A guide to wine auctions in Hong Kong

We spoke to wine experts about the growing trend for prestige wine auctions in Hong Kong and China.

In recent years, the number of wine enthusiasts has increased in mainland China, where more and more people enjoy taking the time to share a great bottle with friends. As they gain experience trying different wines from around the world, their palate also becomes more sophisticated.

Gradually, these aficionados learn the subtle differences and surprises between wines produced in different years. Once they understand what to look for, and what they love about certain labels, they will be able to narrow their choices from the vast selection and discover their favourite type and year. As the passion for wine keeps growing in China, so does the response at wine auctions. Collectors see these as a great place to get their hands on the best labels. But they are not alone, as important investors are also keeping an eye on rare wines as profitable items.

To find out more about this growing trend we spoke to wine experts based in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, Crown Wine Cellars’ Mr. Gregory De ‘Eb explains, “Nowadays, investors have great acumen. Before an auction, they spend time researching just how much potential a certain label has, before deciding whether to invest or not.”

He says that wines for investment are realistic and practical, just like one’s spouse. And wines for one’s personal enjoyment is like a romantic lover, for whom one takes risks without thinking of the consequences. This analogy describes the difference between the motivations for which one acquires a premium label. Mr. De ‘Eb points out that Crown Wine Cellar’s location used to be a World War II bunker which was converted into an internationally-recognized wine cellar. For more information, please go to www.crownwinecellars.com

Charles Curtis, Master of Wine, Christie’s, also explained what to look for in a wine, “When collecting premium wine, the first thing that Chinese collectors should look for is quality and year. When they first start out collecting, they usually acquire labels that are several years apart. Current trends show that wines from recent years – from 1982 onward for example – are in great demand. However, as time goes on, I believe more and more collectors will start to appreciate the rare wines from before World War II, and the mature ones from 1961 to 1982.”

In September, Christie’s Hong Kong presented a collection of premium rare wines from SK Networks Collection. The realised price for most wines exceeded their estimates. With buyers coming from Asia and around the world, the response was tremendous. At 6.2 million USD (which was 48.13 million HKD), the auction’s total sale was twice its estimate. It was the biggest wine auction in the history of Christie’s Hong Kong, and was proof that the demand for rare wine was growing.

With the aim of attracting more wine enthusiasts, auctions on November 26 and 27 in Hong Kong presented 144 bottles of Krug Champagne from 20 different years, 12 bottles of 1982 Château Lafite-Rothschild in their original wooden box, and a dozen bottles of 2005 Château Latour also in their original box.

If you are intestested to start your own wine collection, contact Christie’s Hong Kong (+852 2760 1766, www.christies.com).