Our Top Five Fine Wine sales from late 2011 - DRC, Lafite, Champagne and more

By any standards, this has been a fantastic year for fine wines at auction. Across the board at Acker Merrill & Condit, Sotheby's, Christie's, Hart Davis Hart, Morrell and Company and Spectrum there have been great prices and records set.

Here's a recap for the second half of the year in great wine sales.

5. A Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1911 champagne

One month ago, Christie's held a charity auction at which an exclusive collector's case of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 1911 champagne was sold for the benefit of the Lunchbox Fund (which provides meals for impoverished South African schoolchildren).

The black leather case sold for $66,000. Of course it came with a free 'date' with Gwyneth Paltrow - but we're sure that didn't affect the price.

It's been a strong year for Champagne as a bottle of vintage 1955 Salon was sold by Acker in Hong Kong in September for HK$46,360/US$5,944, the highest price for any single bottle of Salon sold at auction.

4. The 'Napoleon-age' bottle of 1811 Chateau d'Yquem

If you think that a century is a long time to be holding onto a bottle of bubbly without drinking it, how about a 200 year old bottle of dessert wine?

That was the prospect for collectors at the Ritz in central London for an auction held by rare wine experts The Antique Wine Company: a bottle of 1811 Château d'Yquem.

Chateau d'Yquem
The bottle of Chateau d'Yquem from the age of Napoleon

French private collector Christian Vanneque paid a staggering £75,000 ($122,206) for the privilege of owning it - and what's more intends to drink it to mark 50 years of his career in wine.

3. The legendary 1990 Romanée-Conti

The greatest interest for the wine markets in recent years has been the effect which the Chinese market has been having on the Bordeaux markets, but of course Burgundy is having its say too.

In September, John Kapon of Acker, Merrill and Condit opined: "Our Asian customers are very knowledgeable and sophisticated. Their passion for the great wines of Bordeaux has grabbed numerous headlines over the years, but this Fall is going to be all about Burgundy.

"The passion and interest in Burgundy is growing rapidly every new sale, and the mainland is just starting to discover the greatness of the region."

Acker was just shaping up to deliver the world-class Don Stott collection of Burgundy at the time of course. They had a favourable omen with a rare original wooden 12-bottle case of the legendary 1990 vintage Romanee-Conti which realised a staggering HK$2,318,000/US$297,179.

Acker Don Stott Romanee-Conti 1990 Burgundy wine
One of many, many bottles of Burgundy which Acker sold in 2011
(This one is from the Don Stott collection)

After numerous competitive bids in a heated battle, this established a world auction record for a 12-bottle case of 1990 DRC Romanee-Conti at a staggering HK$2,318,000/US$297,179

2. Christie's $539,000 'perfect condition' Lafite vertical

Chateau Lafite has a special place in the hearts of many in the wine markets, especially in Asia where Chinese bidders have taken it to their hearts.

So it's no surprise that one of the great wine lots for the year was the fantastic Lafite vertical with 12 bottles from all the vintages 1981-2005, which had been "lovingly stored in perfect condition since purchase" which Christie's sold in September.

It sold towards the top end of its mammoth HK$3.5m-4.5m listing at HK$4.2m (US$539,280) to a private Chinese collector - the highest priced wine lot of the year at the time.

Charles Curtis M.W., Head of Wine for Christie's Asia, commented:

"We are particularly happy with the HK$4.2 million achieved by our spectacular 25 year vertical of Château Lafite-Rothschild, the most valuable lot of wine sold worldwide this year."

1. Acker's epic Romanée-Conti vertical

Despite Christie's success, John Kapon's prediction was to ring true. Just this month, Acker Hong Kong offered a towering vertical: a superlot of 55 bottles of every vintage of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti released from 1952-2007.

To be precise, that is the first post-World War II vintage of Romanée Conti - through to 2007 (with the exception of the 1968 which was never released by the Domaine) and it sold for HK$6,344,000/US$813,333 to another Chinese collector.

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