Hart Davis Hart Wine Co., the newest addition to the American wine-auction scene, held its inaugural sale on Jan. 29 at the Chicago Athletic Association. The auction totaled $2 million, and 96 percent of the lots were sold--an impressive figure.
Equally impressive was the crowd. "There were probably 250 people in attendance," said Michael Davis, the firm's president and CEO. "That's more than I've seen for years either here in Chicago or in New York. The salesroom was very active and, initially, most lots went to the floor, which doesn't often happen."
Highlights of the sale included a nine-magnum vertical of Screaming Eagle spanning the 2001 to 1992 vintages. The lot sold at the high end of its estimate, for $32,760, inclusive of the 17 percent buyer's premium.
Red Burgundies were also in strong demand. Nine bottles of Rouget Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1990 brought $8,190 (24 percent above the wine's average price in the fourth-quarter 2004 Wine Spectator Auction Index) and two magnums of Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes 1985 fetched $4,446 (up 27 percent from its index average).
In contrast, Château Haut-Brion 2000 was a relative bargain at $3,744 per case (down 26 percent), as were six bottles of Château Pétrus 2000, which were snapped up for $8,775 (down 17 percent).
Auction action in Chicago slowed down in 2001 after Sotheby's ended its wine sales there, which were run by Davis and partner Paul Hart. There are two other houses in the city that deal in wine, Edward Roberts International and Chicago Wine Co.
"The real importance of this sale is that it puts Chicago back on the map as a wine-auction center," Davis observed. "I think a lot of collectors were waiting in the wings to see what would happen."
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