Pierre Chen’s Burgundy and Champagne Lead Record-Setting Week for Wine and Spirits

Pierre Chen’s Burgundy and Champagne Lead Record-Setting Week for Wine and Spirits

The first offering of wines from The Epicurean's Atlas totals HK$131 million.
The first offering of wines from The Epicurean's Atlas totals HK$131 million.

I t has been an unusually busy November week around the globe for Sotheby’s Wine and Spirits. On 24 and 25 November – while turkeys and pumpkin pies were the centerpiece for many at Thanksgiving dinners – the long-awaited first tranche of wines from the revered cellar of visionary epicurean and aesthete Pierre Chen came under the hammer across a marathon two-day auction at Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental. Ranking among the highest totals ever achieved for a single wine sale, The Epicurean’s Atlas: The Encyclopaedic Cellar achieved HK$131 million (US$16.8 million) attracting bidders from all around the world, including a higher proportion of bidders from the US than any previous wine sale in Asia.

The sale was the first in a series titled The Epicurean's Atlas with further auctions to be staged in various cities around the globe and showcased the comprehensive breadth and epic scope of Mr Chen’s cellar, which was further bolstered by 33 lots of rare and top tier whiskies including the Yamazaki 50 Year Old 2007 Release in The Encyclopaedic Cellar – Extraordinary Whiskies.

“This first sale really was a top-to-bottom roll call of the greatest wines that have ever been made.”
– George Lacey, Head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia.

Among the high performers in the two-day affair were wines produced by Henri Jayer, which have achieved almost mythical status, with the vineyard Cros Parantoux recognised as a jewel of Côte d'Or. As Jasper Morris writes in his book Inside Burgundy, “No other appellation in Burgundy can combine the intensity of flavour with the refinement that typifies the fine wines of Vosne-Romanée.” Four of the top 10 lots in Day 1 hailed from Henri Jayer, including 10 bottles of Vosne Romanée, Cros Parantoux 1999 Henri Jayer, which was snapped up for HK$1,875,000 (US$240,488) – among the highest prices ever achieved at auction for this legendary wine.

A wine described by renowned wine critic and author Neal Martin as ethereal and “completely mesmerising”, three magnums of La Tâche 1971 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti fetched HK$1,250,000 (US$160,275), setting a new auction record for a case of La Tâche 1971 magnums. Meanwhile, all five magnums of Faiveley Musigny from Mr Chen’s own parcel in Burgundy, in vintages spanning 2015 to 2019, saw keen bidding. Sailing past pre-sale estimates, the five lots brought in a combined total of HK$787,500 (US$101,004).

White Burgundy also proved popular, charting five of the top 10 lots in Day 2. Among the high achievers, 12 bottles of Chevalier Montrachet 2007 Domaine d'Auvenay went for HK$1,875,000 (US$240,412) while six bottles of Bâtard Montrachet 2014 Domaine d'Auvenay sold for HK$937,500 (US$120,346).

George Lacey, Sotheby's Head of Wine, Asia at the rostrum for The Epicurean's Atlas: The Encyclopaedic Cellar on 25 November 2023.

From the exquisite lots of Champagne put under the hammer, a standout was 12 bottles of Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs 1985 which achieved nearly three times pre-sale low estimates fetching HK$300,000 (US$38,511). During an exclusive Champagne tasting panel on 24 November, panel guest and founder of Vinosophy HK, Pierre Legrandois said of the popular fine wine, “Champagne is artistry. When we drink Champagne, we drink art” – and for Salon, which only produces Blanc de Blancs from a single terroir making it unique among Champagne houses, this rings aptly true.

In the week prior to this landmark sale in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s Wine & Spirits was already experiencing many high points amid an action-packed auction calendar. In London, The Macallan 1926 – featuring the Valerio Adami label – set a new auction record for any bottle of spirit or wine on 18 November when it sold for £2,187,500 (HK$21.2 million / US$2.7 million). A day earlier, an auction record for a collection of Japanese whisky was also achieved when the Kodawari Collection realised £1,784,938 (HK$17.3 million / US$2.2 million). The previous weekend, the 163rd Hospices de Beaune charity wine auction came out on top with the second highest total ever achieved for the annual auction established in 1859, bringing in €25,520,184 (HK$217 million / US$27.4 million).


An gargantuan week for Sotheby’s Wine & Spirits, the outstanding results across all three regions realised a combined total of HK$392 million (US$50 million), establishing the largest global sales total for wine and spirits ever achieved in one week for any auction house.

With just a handful of sales before 2023 comes to a close, there’s no doubt we are eagerly awaiting the festive season around the corner, but before that, Japanese whisky lovers can catch the inaugural Singapore whisky auction in the Lion City closing on 1 December to discover some hidden gems, while wine aficionados may appreciate the single-owner sale of The Keystone Collection live in New York on the same day.

Whisky & Spirits Auction Results

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