Lafite's decision to feature the Chinese symbol of luck on all bottles of the 2008 vintage has ignited a frenzy of activity on the exchange, as merchants prepare for a sharp increase in demand from the Far East. Trading kicked off at £8,800 per 12x75cl case yesterday, though intense competition saw prices touch £10,500 this afternoon. The real litmus test, however, will be the Sotheby's autumn sale in Hong Kong this weekend, which is set to auction around 2,000 bottles direct from Lafite's own cellars.
The ex-cellar catalogue features vintages from 1869 to 2009, including numerous lots from 2008. According to the Sotheby's website, the 2008s are expected to fetch between £4,000 and £5,300 per case, compared to £4,900-£6,500 for the 2006s. In light of this week's announcement, however, it will be interesting to see how much Chinese buyers are really willing to spend on the novel 08 vintage.
The auction will also see dozens of lots from Duhart Milon, Carruades, Evangile and Rieussec go under the hammer, as well as two bottles of Lafite 1870 - each of which is expected to realise £6,500 to £13,000. Other Lafite trophies on offer include the 1949, 1959 and 1982.
In 2008, Asian buyers in Hong Kong bid well above pre-sale estimates for a rare collection of vintages from Latour's cellars. Will this weekend's auction uncork the same enthusiasm?
Lafite prices have continued their rapid ascent in recent months, with the Liv-ex Lafite Index reaching a new high of 674.31 in September – up 3.92% month-on-month. The index, which consists of vintages of both Lafite Rothschild and Carruades de Lafite (2000 to 2006), is currently up 62% year-on-year.