Bidder up: Notes from a Bordeaux-heavy wine auction in Beijing

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By Jim Boyce

I went to a wine auction in Beijing on Saturday because: a) fellow Grape Wall guy Nicolas Carre invited me, b) the venue, Zun Club near Workers Stadium, is across the street from my apartment, and c) I have not attended such a sale before. This one was organized by magazine Wine World, or at least the company that publishes it, and lasted about three hours. There were about 100 to 120 attendess, although only a small minority made any bids, which were projected on a screen in RMB, Euros and Pounds — the USD function did not seem to be working.

There were one or two bids for many of the 90-plus lots and several people told me prices for longstanding favorite Lafite Rothschild were low. A case of 1982 Lafite went slightly above the minimum of rmb560,000, still higher than the rmb436,000 listed on the Bordeaux Index, though law-abiding continental China residents would face tariffs and duties of nearly 50 percent if they wanted to bring it in — unless they did it two bottles at a time duty-free.

Anyway, I don’t follow wine auctions closely, so I have no idea if big bidders were present or not (or even whether some bids were attempts to build momentum), if the products were attractive enough, etc, so no grand statements about this event. Just wanted to share some winning bids I recorded on Saturday when I wasn’t shooting the breeze with other attendees who forget their duffel bags of cash at home (for exact bids, it’s best to contact the auction company).

A bottle of 1958 Chateau Lafite Rothschild went for rmb18,000 (minimum bid 15,000 / listed market rate 40,000), while three bottles of 1966 Lafite went for rmb17,000, rmb16,000 and rmb15,000 respectively (rmb15,000 / rmb40,000). A 12-bottle case of 1973 Lafite went for 130,000 (115,000 / 200,000). DRC Romanee-Conti 1969, 1974, 1980 and 1982 sold for around the minimum bids of rmb70,000 to rmb80,000 per bottle.

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