Wealth Blog

Henry Tang's wine collection

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 2:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 2:51pm

It seems former chief secretary and failed chief executive candidate Henry Tang is right about something - the best time to pop a few bottles of Burgundy. 

A renowned Burgundy lover, he is acknowledged to be extremely knowledgeable on the subject and started collecting back when the rest of Asia’s wine lovers only knew one label and that was “Lafitte.” Clever old Tang, 60, in between visiting the vineyards and becoming thoroughly acquainted with the makers and owners of the region, bought and laid down a plethora of bottles. These included everything from Grand Cru to village level and renowned Domaines to lesser know up-and-coming producers. Smart boy, our Henry, and just a fraction of his vast haul will star in “The Henry Tang Collection” at Christie’s next month.

The reason for flogging it off? “I realised I have far too much wine and I would never be able to consume it in a lifetime.” In fact, he told the Wall Street Journal the whole of hic collection could not be consumed over “the whole of multiple lifetimes.” This is the first single-owner wine collection belonging to a single Asian owner to go under the auctioneer’s hammer. The thousands of bottles in 810 lots are expected to realise at least HK$29 million.   

Great time for Burgundy

Wine is like the stock market, with certain varietals going in and out of fashion and not all being in vogue at the same time. Right now Burgundy is hot, so connoisseurs can choose between Tang’s vast array of young wines to lay down long term, bottles for immediate resale or heaven forbid, for enjoying right now. One expert familiar with the Tang collection says Tang may come across as a buffoon in some areas, but really knows his wines and has “some really great Burgundies.”

Unless you’re a really useless negotiator, you get hammer price at these auctions, so Tang can expect to pocket the entire proceeds. Christie’s typically relieves their buyers of commission at the rate of 19-21 per cent, depending on who you are. Christie’s sellers don’t usually pay.  There may be some variance between what’s published and what actually transpires, though of course the big consigners with lots of clout don’t usually pay anything. The wine market is very tough these days, densely populated with specialist wine auction houses. So as Christie’s describes him, Tang, a “fine wine enthusiast and experienced wine collector” is set to make a tidy fortune from his passion. And free up some cellar space for – well, we’ll just have to wait and see.