Best-case scenarios

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Words of wisdom at auction:

David Wainwright, Zachys Asia, managing director

'Never be in a hurry to buy - you'll pay too much. And never be in a hurry to sell or you won't get the price you want.'

'The deals to be had at the moment are young Bordeaux, made from 1995 onwards. This is all the investment, blue-chip stuff - it's come down a lot in price, and for the remainder of the year it will be a good time to snap up some bargains.'

'The disadvantages of buying at auction are when you pay too much because you get carried away. The advantage is that if you're savvy, you can get bargains.'

'Go when fewer people are around, so there's less competition. Go first thing in the morning, be bang-on time because nobody else is. If an auction starts at 10am, get there at 10am - the bargains are from 10am-11am. Or go at the end of the day, from 4.30pm onwards.'

Simon Tam, Christie's head of wine for China

'To get top quality at a fair price, you need to understand what's inside the bottle. There can be two catalogues with different prices, and most people will gravitate towards the cheaper. You can't expect to buy a diamond for HK$20. There's a price to be paid for quality - if it's rare and perfect, you might never see it again.'

'Don't buy if you don't have any knowledge of it.'

'Stay sober.'

'An auction is a good monitor for prices - it's there and then, and it's reflective of the needs and wants of the market. The end users - the bidders - are creating the prices.'

'Go to different auction houses and find an environment that suits you. Different auction houses have specific clients - look around and find one that is your cup of tea. This is important.'

'If you decide to build your collection, you have to decide how much you're prepared to put towards it. Find the best - and only the best - provenance. Then it will only appreciate.'

'You should only spend money on wines you like.'

'If there's an auction of certain wines in multiple lots, find out whether the auctioneer is offering it in a parcel. With this, the first winning bidder has the option of taking the remaining lots at the same price, or any number of them. He might take one, a few, or all. If the competition is between two people and the [first] winning bidder doesn't want the remaining lots, the other person can get what's left at a good price. The competition has been reduced.'

Paul Dunn, wine buyer

'I started out buying Bordeaux first growths, especially the best vintages, the blue chips. That's a safe place for a beginner; for value and for drinking, it's probably the best bet.'

'Wine is all about sharing and enjoyment. Of course, it has good commercial value because over the years, its value will appreciate. That's not my main objective, but it's a fact that the value holds.'

'When you fall in love, don't go for 100 per cent right from the start. That's what happened to me, and I was maybe a little too aggressive to begin with. I ended up moving a little too fast, whereas if I had just waited a little longer maybe I could come across the price cycle a little better. For example, if I didn't buy three lots of Lafite '82 two years ago, if I had only bought one lot, I could probably get a better deal two years later. But you don't know what's going to happen two years later.'

'Watch out for truly commercial collectors. You have to be careful with that kind of buyer. They know exactly what their clients want, and their clients are probably very well off. They will buy those lots, regardless. They have very rich clients who they know they can sell to. When you come across these buyers, you don't want to keep on bidding because the sky's the limit for these guys. You have to stop.'