Rankings | The top-priced wines at auction in the first half of the year

The Grand Cru market has been in a lull since the final quarter of 2022. For some signatures which had seen their value soar over the past 18 months, the easing of prices is a welcome trend. That said, buyers remain eager to find rare, prestigious wines, including some that stand out from the crowd. Discover our ranking of iDealwine auctions held during the first half of 2023, and our 8-question analysis of market trends.

The TOP20 highest-priced bottles auctioned on iDealwine during the first half of 2023 is now available. While results reflect a real market cooling, Burgundy wines continue to feature heavily in the rankings. In this ranking, which includes only one bottle per domain (the most expensive), 11 out of the 20 spots are dedicated to Grand Crus from the Côte de Nuits (8 bottles) and three Grand Chardonnays from the Côte de Beaune. The Bordeaux region continues to hold its ground with 5 representatives, including Petrus, ranked 8th in the TOP20 and still number one in its region. It is worth noting that the latest vintage on the market, the 2019, takes the top spot (€5,084). Two iconic Champagnes entered the TOP20, Krug’s Clos du Mesnil 1979 (#13), which was snapped up for €4,092, and Jacques Selosse’s Extra-Brut Premier Cru 2008 (#20), which fetched €3,100. Unsurprisingly, the Rhône Valley provided a worthy representative, with Jean-Louis Chave’s rare Cuvée Cathelin en Hermitage (#7) selling for €6,076 in its 1998 vintage. Also worth mentioning is a Napa Valley wine, the legendary – and impossible to find – Screaming Eagle 2019 (#16) with a hammer price of €3,714. We’ve taken a close look at eight of the latest market trends to shed some light on this ranking.

Have amateurs deserted Grands Crus auctions during the first half of the year?

Auction-goers responded enthusiastically to our sales, which succeeded one another at a steady pace: in addition to the 24 wine auctions held in the space of six months on the iDealwine platform, we also held four spirits auctions on the Fine Spirits Auction website. The volume of wines auctioned rose by 9% in the first half of the year showing that wine lovers are still very much buying. While the French are showing a cautious and, in some cases, wait-and-see attitude, more and more Asian and American enthusiasts are logging on each day. Also, the iDealwine website became available in German and Italian a few weeks ago (in addition to the existing French and English versions). It’s a feature that is winning over wine aficionados from across the Alps and the Rhine. All our customers, throughout the world, are keeping a close eye on market trends and prices. And everyone remains on the lookout for great opportunities in a market that has softened.

What is the impact of the economic situation on the Grand Crus market?

In addition to the geopolitical situation, three economic factors have had an impact on the Grands Crus market in recent months. The level of inflation and squeezing budgets has contributed to the lull in wine purchases since the beginning of the year. Interest rates, which continue to rise, are also generating new investment opportunities, driving investors looking for security away from alternative investments such as fine wines. Last but not least, the dollar-euro exchange rate, less favourable to American buyers (or those based in countries indexed to the US currency), suffered as the euro rallied against the dollar. Against this backdrop, buyers show an ever-increasing interest in price, quality and rarity.

Have Burgundy wines hit a ceiling?

As we’ve seen, Burgundy continues to reign supreme in the ranking of the most expensive wines. But the region’s prices have undeniably been toning down compared to the record levels set in the first half of 2022. However, when the proud owners agree to part with their bottles at prices which, in some cases, are back to their pre-Covid levels, buyers really do come forward. A striking example is the Musigny from Domaine Leroy, the benchmark for auction records on iDealwine. Last year, a 2006 reached €34,100. In 2021, another bottle of 2006 fetched €28,240. During the first half of 2023, it was still this same Grand Cru from the same iconic estate that topped the rankings, but at a revised price. In fact, a French enthusiast acquired a bottle of the 2011 vintage for €22,444.

Although wine lovers are still actively purchasing wines, there are fewer bidding wars for the most expensive wines in the ranking. The top five wines in the TOP20 were sold at prices close to their starting prices. On the other hand, significant increases were recorded for the white Grands Crus of the Côte de Beaune, and for some older vintages, such as Méo-Camuzet’s Richbourg 1989, which fetched €3,756 (+50% on the starting price). Some estates arouse real enthusiasm among the bidders. Hubert Lamy, Mugneret Gibourg and a collectable bottle like Chopin Groffier provide just a few examples.

Have some wines become impossible to sell?

No wine is impossible to sell in a market driven by supply and demand – quite the opposite! Wine enthusiasts continue to be numerous and eager, yearning to discover the new bottles available at auction every week. But the record price levels reached in the first half of 2022 have ceased since the start of the year. This return to pre-Covid prices (2020–2021) applies in particular to the ’BIG 8′ estates, which primarily feature the signatures of Leroy, as mentioned above, and Auvenay. But also, the Romanée Conti, and the Rousseau and Roumier domains. Two major signatures, Arnoux-Lachaux and Bizot, which had generated feverish bidding in 2022, fell off the radar for a few weeks, the time it took for the market to regain a balance between acceptable prices for the seller and buyers’ expectations. As a result, the 2006 Échézeaux from Domaine Bizot (#10 in the ranking) sold for €4,464, compared with €5,208 in September 2022 (-14%). Château Rayas, the last of the BIG 8 does not hail from Burgundy, but from the Rhône Valley. Its value has also slowed. The 1990, for example, soared last year, exceeding the €4,000 a bottle mark. Today, its equilibrium price stands at €2,817, which is still much higher than the €1,964 recorded at the end of 2021. The rarity of available bottles continues to exert an irresistible attraction on wine lovers seeking to add to their collection.

Has the market hit a low point, and will it start to rise again soon?

The market is unlikely to return to the record prices achieved in 2022 any time soon. However, an interesting indicator is the number of visitors to the website and to the auctions, which remains strong and is even up 14% on last year. So, yes, auction-goers are definitely there! However, they are much more alert to the prices offered.

What about natural wines?

A number of biodynamic and natural wines feature among those which recorded the biggest price rises in the first half of the year. They are found in most regions, but particularly those renowned and identified for their natural production, such as Jura (Allante Boulanger, Thomas Popy, Morgane Turlier), Beaujolais (Lapierre, Jambon, Foillard, Julie Balagny, Chamonard…), the Loire Valley (Nicolas Barbou, Olivier Lejeune, Pierre Ménard…) and especially the Auvergne region (Saurigny, Pierre Beauger, l’Arbre blanc, Benoît Rosenberger, François Dhumes…). The natural wine trend is also present in Burgundy (Les Horées, Pavelot), Roussillon (Clos du Rouge Gorge), and Bordeaux (Château Le Puy)…

Do Bordeaux Grands Crus still constitute a sound investment choice?

In the case of great ageing vintages, they certainly do. Provided that you are prepared to accept a fairly long investment horizon. Auctions held in the first half of 2023 showcased the great vintages and collectable years produced over the course of the first half of the 20th century. Some of these wines made it into the top 20 highest-priced bottles. Château Mouton Rothschild stood out with the oldest vintage, 1905, which fetched €3,380 (#18). The ranking also includes several ‘years of the century’, such as the 1929 from Château La Mission Haut-Brion (€4,132, #11), and the 1982 from Château Lafite Rothschild (€3,130, #19). But it’s not always necessary to wait for the test of time before making the most of a Bordeaux wine. Petrus proved this with its 2019, as did Château Le Pin, 12th in the ranking, with its 2016 reaching €4,092. As for Château Figeac, prices have risen for all its vintages. A result of the property’s elevation to the rank of 1er Grand Cru de Saint-Emilion ‘A’. Bordeaux continues to be a safe bet, thanks to the choice of a good ageing year, the quest for rarity (often on the right bank) and the search for great signatures that continue to make wine enthusiasts dream, particularly in Singapore.

Which regions are on the rise?

Champagne remains a highly sought-after region for enthusiasts from all over the world (Europe, the USA, and now also Asia). The Loire Valley remains an Eldorado for the sheer variety of wines it has to offer, from Muscadet to Sancerre, and even as far afield as the Auvergne. Wine lovers are now relishing the opportunity to discover mature vintages from estates that were long accessible only to the most informed enthusiasts in Beaujolais, land of experience, Languedoc and Roussillon, regions that are now well established in iDealwine auctions. Alsace is still a confidential vineyard at auction, but connoisseurs are not mistaken, and they are flocking to the Grand Crus from exceptional terroirs, late harvest or SGN (selection of noble berries) wines, as well as Pinot Noirs, which are becoming increasingly popular. Not forgetting Corsica, Provence, the South-West and, of course, Jurançon…

What about wines from beyond France?

It’s a fact. Regions outside of France are undeniably attracting increasing interest from wine enthusiasts looking to broaden their horizons. Some fine results have been achieved in sales of Italian wines, of course, the leading country after France at iDealwine auctions. Whether we’re talking about the great Tuscan wines (Masseto, Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Case Basse) or iconic Piedmontese estates (Roagna, Conterno, Giacosa), aficionados are present, with strong interest from Asian and American customers. Spanish wines also scored highly, with icons such as Vega Sicilia to more recent stars such as Pingus, and off-the-beaten-track names such as Commando G. The United States also stood out, with Opus One even making it into the top 20 auctions of the first six months. Yes, wines from places outside of France certainly warrant special attention over the coming months.

What wines should we be selling at the moment?

You’ll have grasped that all regions and all wine profiles are of interest to wine enthusiasts. If you need to downsize your cellar, go for years that have reached their peak (or are close to it) to get the most out of their value. You can also opt for fine vintages with good ageing potential, including some of the more recent ones. For mature or older vintages, pay particular attention to the condition of the bottles and their capsules. A weak cork, likely to fall into the bottle, will be rejected by our team as the bottle cannot be dispatched to buyers without risk of leakage. Our teams monitor the market daily, so you can rely on their expertise and estimates, even if the prices proposed are no longer reaching the record prices registered last year. An attractive price will have every chance of drawing the attention of bidders and, ultimately, driving up the bidding. Don’t hesitate to contact our team for advice on how best to manage your cellar and refine your liquid gold collection over time.

Ranking of the best 2023 auctions – First half-year

PositionWineAuction price for the lotAuction price per bottlePrice diff. %Buyer’s profile
11 bt Musigny Grand Cru Leroy 2011 (11/01/2023)€22,444€22,444 –Private individual – FRANCE
21 bt Romanée-Conti GC Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2010 (29/03/2023)€21,204€21,204 –Private individual – FRANCE
31 bt Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru d’Auvenay 2005 (08/03/2023)€18,848€18,848 –Private individual – FRANCE
41 bt Musigny Grand Cru Georges Roumier 2010 (15/03/2023)€16,740€16,740 –Private individual – FRANCE
51 bt Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux Henri Jayer 1990 (01/02/2023)€13,764€13,764 –Private individual – UNITED KINGDOM
61 bt Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Coche Dury 1999 (15/02/2023)€6,324€6,32413%Pro – FRANCE
71 bt Hermitage Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin Jean-Louis Chave 1998 (23/02/2023)€6,076€6,07636%Private individual – FRANCE
81 bt Petrus 2019 (19/01/2023)€5,580€5,58029%Private individual – FRANCE
91 bt Musigny Grand Cru Faiveley 2010 (15/03/2023)€4,526€4,52612%Private individual – FRANCE
101 bt Echezeaux Grand Cru Bizot 2006 (11/01/2023)€4,464€4,464 –Private individual – FRANCE
111 bt Château La Mission Haut-Brion Cru Classé de Graves 1929 (06/06/2023)€4,132€4,13238%Pro – HONG KONG
121 bt Château Le Pin 2016 (02/02/2023)€4,092€4,09210%Private individual – FRANCE
131 bt Clos du Mesnil Krug 1979 (22/03/2023)€4,092€4,09210%Private individual – USA
141 bt Richebourg Grand Cru Méo Camuzet 1989 (14/06/2023)€3,756€3,75650%Private individual – HONG KONG
151 bt Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Jacky Truchot 2005 (24/05/2023)€3,756€3,756 –Pro – HONG KONG
161 bt Napa Screaming Eagle 2019 (25/01/2023)€3,714€3,714 –Private individual – FRANCE
171 bt Montrachet Grand Cru Ramonet 2020 (16/05/2023)€3,506€3,50612%Private individual – HONG KONG
181 bt Château Mouton Rothschild 1905 (06/06/2023)€3,380€3,380100%Pro – ITALY
191 bt Château Lafite Rothschild 1982 (11/05/2023)€3,130€3,1304%Private individual – FRANCE
201 bt Extra-Brut Premier Cru Millésimé Jacques Selosse 2008 (11/01/2023)€3,100€3,100 –Pro – HONG KONG

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