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2020 Trends & Triumphs: The Year in Auctions


At the close of each calendar year, we like to look back at the triumphs that defined the year in Langton’s Auctions. We especially love to predict potential trends. What’s going to make a splash over the next 12 months, and how can our bidders and vendors make the most of Auctions?

2020 was a year like no other, and we have seen the results to prove it. With a greater number of customers working from their own homes, Langton's saw active customer numbers balloon by an impressive 40%, as well as an increase in bidding to the tune of 50%. Clearance rates were up across the board by 10% and the most consistent, top performing auctions were–unsurprisingly–Finest & Rare, Classification VII, and Unreserved.


‘Bidding increased to the tune of 50%.’


The big market mover was Spirits, Fortifieds and Desserts , which continues to see success year on year as more and more vendors take the time to delve into the dustiest corners of their cellars in the hope of discovering a brilliant old bottling Whisky, or rare aged Sauternes.

Birth Years

Celebrating a wine from your birth year with friends, family and loved ones can be an unforgettable experience. The demand for great wines from significant vintages is growing as the giver hunts to find the ultimate sensory gift. If you're looking to buy wine as a birthday gift, we suggest you be well-planned and start early for your hunt. Recent results highlight the earlier you purchase your vintage gift, the better the opportunity for a wide choice at a reasonable pricey. Alternatively, if you are looking to sell, offering your wine in the significant birth year can deliver solid demand and prices. Penfolds Grange always ranks at the top of the wish list for such gifts. The wines are dependable with age, offer exquisite quality, and are instantly recognisable.


‘In 2020, the average price for a bottle of 1970 Grange more than tripled.’


2020 Highlights

The highest price achieved in 2020 for a single bottle was for 1951 Penfolds Grange Bin 1. This benchmark of the Australian wine scene sold for an eye-watering $103,555.69, not only achieving the highest value wine sold in 2020, but also achieving a record price for a bottle of Australian wine.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, prices for the crème de la crème dominated the Top 20 wine prices of 2020. DRC, Leroy, Grange, and luxury single malt The Macallan dominated. With no international holidays to spend on, savvy wine lovers had more disposable income to spend on their wine collections.


‘The highest price achieved in 2020 was for a bottle of 1951 Grange.’


Australia's work-horse of the wine industry, South Australia, dominated thirsts. An impressive 73% of the top 20 hotly contested wines came from this hotspot.

Barossa and McLaren Vale Grenache has seen continued growth in demand. We put this down to Grenache's ability to produce more approachable, mid-weight wines that can age, be chilled, and offer excellent value for money. 

Finally, the drinkable-yet-serious Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon was 2020's hottest wine, with demand exceeding all other wines offered this year. A reliable brand offering serious quality and value for money.

The Top 20 Wines of 2020

Penfolds Bin 1 Grange Hermitage SHZ SA 1951 - $103,555.69
Penfolds Bin 4 Grange Hermitage SHZ SA 1952 - $46,601.17
Penfolds Bin 10 Grange Hermitage SHZ SA 1953 - $35,649
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1978 - $25,632
Penfolds Bin 60A Cabernet Shiraz 1962 - $22,136
Penfolds Bin 11 Grange Hermitage SHZ SA 1954 - $20,971
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1983 - $19,003
Domaine Leroy Musigny 1995 - $17,475
Macallan The Macallan 1940 Red Ribbon NV - $16,007
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1976 - $13,980
Cheval Blanc 1er grand cru, St-Émilion 1947 - $13,980
Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shz SA 1955 - $12,815
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1973 - $11,715
Penfolds Bin 100 Cabernet Shz Kalimna-EV 1959 - $10,822
Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para 1879 - $10,486
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2005 - $10,486
Penfolds Bin 58 CAB Kalimna 1961 - $9,876
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 1999 - $9,669
Penfolds Bin 49 Grange Hermitage SHZ SA 1960 - $9,325
Domain Leroy Chambertin 1995 - $8,623

Single Vendor Sales

Each year, Langton's curates and takes to auction a wonderful array of Single Vendor collections, showcasing individual cellars built up over a generation or more of collecting. 2020 was headlined by the James Halliday Collection auction series – 12 different auctions held over three months, starting with over 200 bottles of DRC. This benchmark series witnessed unprecedented bidding from around the globe.

Further Single Vendor highlights included the crowd favourite Impeccably Curated Single Vendor that offered a look into the cellar of one of Sydney's leading wine retailers, and included 40+ bottles of aged DRC, mid-19th century Bordeaux, and Aussie classics like Grange and Hill of Grace. Top notch Single Vendor auctions such as these see an average 80%+ clearance rate and higher prices than would otherwise be achieved. If you have a cellar that you want to rationalise, let us know today!

Trends for 2021

As customers reach for lighter reds, we expect Grenache in all styles and from all regions to continue its march as one of Australia's most popular wines.

Alternatives are making a play. Driven by regions like McLaren Vale, Mildura, Yarra and beyond, intriguing alternative varietals are starting to gain momentum in the auction space.


‘Barolo prices continue to soar, and bigger is better!’


Barolo prices continue to increase. The King of wines continues to increase in value, as does consumer interest.

High demand for wines between $50 and $100 per bottle. As more time is spent at home, savvy auction customers are spending more on what we call ‘midweek wines’, well-aged bottles for general consumption. 

Cabernet becomes fashionable for all. As the weather warms around the country, the once rustic and closed Cabernet Sauvignon style has softened. Bar those of ultra-high quality and cellarability, the average bottle of Cabernet offers a lot in its youth and has increased in popularity.

Bigger is better! Large format wines offer a lot more than just volume. A longer shelf life, greater interest, and an interesting talking point are just a few of the reasons Langton's customers are going gaga for magnums, double magnums and imperials. 

As ever, Burgundy will continue to increase in price and become harder to access.


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