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Wine Spectator Auction Index Slips in Fourth Quarter of 2011

January 10, 2012

The Wine Spectator Auction Index, which tracks sales at fine wine auctions in the United States, fell from 341.27 points in the third quarter of 2011 to 333.50 in the fourth quarter, a decrease of 2.28%. This was the index’s third quarterly decline for the year.

A total of 16,000 lots went on the block domestically in the fourth quarter of 2011, reaching an aggregate value of $47 million. That equates to an average price per lot of $2,964, down from $3,516 in the same period last year. Average percent-sold rates, however, remained at a healthy 95%, indicating that demand for fine and rare wine remains strong.

One reason for the fourth-quarter drop was the decline in price of first-growth Bordeaux, which had previously enjoyed dramatic growth. Asian collectors began to shift their focus to rare Burgundies and became more price sensitive.

Classified Bordeaux from the 1982 vintage were down 7.2%. The 2000 vintage fell 9.7%, and 1995 lost 5.3%. Other major regions also weakened. As a category, premium California blue-chips and cult wines were both down 2%. Vintage Port fell 1.5%, and Italian estate bottlings dropped 2.6%. In contrast, prices for Rhône reds rose 7%.

Overall, premium red Burgundies gained 4%, and select labels like Domaine Leroy Romanée St.-Vivant 1999 and Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 1985 rose 65% and 64% respectively to average $1,573 and $1,920 per bottle.

 

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