Allegrini 2018


Italian wine in Hong Kong literally sold out and was an enormous success. So much so that some people are beginning to think that Italian wines are ready to compete with their French “cousins” that dominate unchallenged, since public interest is focused on the Grand Cruz, as it has been in Italy for years. This is a great opportunity not to be missed, as long as the Italian wine world walks the road together.

To prove it, a record sale of3.300.000 HK dollars (more than 300.000 euros) at the first 100% Made in Italy wine auction (a Winenews exclusive), in Hong Kong, the new world capital of wine auctions, held at the restaurant “Domani” by Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction, the first Italian auction house specialized in wine, which registered 94% of the base value sold. The stars are the Italian “legends” like Giacomo Conterno’s 1970 Barolo Monfortino (1/4 Brenta) that led the “Top 10” bids with 78.000.00 HK dollars, while Gaja’s 1976 Barbaresco had the highest increase on the base price (1 bottle, 280%).

The prices bid at Hong Kong are more or less the same as in Europe, with one important difference: “volumes”, explains Raimondo Romani, who together with Flaviano Gelardini runs Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction, “are incredibly higher and the Hong Kong market can absorb them. This was our first auction in Hong Kong and we earned 60% more than the last auction held in Rome (last October, ed), which was the best auction ever, in terms of volume, until then. And for now, too, since Gelardini & Romani’s next Italian Grand Cru auction in Hong Kong is scheduled for March 2012.

Immediately following Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino, also in the “Top 10” are: Ornellaia Estate, 1 Imperial 2004 Masseto (70 thousand HK dollars) and 3 Magnum 1997 Masseto (45 thousand 500 HK dollars), 12 bottles of Giacomo Conterno’s 2001 Barolo Monfortino (42 thousand HK dollars), Ornellaia Estate 1 Double Magnum 2001 Masseto (42 thousand HK dollars); then Tua Rita 1 double Magnum 1997 Redigaffi (27 thousand HK dollars), Gaja 10 bottles of 1990 Sperss (24 thousand HK dollars), Soldera 12 bottles of 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Case Basse (24 thousand HK dollars), Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta 12 bottles of 1997 Sassicaia (22 thousand 800 HK dollars) and e Soldera, 12 bottles of 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Case Basse (22 thousand 800 HK dollars). The results of these Italian flagship wines go even further and “the time is ripe for Italian wines to compete with their French cousins”, underlines Romani, “but the project must be shared by all the Italian wine companies together, otherwise we risk losing a unique opportunity. The trend in Hong Kong followed what has been happening in Italy for years: public interest is focused exclusively on the Italian Grad Cru, as we categorized them. And, in fact, 90% of the few lots in the catalog of wines not in this category were unsold”.

“Contrary to our expectations, Hong Kong has a different perception of bigger formats”, adds Romani, “that is, they don’t attribute any particular added value to bigger bottles. We certainly cannot disagree when they point out that a Magnum is equal to 2 bottles, a Double Magnum is 4 bottles, etc., so their cost should not be any different. In Italy, instead, a Magnum (1 and a half liters) or larger bottle has a higher price directly from the cellar and in Hong Kong they are not willing to pay it. That said the prices bid in Hong Kong are more or less the same as in Europe. On the other hand, in a globalized world where it costs very little to ship a bottle of wine (in Hong Kong there is no excise tax on wine) and internet has all prices readily available, it is futile to think there is still someone willing to pay 20-30% more than the real market price for a product.”

According to Romani, the public is much more competent than we think, thanks to the French training, with a greater interest towards Italy, particularly for over 30-year-old 0.75 liter bottle wines. To prove it, the lots that registered the greatest increase on the auction base price were: Gaja’s 1976 Barbaresco (1 bottle, 280%), Giacomo Conterno’s 1949 Barolo Monfortino (1 bottle, 183%), Biondi Santi’s 1958 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (1 bottle, 183%), Antinori’s 1978 Tignanello (3 bottles, 122%) and 1975 Tignanello (1 bottle, 120%).

So, it was a 100% Made in Italy success, with fine Italian wines the stars not only at the auction but also at the gala dinner when Gelardini & Romani’s Classification of the Italian Grand Crus was officially presented at the 2 Michelin starred restaurant “Otto e Mezzo” where some of the Grand Crus – Ornellaia, Messorio, L’Apparita, Redigaffi, Oreno and Barolo Cascina Francia were tasted in the wine tasting led by Luca Martini, the top Italian Sommelier of 2009 elected by AIS, the Italian Sommeliers Association. Also present were the Italian Consul General Alessandra Schiavo, the Hong Kong Deputy Minister of Treasury, Kong K.C. Chan (responsible for the law on lifting the tax on wine in Hong Kong), the General Manager of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong and Macau, Emanuele Bosetti, the Manager of the Investment Fund Nobles Cru in Hong Kong (the number one European investment fund for fine wines), Averardo Borghini Baldovinetti and the Italian television personality, Heather Parisi who now lives in Hong Kong.

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