The continuing growth of the fine wine market was in full effect last week, as Sotheby's recorded the second-biggest result for a London wine sale in the company's history.
The March 21 auction, which featured wines from the Bordeaux Wine Bank Selection and the Adrian Bowden Collection, exceeded its high estimate to achieve a total of £2.7m. The sale also recorded impressive sell-through figures of 99.4% by value and 97.9% by lot, as bidders from 21 countries battled for the finest examples.
"There was excitement in the room as bids ricocheted between the telephones and the internet, both facing a very high proportion of bids received before the sale," said Serena Sutcliffe MW, Sotheby's worldwide head of wine.
"We are particularly pleased that these great wine collections attracted buyers from around the world, including new clients who loved the quality and diversity of these stunning cellars."
The result made it Sotheby's biggest London wine sale in 15 years, and the second largest in its history after the 1997 sale of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber Collection, which brought £3.69m.
More than 50% of the lots offered exceeded their high estimates. Highlights of the sale included three bottles of Vosne Romanée, Cros Parantoux 1990 Henri Jayer, which sold for £42,300, a single bottle of Krug Collection 1928, which made £14,688, and a magnum of Echézeaux 1988 Henri Jayer, which brought £8,225.
A Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2003 horizontal sold for £30,550.
The sale continues a trend which has seen the company's London wine sales soar over the past 12 months. In 2011, London sales brought a combined total of £27.2m, a massive 30% increase on 2010 figures and the biggest annual London wine results in Sotheby's history.
This pattern was evident across each of the major auction houses, with Christie's wine sales increasing by approximately 25% and Bonhams' sales by 50% in 2011.
These most recent results, combined with the record figures recorded in London by Sotheby's throughout 2011, demonstrate that it isn't just Asian buyers fuelling the rapid growth - and that the wine market in Europe continues to go from strength to strength.