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Wine sales at the largest wine auction houses are still booming, even though the starting price of almost all wines fell by about 30% at the beginning of 2009. However, this is an important aspect for new buyers and investors to be able to continue enjoying wine or to buy one or the other blue chip as a value investment after all. Considering that the prices of cult wines soared by up to 200% from 2005 to 2008, the current price drop is more of a market correction than a cause for panic. For, as almost all auction houses confirm to me, the number of lots sold is increasing and the prices of the coveted bottles are rising again.

Some facts about wine auctions from the past year:

eBay: Gourmet / Wines, or Champagne category.

  • On eBay Austria wine was sold every 37 minutes in 2008, on eBay Germany every 2 minutes.
  • On eBay Austria, the most expensive bottle of wine was a Château Mouton Rothschild 1946 for 5,061 euros.
  • The most expensive wine on eBay Germany was a Romanee Conti 2005 from the Domaine of the same name for 7,200 euros. Last auction price for this wine was 7.990 Euro on 24.03.2009!
  • The most expensive single bottle ever sold on eBay was an Imperiale (6.0 l) PETRUS 2000 on eBay France in 2006. The bottle went over the virtual counter for 13,250 Euros.
  • The most expensive lot ever sold on eBay was a case (12 bottles) of Chateau LATOUR 1961 for 38,000 euros on eBay France.
  • The trading volume of eBay - the value of goods and services successfully traded on eBay - amounted to 59.649 billion US dollars worldwide in 2008. Detailed information on wine sales only is not available.

Koppe & Partner Wine Auctions

  • Most expensive single bottle: Mouton 1945 at 5.300 Euro on 06.12.2008
  • Most expensive large bottle: Roederer Cristal 1990 Methusalem (6,0 l) changed hands for 15.000 Euro on 26.01.2008
  • Annual volume of online auctions: 600,000 euros
  • Annual volume of face-to-face auctions. 6 million euros
  • Koppe & Partner have also conducted auctions at the Palais Coburg in Vienna.

Munich Wine Company wine auctions

  • The most expensive lot at the Munich Wine Company was a 12-bottle OHK Lafite Rothschild 2000, which sold for 10,900 euros at an auction in July 2008.
  • The most expensive single bottle was a Lafite Rothschild 1870. This very rare, old bottle was knocked down at 5.500 Euro.
  • The most expensive large bottle was a double magnum (3.0 l) with Austrian participation. The cult winemaker Manfred Krankl and his winery "Sine Qua Non" produce top wines in California. "The Marauder 1999" a Syrah fetched 4,000 Euros in April 2008.
  • The annual volume of all auctions in 2008 was 2.24 million euros (800,000 online auctions + 1.44 million presence auctions) Sotheby's (London)
  • The wine auctions at Sotheby's in London brought in an annual turnover of 12.1 million pounds (approx. 13 million euros).
  • The most expensive lot and at the same time the most expensive single bottle was a Romanée Conti 1988 in the Methusalem (6.0 l) at 25,300 pounds. Despite the current sharp drop in the exchange rate, this is still around 28,000 euros.
  • The auction house had a highlight in April 2008 with a lot of a 136-bottle vertical from Chateau D'Yquem which sold for an incredible 368,000 pounds (approx. 400,000 euros).
  • The worldwide operating auction house recorded a total turnover of 5.3 billion dollars (approx. 4 billion euros) in 2008.

Steinfels Wine Auctions (Zurich)

  • Annual turnover achieved in 2008: 5,233,827 Swiss francs (approx. 3.4 million euros)
  • Most expensive single bottle: Château d'Yquem Imperiale 1901, sfr. 30.000.-, sold on 13 September 2008
  • A 12-bottle case, Château Lafite-Rothschild, 1982 for sfr. 29.500.- on 19 April 2008

My tip: see wine as a drink and an investment in equal measure - and buy now. You probably won't get the top wines of past vintages as cheaply as in 2009. There are enough examples from the past. Unlike many products and brands, the best wines in the world have always been produced in roughly equal quantities. Paintings by the most famous painters will always have their price. So will most cult wines.

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