Strong UK sales helped propel Sotheby's wine department close to a record 2011, the auction house has revealed.
Sotheby's global wine auctions in 2011 brought $85.5m, slightly down on 2010's record breaking $88.2m figure. The auctioneer held 23 wine auctions worldwide, comprising 13 in London, six in Hong Kong and four in New York.
London wine sales realised a combined $27.2m, the highest annual total in Sotheby's 41 years of wine sales in the British capital, an increase of 30% on 2010's $21m total.
Hong Kong sales brought $44.7m, while New York auctions made $13.5m.
Serena Sutcliffe, the worldwide head of wine at Sotheby's, commented: "This is a great worldwide result.
"Bordeaux remains the backbone of classic wine auctions but top-end Burgundy is highly sought after, with buyers from every corner of the globe."
Highlights of Sotheby's year included January's Hong Kong sale of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Wine Collection, which achieved $5.6m, and New York's 100%-sold March auction where a melchior (18 litre bottle) of Château Cheval Blanc 1995 made US$45,375 against an estimate of $5,000-7,000.
The results follow a record breaking year for wine auctioneer Acker, Merrill and Condit, which surpassed $100m in sales for the first time.
The positive figures come despite a slight-slowdown in global sales of collectible vintage wine in 2011's third quarter, demonstrating that the wine auction markets are still hot.
The Wine Spectator Auction Index, which tracks the value of fine wine at US auctions, dropped by 4.6% in the third quarter when compared with the previous three months.
Yet, for those taking the long-term view of fine wines as investible assets, the news is positive.
The Liv-Ex Fine Wine 100, which tracks the top 100 most collectible wines, has shown a 300% appreciation since its launch in 2001. That's a 13.49% increase year-on-year.