Wine Auction Prices Put Beer Auction Prices in Perspective

May 11th, 2010 · 5 Comments · General Beer News

Sometimes it is nice to put things in perspective. Yesterday, I posted a link to an online auction of rare beers to support a great cause. These beers were very expensive by comparative standards, even vs. the most expensive bottles of beer you can find at local retailers. But, an email I received today made me think about how minute those auction prices are in comparison to wine auctions. It is no secret that wine is in general much more expensive than beer. Sure, there are plenty of exceptions for affordable bottles of good wines. But, most diverse craft beer drinkers balk when they see a price tag upwards of $15 or $20 for special releases; that price point is just the start for good wine.

Hart Davis Hart held a rare wine auction in Chicago (with real-time online bidding as well) this past weekend, and total sales amounted to $3.7M dollars. Yep, you read that correctly. $3,777,503, to be exact. While the most expensive beer at the FredFest auction is a 1994 Hair of the Dog Dave, which is currently at $450 $350 for a single 12oz bottle of what is one of the rarest and most sought-after beers out there, the most expensive sale at the wine auction was $45,410 for a case of 12 bottles of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild. That amounts to $3,784 per bottle of wine. That’s definitely more than I sold my last car for. I’m sure this is some crazy good wine, but it is still a consumable beverage we are talking about here.

Yes, I’m sure most wines selling for these astronomical prices are older, but I’m not sure they are rarer. Good luck finding a case of HOTD Dave. Ever. It is also definitely a function of less “beer collectors” vs. “wine collectors”, and less serious craft beer drinkers with ridiculous amounts of disposable income.

What’s my point? It’s not like most of us have the money to throw around for even these rare beer auctions, but just be glad you aren’t trying to score that bottle of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild. Also, while rare beer auctions are scarce, wine auctions are a multi-million dollar business supported by rich people all over the world. It’s a crazy world when businesses can make ridiculous amounts of money selling wines from one rich person to another. I don’t think it would ever happen, but let’s hope beer never reaches the “status” of wine in this regard. I like being able to pick up some of the best beers in the world for less than $20…

Here is the full press release regarding the wine auction:

Hart Davis Hart Sells 100% of Lots for $3.7 Million
as Prices Strike New 2010 Highs

HDH Index at Highest Level Since
September 2008 Fox Cellar Auction

(May 10, 2010 – Chicago, IL) – Hart Davis Hart held a highly successful wine auction this weekend in Chicago, realizing $3,777,503 in total sales against a pre-sale auction estimate of $2,380,780 -$3,557,000. Wines from Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and Harlan Estate generated spirited bidding from US, international, private and trade buyers. An exciting selection of rare Burgundy from Armand Rousseau brought prices that soared over the high estimate ranges.

The HDH Index, which tracks the performace of fifteen key wines sold at auction, finished up 2.84% and is now up 19.42% on the year. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild continues to appreciate in value at a rapid pace. Hammer prices for the 1986 vintage rose 34% from the previous auction and have increased by a remarkable 80% this year. Château Lafite-Rothschild continues its torrid pace. The 1982 vintage brought prices as high as $45,410 per case, while the 2000 vintage brought $26,290 per case.

“The room had great energy,” said CEO Paul Hart. “Our Asian, South American, and European clients are seeing increasing competition from decidedly upbeat US buyers.”

Bidders participated from 42 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Australia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Germany, France, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. The auction room in Chicago was packed with enthusiastic buyers who enjoyed incredible wines and great food throughout the day.

“Auction prices are again near all-time highs as the top wines in the world now have a truly global following,“ commented Chairman John Hart. “But, the story that is being largely ignored is perhaps the most important of the year… the resurgence of the US buyer.”

Top Ten Lots (inclusive of 19.5% buyer’s premium):
Lot Wine Estimate Aggregate
785 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) $28,000-42,000 $45,410
505 2000 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $30,000-45,000 $41,825
501 1998 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $18,000-28,000 $33,460
784 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (8 bs) $19,000-28,000 $31,070
228 Mixed Case -1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: Romanée-Conti (1), La Tâche (3), Richebourg (2), Grands-Echézeaux (2), Romanée-St.-Vivant (2), Echézeaux (2) $20,000-30,000 $26,290
34, 480, 481 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) $15,000-22,000 $26,290
33 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild (11 bs) $13,000-19,000 $22,705
175 1999 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (6 bs) $12,000-18,000 $22,705
35 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild (3 dbl-mags (3L)) $15,000-22,000 $21,510
504 2000 Château Pétrus (6 bs) $15,000-22,000 $21,510

Top Ten Lots (inclusive of 19.5% buyer’s premium):
1. Lot 2: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) $45,410 (est. $28,000-$42,000)
2. Lot 3: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) $45,410 (est. $28,000-42,000)
3. Lot 92: 1982 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $45,410 (est. $28,000-42,000)
4. Lot 1417: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) $45,410 (est. $28,000-42,000)
5. Lot 93: 1989 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $41,825 (est. $26,000-38,000)
6. Lot 94: 1990 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $41,825 (est. $22,000-32,000)
7. Lot 1108: 1989 Château Pétrus (6 mags) $35,850 (est. $26,000-38,000)
8. Lot 1183: 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Assortment (12 bs) $35,850 (est. $24,000-35,000)
9. Lot 786: 1989 Château Pétrus (12 bs) $33,460 (est. $26,000-38,000)
10.Lot 969: 2005 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (12 bs) $33,460 (est. $26,000-38,000)

Percent sold by lot: 100%
Hammer: $3,161,090 (132.78% to low)
Total Aggregate: $3,777,502

2010 Auction Calendar
June 26, 2010
September 11, 2010
October 30, 2010
December 11, 2010

Bidding Information
Auction catalogs are available through the website or by calling Hart Davis Hart (; 312.482.9996). The expanded website allows bidders to view and search the auction catalog and place absentee bids online.

Hart Davis Hart’s state-of-the-art technology allows bidders worldwide to participate in the Chicago-based live auctions via the Internet. Bidders can follow the auction in the salesroom, hear the live auction, and bid against the room, all in real-time. More details about the technology can be found at

Bidders are encouraged to attend the auction in person, but Hart Davis Hart welcomes bids by phone, fax, through the website, and via the live-bid technology. For more information, contact Hart Davis Hart at 312.482.9996 or go to

About Hart Davis Hart Wine Co.
Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. is both a dynamic retailer and an internationally prominent wine auction house, occupying a unique position in the rare wine market. We offer collectors and restaurateurs a broad range of options for buying and selling wines, providing unrivaled expertise and personalized service.

Founded in October 2004, Hart Davis Hart represents the alliance of three highly-respected industry leaders: John Hart, Michael Davis, and Paul Hart, with a combined experience of nearly 90 years in the rare wine business. John Hart, a renowned expert, has been a leader in the rare wine retail business for over three decades. With extensive careers at Christie’s, Davis & Company, and Sotheby’s, Michael Davis and Paul Hart are the most experienced wine auctioneers in America.


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