Time to stock cellar? Fine wine prices drop again

Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:59pm EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The price of fine wines declined by 1.2 percent in March, according to the Liv-Ex 100, the index that tracks 100 collectable wines.

The news, announced on Wednesday, comes in the middle of the fine wine auction season with Sotheby's, Acker-Merrill, Christie's and Zachys' holding sales in the next two weeks.

The flood of fine Bordeaux, vintage Champagnes, and an unusual bounty of Burgundy comes as Liv-Ex had more bad news for wine sellers.

For the year, the index was up 1.3 percent, but remains down 18.2 percent from a year ago. By comparison, the S&P 500 was down 3.1 percent for the first quarter of '09, and off 34.7 percent from a year ago.

"Prices had risen to nearly unsustainable levels last spring," Sotheby's Senior Vice President of Wine Jamie Ritchie said in an interview.

He acknowledged that current auction prices reflected the global economic downturn as well as the current supply.

"The prices have returned to what one would call more usual, more in line with the historical norms for these Grand Crus. And they provide an excellent entry point for buyers," Ritchie added.

Sotheby's is estimating that its April 18 New York sale of 1,500 lots will fetch up to $2.6 million. The sale includes selections that can be had for as little as $3 to as much as $7,000 a bottle.   Continued...