Bordeaux makes way for Burgundy and whisky at Sotheby’s

Decanter Richard Woodard

Bordeaux’s share of sales has fallen to a record low at Sotheby’s as consumers, especially in Hong Kong, have switched to Burgundy and whisky, shows a new report from the auction house.

Richebourg grand cru, burgundy vineyard
Richebourg Grand Cru in Burgundy's Côte de Nuits.

For the first time since Sotheby’s started selling wine in 1970, Bordeaux accounted for less than 50% of Sotheby’s auction and retail sales in 2017, dropping to 40% from 52% in 2016 – something the company said was ‘unthinkable’ only three years ago.

The Sotheby’s 2017 Wine Auction Report attributes Bordeaux’s fall to ‘a significant decline in Bordeaux’s share of sales at auction in Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent in London’.

‘For Sotheby’s Wine, the secondary wine market has been dominated by Bordeaux ever since we started auctions in 1970, with Bordeaux sales representing over 60% year-on-year,’ Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, told Decanter.com.

‘The dynamic growth in both value and sales of Burgundy and whisky showed that demand has broadened significantly, driven by buyers from North America and Asia.

‘We expect demand for both to remain consistently strong, and are likely to witness new benchmark prices during the rest of this year.’

Burgundy’s share of Sotheby’s sales in 2017 was 39%, up from 34%, with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti securing the leading producer spot for the fifth successive year. Its sales of $11.6m were greater than Lafite, Pétrus and Mouton-Rothschild combined.

But whisky was the biggest mover on the global auction scene, at least for Sotheby’s, where it took a 6% share of revenues in the fine wine and spirits division, up from 1% in 2016.

This increase was led by The Macallan single malt, which recorded $2.6m in sales, up 4,000% on the year and making it number seven on the top 10 producers list.

Two Macallan lots and one of Japan’s Ichiro Hanyu Card Player Series accounted for the three most lucrative auction lots of the year, led by The Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection, an 18-bottle lot sold in April 2017 in Hong Kong for just under $1m – a new world record for a whisky lot.

The report also illustrates the continued dominance of Asian buyers, who were responsible for 58% of Sotheby’s worldwide sales in 2017, up 2% on 2016. For auctions alone, they took a 50% share of available lots, but 60% of value, including nine out of the 10 most expensive lots.


Read also: How to approach buying wine en primeur

The post Bordeaux makes way for Burgundy and whisky at Sotheby’s appeared first on Decanter.

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