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Petrus collection helps Sotheby’s auction hit $9.3m sales in US

Petrus 1961, part of the ‘Monumental Cellar’ auction by Sotheby’s in September 2023.

Sotheby’s said sales from its ‘Monumental Cellar’ auction on 7 September hit $9.3m, its second highest total on record in the US, behind the sale of William I. Koch’s cellar in 2016 for $21.8m.

It’s been a relatively subdued year for the fine wine secondary market, with some data pointing to falling prices following a strong period of growth, yet the Sotheby’s sale offers further evidence that buyers have not entirely disappeared.  

It said its US wine and spirits division has achieved sales of $30m in 2023 so far, which is up 25% year-on-year as the autumn auction season gets underway.  

The single-owner ‘Monumental Cellar’ sale featured what Sotheby’s described as a ‘century of Petrus’, spanning vintages from 1924 to 2015, as well as other Bordeaux wines in large formats.

This included a five-litre jeroboam of one of the 20th century’s most lauded wines, Château Latour 1961, which sold for $50,000, including buyer’s premium, equalling its pre-sale high estimate. 

Burgundy was well-represented, too, and the auction’s highest prices were achieved by the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), a regular occurrence given their relative scarcity and allure.

Top lot was five bottles of DRC, Romanée-Conti 1999, which fetched $275,000, including buyer’s premium, albeit the final price was towards the lower end of the pre-sale estimate range ($260,000 to $350,000).

Five bottles of the same wine’s 1966 vintage fetched $93,750 (estimate: $45,000 – $65,000). 

Petrus made up a big proportion of the Bordeaux part of the collection. The oldest Petrus in the sale was a lot featuring two bottles of the 1924 vintage, which sold for $8,125, including buyer’s premium (high e: $7,000). 

Other highlights included:  

Two bottles of Petrus 1947 sold for $25,000, more than three times above the pre-sale high estimate.
Three magnums of Petrus 1959 fetched $40,000 | estimate $20,000 – $28,000
Twelve bottles of Petrus 1961 fetched $118,750, including buyer’s premium (pre-sale estimate $85,000 to $120,000)
One double magnum of Petrus 1998 fetched $25,000 | estimate $13,000 – $18,000
One double magnum of Petrus 2015 fetched $22,500 | estimate $14,000 – $20,000

Among the large-format wines in the auction, Bordeaux’s famous 1982 vintage commanded significant attention. Several lots featured six-litre Imperials of 1982-vintage wine from top estates.

These included an Imperial of Château Lafite Rothschild 1982, which sold for $22,500 (estimate $19,000 – $26,000).

Two Imperials of Latour 1982 each fetched $20,000, equalling their pre-sale high estimates, and an Imperial of Figeac 1982 sold for $9,375 (estimate $4,000 – $5,500).

Coming soon from Decanter: Bordeaux’s highly prized 1982 vintage will be featured in the October 2023 issue of Decanter magazine

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