There now seems little doubt Hong Kong will have by the end of the year firmly established itself as the second biggest fine wine auction market in the world - an incredible feat given such sales were a rarity in the city as little as 18 months ago, according to Independent.

But how times have changed since the Hong Kong Government abolished all duties on wines in February 2008.

Over the weekend of October 3-4, international auction house Sotheby`s collected more than HK$60 million (5.3 million euros) from a two-day clear out of one man`s personal wine collection, putting Hong Kong on target to top the US$60 million (41 million euro) mark which would double the total expected this year in London, traditionally the world`s second largest market.

Among the bottles sold was what Sotheby`s claims to be a world auction record for a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1982 Imperial - HK$726,000 (64,000 euros).

New York remains the world`s biggest wine auction town and looks untouchable thanks to the more than US$100 million (69 million euros) in sales estimated for 2009.

Hong Kong has now seen sales of close to HK$400 million (35 million euros) this year, and there are a number of auctions still to come - not least of which are the Zachys event on October 30 ( and the Bonhams event on November 27 (

Last year the city saw US$27 million (18.5 million euros) in total wine sales at auction.

There have been a number of notable sales in Hong Kong this year, in particular the HK$164,560 (14,600 euros) paid for 1928 Krug collection vintage at an auction hosted by the US-based Acker Merrall & Condit in March - a world record for an auctioned bottle of champagne.

"[The past 12 months has proved] that Hong Kong can hold multiple wine auctions and there is a consistent and demand for fine wines. On the whole, it helped foster a stronger wine culture in Hong Kong which is now well positioned in the marketplace to become the wine hub in the Asia region,`` John Kapon, president and director of Acker Merrall & Condit, told Relaxnews.

He said his company was now working on organizing a series of auctions in Hong Kong for 2010 ands he understood other noted auction houses were doing the same.

Wine auctions coming up....