After climbing steadily over the previous three years, 2012 was not a great one for the wine auction market. Sales of fine and rare wine slumped 19 percent last year, according to Wine Spectator, with worldwide revenues falling from $478 million in 2011 to $389 million last year. However, the details reveal a more nuanced picture, with the numbers coming out of Hong Kong far more grim than those from the United States.
According to the report, auction revenues were down 10 percent in the U.S. and a full 32 percent in Hong Kong. Richard Harvey, the senior international director of wine at Bonhams, attributed the drop in revenues to decreasing prices for Bordeaux wines, particularly Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which was wildly popular in China for a short period before demand cooled in late 2011.
There is, of course, an argument to be made that the wine market is not slumping, but rather stabilizing. President of Sotheby’s Wine Jamie Ritchie told Wine Spectator that the Bordeaux prices from 2012 were “more realistic,” and that he saw interest diversifying last year.
The big sales of 2013 kick off on January 25 and 26, when Acker, Merrall, & Condit holds its fine and rare wine auction in Hong Kong. The sale will include a number of exceptionally rare Burgundies.
— Shane Ferro
(Photo via Acker, Merrall, & Condit)