Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The Andrew Lloyd Webber wine collection offered by Sotheby's (25/20/12% buyer's premium) at the island's luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel on January 22 was the 12th consecutive white-glove wine sale that the auctioneers have staged in Asia.

With all 746 lots finding buyers, the sale lasted six hours, raising a hammer total of HK$35.8m (£3.03m) and exceeding the HK$21.8m-32m estimate.

Among the classic French wines (8837 bottles in all) were some of the finest white Burgundies ever offered for sale in the region. The top lot, however, was a Bordeaux: a case of Château Pétrus 1982 that made HK$500,000 (£42,375).

Lord Lloyd Webber, who had started collecting wine while still at school in the 1960s, said after the sale: "I hope the new owners enjoy my wines as much as I have, and I look forward to reacquainting myself with them in restaurants all over China when Cats starts its national tour in Mandarin."

This was the second time that the composer had offloaded a large volume of wine through Sotheby's. He sold more than 18,000 bottles at a £3.7m auction in Bond Street in 1997 – a total that was a record for a wine sale at the time.

The fact that Hong Kong was the location for sale this time was testament to the new realities of the market.

Asian buyers have shown seemingly insatiable demand for the best European wines in recent years, particularly wealthy collectors from China and Singapore – prices for Château Lafite Rothschild, for instance, jumped by around 20 per cent in 2008 when it was announced that the bottles would be etched with the Chinese figure of eight.

According to figures released by Sotheby's and Christie's, the combined premium-inclusive total for worldwide wine sales for the last year was £102.6m, making 2010 the most lucrative year in this sector for the two auctioneers so far. Significantly, Hong Kong has now overtaken New York and London in terms of their auction totals.

Sotheby's global total from wine auctions last year was £56.7m, double the 2009 figure, and their successes in Hong Kong included a record for a single standard-sized bottle when three bottles of Château Lafite 1869 each made HK$1.82m (£153,815) in Hong Kong in October.

Christie's made £45.8m from their wine sales worldwide – a figure up 46 per cent on the previous year and on a par with their record total from 2007.

The highest grossing wine auctioneers in 2010, however, were New York's Acker Merrall & Condit. They made a total of £64.1m, with their six sales in Hong Kong contributing HK$295m (£25m). Their first sale in Hong Kong of 2011 took place on January 21-22, with 1200 lots from various cellars making a premium-inclusive HK$84.6m (£7.17m).

By Alex Capon

£1 = HK$11.8