Looking back over 2018, it is clear that the wine auction market is in a very healthy position. Recent years have seen a remarkable rise in Burgundy prices, primarily driven by the Asian market. Despite voices saying that it is a bubble and prices will fall, prices realised for wines from illustrious domaines such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Henri Jayer and Armand Rousseau have risen inexorably. This was amply illustrated the record breaking Henri Jayer sale in Geneva and sale of the Robert Drouhin DRC collection in New York in the autumn.
Fine Bordeaux still makes up the vast majority of wines offered in auction. The market remains solid for these wines – prices strengthened slightly over the course of the year but we remain along way from the market frenzy of 2010 and 2011.
Away from the international auction world with its eye-watering prices, the local wine auction market is also buoyant. The UK has a large base of private buyers looking for mature wines ranging from single bottles to full cases. Vintage Champagne, vintage Port and Madeira as well as rare Spirits perform particularly well which is also a testament to the reach of the online auction platforms which connect this buyers with the smaller auction houses.
Despite the remarkable prices achieved by rare Burgundy, the real star of 2018 has been single malt whisky and one brand in particular: The Macallan. The world record for the most expensive bottle ever sold was broken twice last year – in Hong Kong in May one of the twelve bottles of the 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami ever made sold for £814,000. This was surpassed in November in London when a unique bottle of 1926 Macallan with a hand painted bottle by Irish artist Michael Dillon sold for £1.2 million. Bottles of the The Macallan 18 Year Old that were distilled in the 1960s and 1970s regularly sell for over £2000, which represents a pretty good return considering they were selling for under £50 in shops 20 years ago.
Trends for 2019? It is always difficult to try and predict the next big thing whether it be a wine region or particular producer. The Rhone Valley does look undervalued, although that has been the case for some years. The quality of the wines cannot be doubted so it is surely only a matter of time before the top wines from Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and Chateauneuf-du-Pape become as contested as their Burgundian counterparts. The whisky market should also remain as strong as in 2018 so look out for unopened bottles in your drinks cabinets as they may well be surprisingly valuable.
Whatever may transpire this year, Truman Ward look forward to welcoming you to our wine auctions. We will be offering a wide range of wines and spirits ranging from traditional auction staples such as claret to esoterica from the world of spirits and liqueurs. Sales take place quarterly and we are always available for a complimentary valuation of any bottles you may have.