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Knocking down rare vintages in a rare chance for city charity

WINE lovers came together to do their bit as ASC Fine Wines hosted the first charity wine auction in the Chinese mainland earlier this month. Of the money raised from the sale, 680,000 yuan (US$99,491) was donated to the Shanghai Charity Foundation.

"Tonight's charity wine auction shows two apparent facts," says Jin Zhaomin, deputy secretary-general of the foundation. "First of all, the wines must be great; even though I am not a wine connoisseur, I am sure of this because of the eagerness I have seen from the guests for each lot.?Secondly, all the guests are kind people. We are extremely grateful for ASC's generosity. Undoubtedly ASC is not only the leader in the fine wine business but also a very responsible corporate citizen that gives back to society."

The June 6 event, held at Hyatt on the Bund, saw the sale of 122 lots of duty-paid, landed China stocks, all of which were top Bordeaux Grand Crus. Most of these stocks were shipped directly from the chateaux to guarantee authenticity and condition.

"The idea came from my father's suggestion over four months ago to organize a wine auction because it had never been done before in China," says ASC CEO Don St Pierre Jr.

"It is comprehensive because we have been thinking about organizing creative events for our best private clients, to offer the most sought after wines at the most competitive prices, and also to carry out ASC's corporate social responsibilities as the leading wine company in China should."

More than 100 connoisseurs were salivating at the prospect of owning some truly exceptional vintages. Some lots included the sublime 1985 and legendary 1982 vintages, which have become increasingly difficult to source of late. The highest bid of the evening was for two 12-bottle cases of Chateau Latour 1982 that went for 389,000 yuan.

The 1982 vintage is one of the most highly prized of the post-World War II era. Aided by astute US wine critic Robert Parker's enthusiastic assessment as one of the most sumptuous in decades, the vintage kick started a broader appeal of the region's produce, an appeal that has also caught on the Chinese mainland.

The Pauillac Chateau has been a steady performer in the secondary market and regularly fetches lofty prices under the hammer - a case of the stellar vintage was sold for US$20,298 at a recent Zachy's auction in Hong Kong. ASC did not reveal who the winning bid went to.

Another hot lot in the silent auction (bids were submitted on paper) was the two 12-bottle cases of 1999 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion which attracted 13 bids. The highly rated Haut Brion second label often proves exceptional value at auction and the lucky bidder secured the lot for 54,000 yuan.

Among the distinguished guests were the Chateau Latour President Frederic Engerer and Jean-Phillippe Delmas, general manager and wine maker of Chateau Haut Brion. They were personally invited by ASC Fine Wines CEO St Pierre Jr and signed certificates of ownership for the proud winners of the Latour and Haut Brion bids. The money raised is a key contribution to the Shanghai Charity Foundation's efforts. Founded in 1994, the non-profit organization's primary purpose as listed on its Website is to "raise funds, organize charitable activities and promote philanthrophy."

According to Deputy Secretary-General Jin, the money raised will be used to establish the ASC Charity Fund which will be jointly managed by the distributor and the foundation.

ASC has been the Chinese mainland's largest distributor of fine wines since its inception in 1996. The company's portfolio spans a wide array of wines, from everyday wines to blockbuster top chateaux.


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