Unsold this week: One third of lots at Christie’s International’s Wine Auction in Hong Kong

(More wine news on www.vitabella.fr) Hong Kong may start looking twice at fine wine prices...From Saturday to Sunday, 9 to 10 April, 2011, Christie's International offered a "Tour of Bordeaux" with exceptional Wines from The SK Networks Collection and a "Superb Collection of Rare Pétrus and Mature DRC".

This auction of "Finest & Rarest Wines" went unsold for around one-third of total lots. For the first time, in a recent period, unsold lots of fine wines reached a level which may signal a downturn in the chinese buyers' appetite. Is it a sign that the chinese market is giving a break to the spectacular strong demand recorded over the last 2 years? Or are chinese buyers becoming more selective? Or is it a first sign that luxury in china is entering a new era? In fact, in the world's second largest luxury goods market, a new ban on some luxury themes in outdoor advertising takes effect from April 15th, according to an announcement on the website of Beijing's industry and commerce bureau.This move could prove authorities' willingness to have more control on luxury products' promotion and consumption in order to avoid showiness which could arouse popular resentment. Social stability may be at stake in this new policy of controlling more strictly the promotion of luxury goods. Fine wines are entering this category and chinese buyers may have already anticipated a move which could have an impact in the future consumption of expensive wines. At this stage, the trend is not clear but scrutinizing next auctions' results should give more insights on which direction the market takes.

David Elswood, Head of Christie's International Wine Department, said, “The sales in Hong Kong over the two days of 9 and 10 April demonstrate a growing diversification in Asian buyers’ collecting tastes and buying habits. In addition, the New York sales on April 9th show a healthy comeback for the U.S. market. Together these overall results prove that demand for wines of the highest quality and provenance remains very strong around the world, and Asia remains a fast-moving and increasingly sophisticated market.

Charles Curtis, MW, Head of Wine for Asia at Christie's, commented, “Our sale on April 9th and 10th saw continued growth in demand for older vintages, such as the superb collection of 60 years of Château Mouton-Rothschild from 1945 to 2005 (estimate: HK$400-600,000, sold HK$960,000), and an emerging interesting in the rarest Burgundies, in particular vintages from Romanée-Conti and La Tâche. While Asian buying made up the majority of our top lots, the extensive worldwide bidding, especially for the very top end of the spectrum, signals a welcome recovery of the global wine market and the attraction of Christie's Hong Kong wine sales as an important platform for international buyers to acquire the finest and rarest wines.”(More wine news on www.vitabella.fr)


The future of Bordeaux en Primeur: Are you ready to taste buds and score them?

(More wine news on www.vitabella.fr) Bordeaux Primeurs 2010 was an exciting time for those who took part to this event. Great dinners as usual with Chateau Gruaud Larose offering the most unbelievable experience to a few privileged ones with a vertical tasting from 2001 down to 1831 (yes, you read it right, we are talking here about wines from the nineteenth century). As Jeannie Cho Lee, a famous asian journalist, mentionned it, vintage 1921 was magnificent and 1961 gorgeous.

We also tasted great 2010s. A splendid range at Chateau Latour (Pauillac, Forts de Latour, Grand vin de Chateau Latour): this year, the gradual increase was so evident and reached such a high level! Also a delicate Chateau Margaux, with a "low level" of alcohol for the vintage (13.5% compared to the regular 14.5%), certainly due to a concern with the sensation of alcohol that we can feel in their 2006 and 2007. A very elegant Chateau Mouton Rothschild that may have reached, this year, the highest level of precision and complexity in a different style from precedent vintages (a more delicate and voluptuous style). There are many great wines inculding chateau Montrose, which is so classic and so "Montrose" that you wonder why they do not make such a wine every year. The answer is quite evident: 2010 is both exceptional and singular.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2010 were also exciting as a "polemical" point was suddenly raised by some. When should samples be tasted? How should this tasting be organized? Can some privileged ones taste the wines before others? Should an organization define an "embargo" date before which wine critics can not disclose any score?

In fact, what we see now is a race to be the first to disclose wine scores. First problem is that wine is a natural product and, as such, it needs time to reveal itself. It was particularly clear for 2010s and many chateaux declared they would have preferred to have those wines tasted at vinexpo in June. Second problem is that it is difficult to avoid some persons to set up meetings with chateau owners at a very early stage to write and score the new vintage. This situation, which was recently described, analyzed and criticized by some renowned jopurnalists reminds me of a situation, ten years ago, when financial analysts, after having pushed to get public companies publish their earnings on a quarterly basis, were starting dreaming of a monthly earning report. Dreadful! A nonsense if you consider that an analysis (here I am talking about shares as well as fine wines) should be supported by a long-term view to avoid making a decision too fast. Such a race to score fine wines at an early stage could simply lead us to a scenario like this one:

- First score at harvest time: critics would give scores to the grapes they tasted.

- Second score for juices: How promising are the juices? Splendid..let's go for a 99 points!

- Third score after fermentations.

- Fourth score when blend is done: the structure of the wine would be scored.

- Fifth score : Right before bottling the wine.

- Sixth score: The wine is released, offered on the market. Let's tatste it and score it!

At this point, if someone follows this score assessment model (let's call this person "Speedy Bob") it would be difficult to imagine another wine critic who could deliver more detailed scores at an earlier stage. Difficult but not impossible...Anyone ready to taste buds and score them? (More wine news on www.vitabella.fr)