Mon Dieu! French Wine Prices Go Crazy

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Prices for classic French wines at the world’s auctions continue to scale ever-dizzier heights.

Christies’ end of the year report makes breath-taking reading, and eight of the 10 top price realisations of 2013 were bid by private Asian clients (the other two were Swiss and French). The highest-priced sale of the year was for a dozen bottles of 1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (tastings), grand cru Romanée-Conti. Fair enough: it’s one of the greatest wines I’ve ever tasted, too, and many other people would agree. But £295,838 is sheer madness. That’s about A$602,000 for the case (including buyer’s premium) or a little over A$50,000 a bottle. Christie’s claim it’s a world auction record for Romanée-Conti and a world auction record for any case of 12 bottles of wine.

Other top lots for the year included another dozen of the same ’78 Romanée-Conti which was an absolute steal at £187,364 compared to the above lot. But hey, when you’re an Asian squillionaire what’s an extra £100,000 for a case of good booze? Then there was 105 bottles of Chateau Latour (tastings) for £187,364; a collection of 66 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (tastings) magnums, 1945 to 2008, for US$270,784; a dozen bottles of 1985 Romanée-Conti for £177,503; six magnums of the same wine for £147,919; 61 magnums of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1929-2009 for £138,058; and a dozen 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc (tastings) for £110,136.

Silly money, all of it. If just one of the 12 bottles of Romanee-Conti is corked or otherwise spoilt, that’s $50,000 down the drain. But then, wealth is no guarantee of a palate; they might not even notice it’s corked.

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