châteauneuf du Pape, in the 1990 vintage, for €792…a price that is double its estimate.

In the Loire, apart from the Clos Rougeard, all eyes were firmly on the François Cotat wines, starting with his Sancerre La Grande Côte 1990 (a lot of 2 bottles went for €418, +34%), acquired by one satisfied Dutch aficionado. A lot of two ‘cuvées spéciales’ of the Sancerre La Grande Côte, in the 1995 vintage, went for a more stable price of around hundred euros. The rarity effect is obviously a factor here, as François Cotat is one of the so-called ‘popes’ of Sancerre, whose wines are rarely available.

In other regions, the main feature is a stabilisation or even a lowering of prices for Laurent Vaillé’s Grange des Pères. This is most likely a case of the market taking a break after a seemingly endless spell of rising prices. In Champagne, there are also signs of a slowdown for prestige wines, with prices of Carelles from Selosse, Dom Pérignon from Moët & Chandon, and Collection Imaî from Taittinger showing a slight downward trend in the iDealwine auction. The exception is Clos du Mesnil from Krug, which performed well in the form of a bottle of the 1985 vintage (which sold for €1740, +67%).

 

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