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Into the red

The first fine wine of the year has been sold at three auctions in Hong Kong – events watched closely by investors for an idea of prices in 2012.

Signs of a softening market have been there for a while, with fine wine exchange Liv-Ex reporting that prices of the top 100 traded wines (95% of which are Bordeaux) fell by a quarter between June and December last year.

In fact, the boom in Bordeaux is generally thought to be over, and there are fears that a number of vintages will experience further price drops this year.

But the evidence from Hong Kong was mixed. The older first-growths sold reasonably well. Then again, lots of younger vintages went unsold (such as a lot consisting of three cases of Mouton Rothschild 2005 as well as another of eight cases of Latour 2003).

Wine merchants will have been cheered by better news for Burgundy, especially DRC Romanee Conti, which seems to be the new favourite among Chinese wine buffs.

Accordingly, the most expensive lot at this week’s Sotheby’s sale was a 12-bottle case of 1990 DRC that sold for HK$1.84 million, while at the Acker Merrill & Condit auction a case of 1985 DRC was the top bid, costing HK$1.46 million.


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