Chateau Latour rivals Chateau Lafite in massive Hong Kong auction
by Adam Lechmere (Sunday 29 May 2011)
Chateau Latour 'reigned supreme' in the words of Christie's as the auction house sold more than £4.6m of wine from the cellars of the chateau on Friday. Some of the prices raised eyebrows around the world. The BBC commented that the £140,940 paid for a six-magnum lot of the 1961 vintage would buy a three-bedroom house in many parts of the UK. During the eight-hour session 392 lots came under the hammer. All were taken direct from the cellars of the Bordeaux first-growth – this was Christie’s answer to the Sotheby’s Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sale of last year, in which record prices were paid, again in Hong Kong. All but one of the top ten lots at this Latour sale were from the 1961 vintage, and all went to an ‘Asian private’ buyer. The top three were identical six-magnum lots of 1961, and they went for well over double their high estimate of HK$850,000, or £66,000. Then there was a single (6-litre) impériale of 1961, which went for £131,544, again more than double its high estimate. ‘It would take someone earning the average UK wage more than five years to save up for the bottle’, the BBC commented on its website. A 12-bottle case of the 1945 then went for £122,148 (on a high estimate of £56,000), followed by cases and a jeroboam of 1961, all doubling the most Christie’s estimated they would fetch. A case of the 1982 case sold for £42,000 and an impériale of the same vintage fetched £44,000. More recent vintages also sold well: cases of bottles and magnums of 2009 went for £13-14,000, the 2008 fetched over £8,000 a case. The auction was notable for the number of larger-format bottles on sale: in the 1997 vintage, for example, there were only two cases of 75cl bottles – the rest were magnums, double magnums and jeroboams. David Elswood, international head of wine for Christie’s said, ‘The sale once again demonstrates the tremendous appeal of Château Latour and the strong demand for wines of the highest quality and rarity.’ The sale totalled HK$59,718,000 (£4,675,919) with 95% of sold lots over the high estimate and 14 lots over HK$1m (£77,862). As with the Sotheby’s Lafite sale, the fact the wines came direct from the cellars of Chateau Latour, and had not been moved since bottling, would have had a major impact on prices. ‘Quite simply, when you have perfect provenance and a squeeze on supply then it’s no surprise that prices reach these levels,’ Gary Boom of London wine merchant Bordeaux Index said.