“Most expensive wine in the world” breaks auction record at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s may be struggling to sell art, but the very rich seem to still have a taste for fine wines.

Last Wednesday, at Sothebys’ London auction house, an impressive single-owner wine collection sold for a record price. A lot 12 bottles of Henri Jayer’s 1978 Richebourg sold for £211,500 ($300,000) – a record for a case of that particular wine, according to Sotheby’s. Its estimate was £60,000 — £72,000 ($86,000 – $103,000).

Meanwhile 12 bottles of Henri Jayer’s 1976 Richebourg, also set a new record, selling for £108,100 ($155,000).

Henri Jayer was one of the most important winemakers in Burgundy, well known for both his winemaking innovations (the idea of cold-soaking crushed pinot noir grapes to bring out the color and flavor of the fruit and to avoid too harsh tannins), small production quantities (about 3,500 bottles a year), and of course – the quality of his wines. Last year Jayer’s wine was dubbed the most expensive in the world.

The sale bought in a total £1.58 million ($2.27 million) – more than double its low estimate and 96 percent of lots found buyers.

Stephen Mould, Head of Sotheby’s Wine, Europe, commented that the sale total was, “testament to the quality of this extraordinary cellar. We saw buyers from all four corners of the globe competing to secure rare Burgundy vintages from the legendary Henri Jayer.”

But in the art market the famed auction house has struggled of late. Its major semi-annual Impressionist and Modern evening sale brought in just $144 million. That is the worst performance for that sale in New York City since 2009. Only 66 percent of the lots sold.