Langton’s has begun the first quarter of 2013 with solid sales. With the summer holidays in full swing, buyer participation was slightly lower in the early part of the quarter, but a number of special interest auctions together with the annual sale on the Exchange helped to maintain momentum in the market.
With each passing quarter, the importance and evolution of the imported wine market is increasingly evident with Bordeaux well & truly back in business. Buoyed by the two stellar vintages of 2009 & 2010, demand and interest in Bordeaux is riding high. January’s special Bordeaux only auction comprising over 1100 lots of classified growth claret & top Sauternes recorded strong results with a magnum of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1995 achieving $2185, and a magnum of Chateau Margaux 1986 attaining $2094. A rare magnum of Chateau Haut Brion Blanc 1995 was also sold for $1725.
The sheer strength of price – particularly for the recently arrived wines from 2009 has made top vintages of Bordeaux from the 1980’s and 1990’s appear to be excellent value. These wines are fully mature and are drinking beautifully, yet are selling for far less than their current vintage counterparts. A key example of this phenomenon is the first quarter sales result for 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Although 1982 is a very comparable vintage to 2009 in terms of reputation and vintage conditions, a bottle of the 1982 vintage of Chateau Mouton Rothschild achieved $1309, whilst a bottle of the same wine from the 2009 vintage sold for $2300. For the moment the strength of the 2009 prices do not appear to be pushing the value of older wines up, but for how long can this be the case? With the 2012 en-primeur campaign set to launch in April and the lauded 2010 wines set to arrive on our shores later in the year, there will be increased upward pressure on classified growth prices. In the meantime eager Australian collectors with a keen eye for value may be able to snap up some terrific fully mature Bordeaux at a fraction of their current vintage value.
Burgundy was also in the spotlight this quarter with a special Burgundy focus auction held in early March. Some terrific results were recorded including a magnum of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Bonnes-Mares 1990 achieving $1725 and bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Richebourg 1993 attaining $1495. The highlight of the sale was without doubt a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti 1993 selling for a remarkable $8281.
Once again the breathtaking prices of the heralded 2009 vintage were apparent with a bottle of Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin 2009 reaching a new record of $1150 and a bottle of DRC Grands-Echezeaux 2009 achieving $2300. White Burgundy from the generous 2009 vintage was also in demand with a bottle of J.F Coche-Dury Les Enseigneres Puligy-Montrachet 2009 fetching $575.
Other imported wine highlights of the quarter included several vintage Champagnes with a bottle of Salon S Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, Champagne 1983 – achieving $851, and a magnum of Krug Vintage Brut 1996 reaching $952. A Nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Brut was also sold for $1904, a remarkable price for an impressive 15 litres of Champagne!
Another interesting highlight of the quarter was the sale of three super premium Napa Valley reds including a bottle of Opus One 1992 reaching $348, cult favourite Sine Qua Non A Shot In The Dark Syrah 2006 from California’s Central Coast achieving $448 and a magnum of Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 1995 selling for $803. Although the market for American wines in Australia is very tiny, the strong Australian dollar may encourage in the coming few years a greater presence of American wines in both the primary and secondary wine markets, an interesting trend worth watching.
Penfolds Grange – an important market indicator, has achieved relatively stable prices and good clearance rates but little forward price movement in the first quarter of 2013. This may be partly due to sluggish demand for the current vintage 2007 in the retail market. The much anticipated 2008 vintage may alter the current market perception of Grange, when it is released in early May. The strength of the 2008 vintage together with an expected jump in the release price is likely to reignite interest and demand for this icon of Australian wine, with the flow on effects expected to be seen in the secondary market as the year unfolds. In the meantime the rare Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cabenet continues to track well at auction with a magnum of the 2004 selling for $1375, and a single bottle of the 2004 achieving $695.
Australian sales results in the first quarter saw a return to the safe haven of blue chip Classified wine. Auction highlights included a set of 10 magnums of Moss Wood Cabernet (1991-2000)selling for $3255 and a magnum of Three Rivers Shiraz 1993 achiving $1840. Other highlights included a 6 bottle set of Noon reserve Shiraz fetching $735. Henschke Hill of Grace which often experiences a push pull effect with Grange saw bullish results for a bottle of the 1996 selling for $632.
Interest in Seppelt 100 Year Old Para port was also demonstrated with a bottle of Seppelt 100 Year Old Para Tawny 1900 (half bottle) acheiving $1380 and a half bottle of the ultra-rare 1899 vintage tawany achiving $1434. Portuguese port also featured in our fortified and spirits sale held in February with a bottle of esteemed estate Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 1997 achieving $1150. In the same sale, ultra premium Cognac and rare rum also fared well with a bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII, Grande Champagne Cognac NV attaining $2072 and local favourite rare Bundaberg Gold Rum achieving $1265.
At the time of writing we are mid-way through March with several sales still to take place before the end of the quarter. Overall market sentiment is positive. A surge in interest in imported wine is for the moment eclipsing demand for blue chip Australian wine, but this trend is likely to reverse later in the year, with a number of exciting releases on the primary market likely to drive secondary market demand up particularly for Classified wines. There are many exciting auctions and events planned for the year to mark Langton’s 25th anniversary, including an auction dedicated to Trophy winners and a special 90’s only auction happening in tandem with the regular auction calendar. Our annual and eagerly awaited Penfolds auction will also take place at the end of June. Be sure to check out our website www.langtons.com.au for all the latest auction results and updates on upcoming events .
*All prices quoted are inclusive of buyers premium