Christie’s Expert: Buying Haute Wine At Auction

Christie's wine auction in action. Photos: Courtesy of Christie's.
Christie’s wine auction in action. Photos: Courtesy of Christie’s.

Wine auctions afford the chance to buy some of the greatest vintages in the world not available at retail. Christie’s online wine auction, which began on September 13th and continues through the 27th, is focusing on top European classics, with the  benchmark regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux dominating the sale. Highlights include a selection of wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the 1950s and 1960s as well as Bordeaux with top vintages, including 1982 and 2000.from such châteaux, as Haut-Brion, Margaux and Cheval Blanc  We caught up with Per Holmberg, Vice President and head of wine sales at Christie’s International in New York for advice on how to buy wine at auction and to talk about buying trends he’s seeing in the market this year.

Are you finding a younger customer base for Burgundies either in Europe or the US?

Yes. We have recently experienced increased demand, specifically in the US from younger clients who are keen on discovering and collecting rare Burgundy. They are attracted to more esoteric wines (Jura, Loire valley) that require a bit of diligent digging to source.

Fine wine boasts one of the best performing asset classes of the last 20 years. Do you believe it will continue to appreciate at the same rate in the next five years? If so, what are the factors you believe will contribute to this?

Classic chateaux will always appreciate and continue to perform well in the market. The stellar vintages will always have prices to match their high quality.

RE Château Haut-Brion 1985

Which wines from which chateaux have appreciated the most in the last several years?

Pétrus is arguably among the most coveted and age-worthy acquisitions along with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Château Latour. 

Which are the best investment-grade wines?

Classic blue-chip Bordeaux and limited production Burgundy from the top domaines like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Christie’s Wine Specialist, Edwin Vos, recently shared great insight into a span of Burgundy vintages, starting from the 19th century: Burgundy Vintages

For beginning wine investors/collectors–what sort of time horizon should they be looking at to see their holdings appreciate?

This is the million-dollar question when it comes to wine! A very basic benchmark would span five to fifteen years. That said, when approaching wine collecting, the buyer needs to study and assess various sources, like industry critics, in order to make educated decisions on what to buy based on market indications.  If you invest wisely, you will surely experience a rich return.

REDomaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 1967

Christie’s has Specialists picks for their wine auctions. Can you share what they may be for the current September auction?

Absolutely, we have curated a nice selection that spans various regions, producers, and vintages for this online auction. Highlights (see below*) include wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as Bordeaux from châteaux Haut Brion, Margaux, and Cheval Blanc with a variety of acclaimed vintages, including 1982 and 2000. We are also offering spirits that span covetable Armagnac, American Whiskey, Cognac and more.

*Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1967Grand Cru, Côte de Nuits; 6 bottles per lot: $8,000-$9,500

Château de Laubade, Armagnac, Special Reserve Bas Armagnac;12 bottles per lot: $1,300-$1,800

Château Haut-Brion 1985 Pessac (Graves), 1er cru classé;12 bottles per lot:  $4,000-$6,000

Castello dei Rampolla, Sammarco 1995, Tuscany; 24 bottles per lot: $800-$1,000

Château Cheval-Blanc 2000 Saint-Emilion, 1er grand cru classé; 12 bottles per lot: $7,000-$9,000