As wine consumption in Asia continues to grow, Hong Kong this weekend is hosting what organizers are claiming to be the "first ever'' auction of vintages representing four centuries of the famed Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
A recent report into how much wine the world is now drinking claimed China is now the second-fastest growing international market, ranking behind the United States, and organizers of this weekend's auction, the US-based sales house Acker Merrall & Condit, are hoping to quench that newfound thirst with sales they are estimating will top US$50 million (€37 million).
The auction - which features 1,108 lots, including Lafite lots from 1799-2003 - will be held on March 26 and 27 at the Island Shangri-la Hotel and wine lovers can view the catalogue via www.ackerasia.com and register for real time online bids via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Over the past two years, we have witnessed a strong demand and growing interest in Hong Kong and Asia for fine and rare wines of superlative quality and impeccable provenance, Hong Kong has both consolidated its position as the regional hub for fine and rare wines, and is continuing to claim its rightful place on the world wine stage,'' Acker Merrall & Condit's president and auction director John Kapon said on announcing the sale.
"Hong Kong has already overtaken London as the world's second most important wine auction centre after New York. We predict that in 2010, Hong Kong will become the world's leading wine auction centre.''
The figures would certainly back his claims.
Hong Kong is in May hosting Vinexpo Asia-Pacific (www.vinexpo.com) - the world's largest wine exhibition - and that event's recent survey into world wine consumption revealed the scale of wine consumption now being enjoyed in these parts.
Wine consumption in China (including Hong Kong) has grown by almost 80 percent in the past five years - and is expected to grow by a further 70 percent over the next five years.
Good news for organizers of this weekend's auction too is that Hong Kong wine lovers in particular have a fascination with all things French. One in three bottles of wine drunk in the territory comes from France - and the French market share has in recent years grown by 41.8 percent.