Italian wine at auction 2007-2011

Table 1: Top 10 most expensive Italian lots sold at auction, 2007-2011
WineDate soldLot priceAuction house
Sassicaia 1985May 2010£19,420Acker Merrall & Condit (HK)
Barolo Monfortino Riserva
1955 (Jeroboam)
March 2007£18,279Zachys NY
Sassicaia 1985May 2007£18,060Zachys NY
Sassicaia 1985
(magnums)
May 2007£18,060Zachys NY
Sassicaia 1985April 2009£15,762Zachys NY
Barolo Monfortino Riserva
1952 (Jeroboam)
March 2007£15,232Acker Merrall & Condit (NY)
Sassicaia 1985April 2009£13,667Sotheby's HK
Sassicaia 1985March 2009£13,667Sotheby's HK
Sassicaia 1985November 2010£13,123Sotheby's NY
Sassicaia 1985November 2010£12,868Christie's HK
Source: Fabian Cobb

THERE WERE approximately 1,200 lots of Italian wine that came to auction in 2011 – less than 3% by volume of all auction lots last year. Nonetheless, for fans of some of the scarcer Italian wines this might be the only opportunity to acquire certain bottles. While a number of wines of Brunello di Montalcino come on to the market, because these are widely distributed among many producers including Biondi Santi, Frescobaldi, Giulio Salvioni, Livio Sassetti and Antinori, they do not form part of the sample used in this article.1.

Table 2: Top 10 most traded Italian wines at auction, 2007-2011, by value (all vintages)
WineLotsValue
Sassicaia1076£1,723,695
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia457£888,247
Ornellaia547£524,249
Barolo Monfortino Riserva203£469,439
Barolo Sperss322£409,988
Solaia379£390,671
Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo282£387,612
Barbaresco Sori Tildin243£351,579
Tignanello384£233,962
Gaja Barbaresco235£227,475
Source: Fabian Cobb

For the purposes of analysing producers, labels, values and vintages the list has been restricted to some top dozen or so which make up a major proportion of all auction lots. Amarone has also been excluded because lots are still very limited (Allegrini, Dal Forno and Quintarelli being the main producers) and the numbers of lots, especially after taking into account specific wines and vintages, are small.

The most expensive lot sold at auction during this period was a 12-bottle case of Sassicaia 1985 sold by Acker Merrall & Condit in Hong Kong in May 2010 for nearly £19,500, including buyer’s premium (see Table 1). Sassicaia 1985 is the most traded wine from the entire sample, 2007-2011, selling 166 lots worth almost £750,000 (see Table 4). Judging by the volume of lots handled by the top auction houses for Italian wines, these wines are not, as yet, so highly sought after in the Far East. Zachys (NY), Hart Davis Hart (Chicago), Sotheby’s (London), Acker Merrall & Condit (NY), Sotheby’s New York, Zachys Los Angeles, Christie’s New York and Christie’s London. Zachys and Hart Davis Hart lead the way by a considerable margin over the other houses. However, looking at the prices obtained generally, there can be considerable interest generated at any auction, at any venue. The flip side to this is that lots may be completely overlooked, for whatever reason, and prices can fluctuate considerably.

Table 3: Wines that have shown the largest price increases (Jan-Dec 2011)
Barolo Monfortino Riserva, Giacomo Conterno 199937%
Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva, Bruno Giacosa 198560%
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, Frescobaldi 200125%
Tignanello, Angelo Gaja 199740%
Barbaresco Sori Tildin, Angelo Gaja 199723%
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, Frescobaldi 199870%
Source: Fabian Cobb

CONCLUSION
Clearly, Italian wines have some way to go in the auction market but if the quality, quantity and availability of offers improves in 2012 there is every reason to suppose the trends will continue. Barolo has a considerable upside and Tuscan wines (for example, Tignanello with 127 hectares of vineyards), Sassicaia and Ornellaia will continue to confirm their place in the worldwide auction market. This is a market which is relatively undeveloped and for collectors or investors, Table 3 shows that picking the right wine could yield some handsome profits in the future.

This article first appeared in the May edition of the drinks business Hong Kong.

Table 4: Top 10 most traded wines at auction 2007-2011
(by wine and vintage)
WineYearLotsValue
Sassicaia1985166£749,414
Barolo Spers199799£205,033
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia199763£169,359
Sassicaia1997122£166,938
Solaia1997122£163,453
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia200143£144,640
Ornellaia1997103£124,473
Sassicaia199089£117,927
Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia199867£116,187
Ornellaia199893£87,100
Source: Fabian Cobb
Table 5: Top 10 most popular vintages of
Italian wines sold at auction 2007-2011
YearNo. of lots
1997806
1998454
1990392
2000357
1999303
1985299
1995280
2001275
1996218
2004214
Source: Fabian Cobb

Content derestricted August 11, 2015


  1. Unmixed, non-verticals from Sotheby's, Christie's, Acker Merrall & Condit, Zachys, Hart Davis Hart 

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