Zachys kick started 2011 with the first auction of the year for Hong Kong last Saturday at the Mandarin Oriental. Breaking away from the Bordeaux frenzy, Zachys’ January auction has a special focus on great Californian wines. Asian Palate interviews Jeff Zacharia, President of Zachys Wine Auction, for his comments on the auction market in Hong Kong.
AP: Asian Palate JZ: Jeff Zacharia
AP: Zachys auctions has been very successful in HK over the past few years. Would you attribute this success to new mainland buyers/bidders, HK-based collectors or Asian regional buyers? Did the profile of the buyers surprise you?
JZ: Our success in HK has to do with how much excitement there is in Asia, overall, for fine wine and on the relationships we have build up with our customers over the past 20 years doing business there. The Mainland buyers have just added fuel to an already hot fire. What has surprised me with the profile of Asian buyers is how rapidly they are expanding beyond the Blue chip Bordeaux and Burgundys. They are now looking at top wines from all over France and the rest of the world.
AP: What are some of the surprisingly record-breaking sales that Zachys achieved in HK thus far? Why are they surprising to you?
JZ: The biggest surprise for us is how strong the blue chip wines, such as the First Growths, Jayer, DRC, etc., are selling. They were strong coming into this fall season and demand and prices just skyrocketed this fall. Our last sale was US$ 1 million dollars above the high estimate mainly because of these blue chip wines.
AP: What are some wines coming up at the Jan 8th auction that you think are under-valued (according to the given estimates)?
JZ: The high end California can be undervalued in Asia. There are some truly great wines coming out of California but they are not that well known in Asia. There is a wonderful amount of high end California wines in this sale.
AP: How would you differentiate Zachys auctions from the numerous other auctions in HK (e.g. philosphy of company, policies, etc)?
JZ: Zachys is a third generation wine business and our focus, from the beginning, has always been on Fine Wines; that is our love, that is our passion. What has been equally important for us is to provide excellent customer service. For 65 years our two passions have been Fine Wines and customer service.
AP: Can you offer any tips/advice for buyers on buying smart at auction?
JZ: It is best to come to the auction to buy your wines, study the auction catalog ahead of time so you are prepared to bid. But pay attention because there are always unexpected values that you might not have been thinking to buy but are selling for a very good price. Those are the really fun lots.
President, Zachys Wine Auctions
Jeff started with Zachys in 1983. Since then he has become Zachys renowned Bordeaux and Burgundy expert. Armed with incredible knowledge and passion for the wines of these regions (it does not hurt that he can speak fluent French) he has developed a relationship with the growers and winemakers that has enabled Zachys the position of being able to offer wines that are unsurpassed in quality and selection. He travels often to Bordeaux and Burgundy to taste new vintages, as well as to check on some of the older ones to make sure they are developing well and still to the caliber that Zachys represents.
Photo © Zachys 2011