Sotheby's upcoming July auction in Hong Kong is set to be a barometer of the fine and rare wine market, says its Head of Wine in Asia.

Sotheby’s Wine will present three sales in Hong Kong from July 5-7, with a combined pre-sale estimate of HK$120-169 million ( US$15-22 million), the first live auction for the auction house since the coronavirus pandemic.

The three sales will consist of two single-owner sales titled ‘The Summit’ and ‘Magnificent Bordeaux from the Cellar of Sir Dickson Poon’, in addition to ‘Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits’, totaling nearly 3,000 lots, according to the auction house.

The results if realized will be Hong Kong’s highest value wine auction result this year, at a time when virus outbreak had pushed more bidding online.

‘The Magnificent Bordeaux Sale’ will present a selection of wines from the private cellar of renowned international businessman, Sir Dickson Poon, who owns Harvey Nichols, ST Dupont, Dickson Watch & Jewellery. It will feature over 490 lots with a combined estimate in excess of HK$13 Million / US$1.7 Million.

Latour 1955 from The Magnificent Bordeaux Sale

‘The Summit, A Complete Cellar’ is Sotheby’s second highest estimated single-owner wine sale in Asia, which offers more than 1,500 lots of wines with a combined estimate in excess of HK$78 million / US$10 million.

The collection originates from the cellar of an American wine collector, and was assembled over three decades through the collector’s a deep passion for gastronomy, extensive travel, as well as the collector’s personal relationships with many wine producers, which granted him privileged access to some of the rarest and most exclusive wines in the world, according to the auction house.

‘The Summit’ boasts a star-studded collection of the finest Burgundies and Rhônes in rare large-formats spanning Burgundies (nearly 200 lots including 21 from DRC), Rhônes (56 lots led by the much sought-after Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin), Bordeaux (38 lots), Champagne (29 lots) and more, says Sotheby’s.

Barometer for fine wine market

Expectation for the auction is naturally running high, as it is the auction house’s first live auction since the coronavirus outbreak in late January, and the first after Hong Kong significantly relaxed social distancing rules.

However, with recession biting into Hong Kong after months of protests and coronavirus, it’s unclear if collectors will tighten up their wallet. “If you have rare wine, with great provenance, great story, which we haven’t see that much so far this year, there’s definitely still a demand,” says Bilbey when interviewed by Vino Joy News on the sideline of the preview tasting on Wednesday.

“It will be a real barometer of where the rare and fine wine market is. I am pretty confident,” he adds. The auction house leads its competitors in Hong Kong in terms of wine auction value achieved (US$59 million in 2019 v.s. second place Acker’s US$38.8 million), based on data published by Wine Spectator.

Its ‘Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits’ sale comprises over 790 lots estimated in excess of HK$28 million / US$3.5 Million.

Hong Kong already outranks New York or London in terms of wine auction value achieved based on data compiled from major auction houses by Wine Spectator. It generated US$160 million sales last year, just slightly ahead of New York’s US$157 million or London and Geneva’s combined US$55 million.

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