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Auctions boom in the Big Apple

Published:  23 July, 2008

For the wine auction market 2006 was a vintage year, with global sales of fine and rare wines fetching $241 million. This was a whopping 45% increase on 2005, thanks to the huge revenues from the US, which at over $167m were more than four times UK sales.

Andrew Caillard MW of Langton's says: The wine auction market underpins the entire trade in fine wine. In the context of the commercial wine market, it represents a micro-percentage of sales, but, in the growing fine wine market, it is a profoundly important barometer. This is the arena where bull ultimately meets reality; where wine is stripped bare before an incredibly well-informed market. One-hit wonders (often over-hyped cult wines), speculative buying and other spikes are ultimately ironed out by time and long-term buyer sentiment.

The wine auction market plays both a lead and supporting role in the trade. Performance is a form of endorsement. However, the trade also uses auctions as a means of selling and buying stock. There is sometimes an uneasy stand-off between the auction and trade markets. The perceived uncertainty of outcomes, provenance as well as transparency of price realisations (auction prices are used by the trade as buying guides for private sales) are often used by brokers and their ilk as weapons of doubt.'