First ever fine wine auction in China last month

The first ever auction of fine wine took place in Beijing last month and achieved sales in excess of £750,000, mainly to people who it appears have little intention of storing their wines for use as potential investment.

The wines on offer all came from the leading vineyards and vintages of Bordeaux and was carried out by the Beijing Poly International Auction Co – who used the services of well known French fine wine authority Claude Maratier for the selection of wines.

There were 131 lots in total, highlights among which were two single bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild from the fabled 1982 vintage, which achieved a sale price of nearly £6,750, quadrupling their estimate.

Also available were a presentation case consisting of two bottles each of Chateau Pétrus, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Haut-Brion, all from the classic 2000 vintage. Incredibly this had been estimated to fetch approximately £1,650 but actually sold for £18,500 approx.

Xinhua, the Chinese state-sponsored news agency, reported that M. Maratier was ‘very satisfied’ with the outcome and would be happy to work with Poly on further fine wine auctions.

According to Ma Zhefei, who oversaw the auction on behalf of Poly, almost all the buyers at auction have stated they wish to drink the purchased wines and were not buying for investment.

The view here at Provenance is that this would appear to be true by the very nature of the fact that most of the wines on offer seemed to be presentation cases or odd bottles of choice wines; certainly not a large presence “standard lot sizes” i.e. 12 bottle, unbvroken original wooden cases.

If Chinese interest is mainly driven by drinkers, this may have a significant impact on the demand put upon the world’s leading investment-calibre wines, but it is too early just yet to tell exactly the scale of such impact on fine wine pricing.

The abolition of high import taxes in Hong Kong has led the increasing number of domestic Chinese fine wine enthusiasts to leave the mainland to extend their collections.

Poly intend to organise further auctions in their Spring/Summer auction seasons because quite simply, once more according to Ma Zhefei, “The demand is there.”


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