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Bumper Weekend For U.S. Wine Auctions

L to R: 2009 Petrus, Hart Davis Hart's highest-priced lot; Jeff Zacharia of Zachys; 2 bottles of 1934 DRC Richebourg sold for $128,625
© HDH/AFP/Zachys | L to R: 2009 Petrus, Hart Davis Hart's highest-priced lot; Jeff Zacharia of Zachys; 2 bottles of 1934 DRC Richebourg sold for $128,625
Auction results suggest the U.S. is developing a greater appetite for fine wines.

U.S. auction houses are feeling flush after a swathe of sales raised more than $16 million in the last four days.

Kicking off a long weekend of auctions across North America, Sotheby's started its two-day sale on Friday, with wines from the private collection of Arkansas billionaire Warren A. Stephens. The average lot value of $6,757 was “among the highest ever in a New York wine sale,” according to Sotheby’s auctioneer and CEO Wine Americas and Asia, Jamie Ritchie. Over two days, the auction house realized more than $3.9 million in New York, reflecting strong demand at the start of the fall season.

Duncan Sterling, head of New York wine auctions at Sotheby’s, added: “Our global wine auction total for September of $10.3 million is well up on the 2012 equivalent, demonstrating that the market for fine wines continues to expand.”

Staying on the East Coast, Zachys kicked off its fall season at the weekend. Rare older bottles were particularly coveted: a two-bottle lot of 1934 DRC Richebourg was purchased by a phone bidder for $128,625 (inclusive of 22.5% buyer’s premium), obliterating the $18,000–$28,000 that was anticipated. Meanwhile, eight bottles of 1947 Château L’Evangile sold for $245,000 compared to the pre-sale high estimate of $20,000. Similarly, four bottles of 1945 Château Latour fetched $61,250 – more than five times the high estimate.

Interest in Napa’s biggest names appears to be soaring, judging by the results of Zachys' direct-from-cellar sale of Schrader wines. Six bottles of its CCS Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2007 vintage sold for $5,500.

Zachys president Jeff Zacharia said: “I have been in the auction business for 18 years and have been at more than 150 auctions, and I can unequivocally say that this sale was the best I have ever been at.”

Chicago-based Hart Davis Hart raised more than $5 million at its Saturday auction. While Pétrus once again attracted the highest prices, and three 12-bottle lots of 1982 Lafite occupied three of the five highest-value spots, the most interesting performances came from Burgundy beyond DRC.

Three 12-bottle lots of Domaine Dujac dating back to 1990 smashed their pre-auction estimates and set new all-time highs. The domaine’s 1990 Clos St.-Denis fetched $22,702 (inclusive of 19.5 percent buyer’s premium), while the 1990 Bonnes-Mares went under the hammer at $23,900 – both world record prices.

A case of 1996 Chambertin by Armand Rousseau also reached new heights, selling for $19,120. There was also strong demand for Mugnier’s Musigny, with two lots from the 1993 vintage exceeding all expectations.

The west coast did not miss out on the weekend’s fine-wine auction action, with Bonhams holding a sale in San Francisco that raised $1.2 million. The top lot was a 12-bottle case of 1982 Latour, which fetched $16,660.

Related story:

This Week at Auction: DRC Dominant

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