Investors raise a glass or two as Sotheby's fine wine sale makes $1.76m

There were corks popping across the capital last night, as Sotheby's latest sale of fine wines and champagnes in London yesterday (March 23) made a cool £1,081,736 ($1.76m).

In a year which has already seen major wine auctions bring in more than $26 million, collectors and investors showed no signs of slowing down as the lots appeared. The sale featured a number of classic 1990 first growths, stunning champagnes and stupendous 2005s.

The star of the show was lot 475, four bottles of Romanee Conti 1999. Described by Serena Sutcliffe as "attaining perfection", the lot beat its high estimate to sell for £24,150 (inc. buyer's premium).

Next in line was lot 472, a case of 12 bottles of the Chateaux Lafite 2000. A distinct favourite amongst Asian collectors in recent years, the Lafite shows no signs of losing its popularity despite many investors in the Far East beginning to diversify their tastes. Lafite remains the most reliable and strongest-performing of all investment wines, and its quality always shines through at auction.

The case sold for £21,850, and could prove to be a very long-term investment; the lot notes suggested the wine would "last a century if so desired, so think two generations on". However, with influential critic Robert Parker scoring it at 100/100, there's no doubt that its value will increase with its quality.

There was also success for a more mature vintage, as 5 bottles of the 1982 Laffite were sold for £14,950. The wine was described as "so youthful...with a long life ahead of it", which is something that everyone nearing their 30th birthday would like to hear.

Other notable sale included a case of "must have" Lafite 2005 which sold for £11,500, a case of Chateaux Mouton Rothschild which reached £9,430 and 5 bottles of Chateau Petrus 1995 which went beyond its high estimate of £6,200 to sell for £7,475.

After a remarkable year in 2010, experts had high hopes for the wine market in 2011. And with millions of dollars currently flowing through auction houses at every sale, it appears that the only bubbles in danger of bursting are those in the Veuve Clicquot.

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