Weak global economy fails to dampen fine wine sales

Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:07pm EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In good times collectors buy fine wines and in bad times they buy even more, the latest wine auction figures show.

Leading wine auction houses are reporting bumper results for 2011. Christie's sales have totaled $77.7 million globally, more than last year's $70 million and there are auctions scheduled for Amsterdam, London and Hong Kong before the end of the year.

"Despite the bleak news of the weak economy globally and last week's markets, I have to tell you, I'm still encouraged. There is a lot of interest and a lot of buyers" for wines that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars a bottle, said Robin Kelley O'Connor of Christie's.

The auction house sold $1.2 million of wine in New York on Saturday, including six bottles of Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 1911 for $66,000, which were auctioned for The Lunchbox Fund, a charity that provides meals for children.

The bottles had been found in the 18 miles of tunnels beneath the chateau's estate.

John Kapon of Acker, Merrall & Condit sold $2.4 million of wines on Saturday including a Salmanazar, a bottle that holds the equivalent of nine liters of wine, for $20,740.

Kapon estimates business is up 15 percent over last year.

"People work hard and drink harder," he said.   Continued...