Hong Kong: The Wine Auction Capital of the World

After the Hong Kong government slashed the wine duty tax from 40% to zero back in February 2008, the world witnessed the growth of Hong Kong as the world’s biggest auction market for rare and fine wines, overtaking long established markets such as New York and London. Hong Kong now sells more fine and rare wines than London and New York put together, establishing it as the hub of wine auctions across the world.


This autumn witnessed first the Christie’s August wine sales, which included a 300 bottle collection of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild from 1981 to 2005- some worth up to HKD8.3 million, and 25 cases of Bordeaux first-growth wine which were expected to reap up to HKD4.5 million. With those prices, they were the most expensive single lot of wine auction this year- so far.


This September, however, has raised the bar in fine wines in Asia, starting with the Zachy’s auction on the 9thand 10th. This sale included a collection of Lafite Imperials from 1995-2003 and world-renowned label Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. Nonetheless, Acker Merrall & Condit was the real winner in the end. The world’s leading wine auctioneer and America’s oldest wine merchant showed its true colours with the star of the show: a rare full case of 1990 DRC Romanee-Conti setting a world record price of HKD2.31 million, along with more record breaking Burgundys- a case of 1996 DRC Romanee-Conti at HKD1,268,800 and HKD 1,171,200 for another of 1988 DRC Romanee-Conti. Bordeaux was also amongst the coveted, with standouts from Chateau Petrus, including two original cases of 1892, each selling for HKD536,800, an original wooden case of 1989 at HKD414,800 and six magnums of 2000 at HKD439,200. A full case of 1961 La Mission Haut Brion broke another world record for 1961- at a stunning HKD463,600. However, Lafite Rothschild was the real celebrity amongst the Bordeaux- fetching in total a spectacular HKD17million. Champagne, on the other hand, did not lose out next to these splendid contenders in a selection of the House of Salon, from the world’s greatest Champagne collector, Robert Rosania with record breaking sales of a bottle of 1955 Salon sold for HKD 46,360, twelve bottles of 1982 Salon at HKD78,080, six magnums of 1995 Salon at HKD36,600, three bottles of 1959 Salon at HKD87,840 and a bottle of 1966 Salon at HKD43,920. 


Sotheby’s later October wine sales would certainly give them a run for their money with their impressive collection- including the Ultimate Nine from Bordeaux- with legendary names, such as Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton, La Mission Haut Brion, Pretus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Yquem. These world renowned wineries showcased formidable specimens, such as ten cases of Lafite, with six bottles of 1982 and five cases of 2005, 20 cases of Latour with five cases of 2000 and 2003, and 15 cases of Margaux and Haut Brion from 2005. Other cellars in the auction did not disappoint- with one hundred and seventy lots of Chateau Lafite, 1986 to 2007, from two Rothschild family members that were previously unseen outside of the chateau. 


With these monumental increases in wine sales and leading Asian wine experts, we can see that there is only room to grow. “Our Asian customers are very knowledgeable and sophisticated… the mainland is just starting to discover the greatness”, states John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall Condit Companies. There’s no doubt about it- wine sales will only go up, up and up again. With Asia now being the cornerstone of the wine auction market, the appreciation and selection of fine wines can only grow. Happy bidding!


List of September/ October Auctions


Sept. 3: Christie’s, Hong Kong


Sept. 4: Christie’s, Hong Kong


Sept. 9/10: Zachys, Hong Kong


Sept. 16: Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong


Sept. 17: Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong 


Sept. 24/25: Spectrum, Hong Kong


Sept. 30: Sotheby’s, Hong Kong


Oct. 1/2: Sotheby’s, Hong Kong


Nov.4-5: Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong


Dec.9-10: Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong