Auction house Sotheby's has shown that demand for fine wine in Asia remains strong in the face of the economic downturn, after its first auction in Hong Kong surpassed pre-sale estimates.

The auction, which offered 750 lots and included some of the most prestigious Bordeaux Chateaux wines, such as Romanee Conti and Latour, raised HK49.9m (US$6.4m), Sotheby's said today (6 April).

The group had estimated a sales total of between HK20m and HK29m.

"The results are a wonderful reflection of the quality of the lots that we offered and also of the incredible appetite in Asia for coveted wines with excellent provenance," said Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of Sotheby's International Wine Department.

"There were many new buyers from mainland China in particular," she said.

The sale suggests that demand for fine wine, especially in the emerging Asian market, remains stronger in 2009 than some had feared.

Fine wine prices slid against a tough economic climate in 2008.

Sotheby's rival Christie's said in December that global fine wine sales for 2008 totalled US$50.7m (EUR41m), still the third highest figure on record but lower than sales of nearly $72m (EUR53m) in 2007.