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Delhi Wine Club
Gaja, Regal Italians Stars of HK Auction

Posted: Monday, 03 December 2012 12:30

Gaja, Regal Italians Stars of HK Auction

December 03: For the first time Gaja wines will join hosts of other regal Italian stars like Solaia, Sassicaia and Ornellaia and lead the Auction of Acker, Merrall and Condit in Hong Kong this week, making it the most diverse auction in the history of the leading auctioneer in Hong Kong, that will have a majority of wines from other parts of the world but will give an opportunity to the Italian wine lovers to fill up their cellars with Regal Italian wines, writes Subhash Arora

The last auction of the year by Acker, Merrall and Condit (AMC), the leader auctioneers of the collectible wines in the world, features first ever participation by Gaja (starting with Lot 1) and perhaps the biggest selection of Italian Fine Wines which are fast becoming popular in China. It’s not surprising that the 350-page catalogue that has been designed more as a coffee-table book has a bright red colour and the number XXIV (24) representing the number of auction, is boldly printed in Chinese.

Jennie Tucker, Director-Client Relations for AMC, was in Delhi and Mumbai on her way to Hong Kong Auction last weekend to promote the event for the first time in India. John Kapon, the third generation proprietor and CEO of the oldest auction house, since 1820, was expected in India for the promotion but was too busy in New York,  still packing a cellar for the auction to be held between 6-8 December at Hotel Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong.

The Gaja consignment features verticals of single vineyard Barolos and Barbarescos, including a 24-bottle vertical of Sorí San Lorenzo Barbaresco (HK$48,000-$64,000), a first ever for the iconic winery of Barbaresco owned by the legendry Angelo Gaja. There are several lots of magnums, 5-liter bottles and the single vineyards and popular labels like Sorí Tildín, Conteisa, Sperss, and Darmagi will be there to woo their fans. The provenance can be gauged from the fact that most of the Italian wines are leaving the producers cellars for the first time.

Gaia Gaja, daughter of the legendary Angelo Gaja, now focusing on international exports, is very proud of the provenance of the wines being auctioned.  She tells delWine, ‘this is the first time that the lots presented to an auction are coming directly from our winery. When buying a rare old wine it is essential to have a guaranty of authenticity and optimal conservation of such bottle. Fortunately, from my grandfather’s time we started to save from release a limited quantity of bottles in each vintage and we are now honored to share some of the best with Hong Kong wine lovers.’  She will be present at the auction to personally congratulate the successful bidders.

Other Italian wines are represented by the likes of Antinori, Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Five double magnums of Ornellaia from 1999 to 2006 (HK$34,000 – HK$44,000), a 6-litre 2004 Solaia (HK$24,000 – HK$40,000, 24 bottles of 1999 Barolo from Cordero di Montezemolo (HK$14,400 – HK$20,000) and Barbaresco Rabaja Reserva 2001( HK$ 24,000-32,000) will be a part of the portfolio being offered.

The idea to have a plethora of Piedmont and Tuscan iconic wines at the HK auction was born out of ‘The Great Wines of Italy,’ an event being held next week (4-5 December) in conjunction with Hong Kong Tatler, a high-profiled HK Lifestyle magazine, at the Island Shangri-la Hotel. Over 90 of Italy’s finest winemakers will pour their most highly-rated wines (90+) selected by the world-renowned wine critic James Suckling, former honcho of Italian wines for Wine Spectator. AMC had requested the finest Italian producers, from Gaja to Antinori to Sandrone, to offer some of their greatest wines for auction. None of these wines had ever moved from their producers’ Cellars until now.

Of course, as usual, the catalogue lists hundreds of lots of the usual fine Bordeaux and Burgundy  wines including  verticals  of DRC, Haut Brion from 1945 to 2009, Margaux, Yquem, Leroy, Potel, Ponsot, Henri Jayer and Clos du Tart etc; 1290 to be precise. There is even a magnum vertical of 10 vintages of Screaming Eagle from 1992 to 2002 (HK$800,000 – HK$1,200,000) giving an idea of the great diversity of the origin of wines at this event.

There is often a misconception that such auctions are exclusively for very old, aged and mature wines from the top wine producers of Bordeaux or Burgundy only. One can find several good bargains, however. Sarah Wong, a resident of Hong Kong who is a realtor, is a wine connoisseur and a judge at wine competitions like HKIWSC. She admits, ‘I buy all my wines from such auctions. This gives me an opportunity to stock up some very interesting wines at great prices. I have a cellar-full of such wines.’

Sarah has a valid point. Lot 1108 from the small section of The Great Wines of Italy has 236 bottles of wines listed at HK $ 80,000-120,000 (US $ 10,000-15,000)-just enough to fill a Euro-Cave with Regal Italians from Bolgheri, Barolo, Chianti Classico, Montalcino and other well regarded regions of Italy represented by producers like Castello di Brolio, Marchesi di Barolo, Zenato, Il Borro, Tasca d’Almerita, Brancaia, Argiolas, Castello di Monsanto - familiar names in India. Of course, it would be a problem to bring them back unless you are a diplomat moving to India. Under the current laws, one can bring only 3 bottles (technically 2 since the wine is put in the same category as whisky - 2 liters; but customs are generally liberal enough to allow 3-4 bottles of wine if one is not bringing any other liquor.

Jennie said the company was well aware of the potential of the market in India but admittedly had no solution to offer on how to bring back the wines purchased in the auction. ‘We have no clear answers yet but I am sure we will eventually find a good solution.’ Currently, she suggests having the wines stored in London, Dubai or Hong Kong which is duty-free and not far for the potential clients in this market. She added that the bidders could also participate through email, Fax or even phone by pre-registering.

Subhash Arora



Subhash Arora Says:

The Superlot of 236 Italian wines went for only US$ 8831- a great price, against the indicative price of $10-15,000 justifying our stand that bargains may be available if one is careful. Of course, wines from Gaja and Antinori fetched prices higher than the upper side of estimates, indicating their immense brand value and thus high demand. Subhash Arora

Posted @ December 13, 2012 16:10


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