A bottle of Moutai produced in 1958 was sold for over 1.46 million yuan ($222,235) at an auction in Hangzhou last September, heating up the white liquor market.
In response, Shanghai International Commodity Auction Company decided to hold the first Moutai auction in Shanghai.
It invited more than 600 Shanghai senior citizens to offload their vintage Moutai.
"I watched the TV news last week and learned you can sell your aged Moutai for over 10,000 yuan ($1,522) if it has been kept well," says 71-year-old retired worker Jiang Changrong.
About 110 bottles of Moutai made before 1990 were offered at the Feb 27 auction and nearly all of them sold, with a total transaction price of 5.23 million yuan ($795,300).
The earliest bottle of Moutai liquor on the market is thought to be one produced in 1955 and it was expected to become the "most expensive Moutai in the world", says Fan Ganping, vice-president of the Shanghai International Commodity Auction Company. But, he says, it failed to attract a buyer because the starting price was set too high, at 1.26 million yuan.
The most expensive bottle of Moutai sold for 250,000 yuan at the auction.
"Moutai, especially those produced by the renowned Kweichow Moutai, was a good gift when your friends got married during the 1960s and 1970s, and the older generation often kept them as souvenirs," Fan says, explaining why senior citizens were approached for their vintage bottles.
There are concerns, however, that Moutai manufacturers are inflating the market price.
"It's possible manufacturers are buying vintage Moutai at a relatively high price at auction to promote their brand, so that it will inflate the price," says Tony Jiang, associate wine educator from the Shanghai Wine Club Association.
Xinhua News Agency recently reported that an increasing number of Chinese tourists have been buying Moutai abroad because prices are lower.
The news agency said a 375 milliliter bottle of Flying Moutai sold in Washington for 550 yuan, while the price in China was 1,050 yuan.
At the beginning of 2011 Kweichow Moutai raised the price of its liquor by 20 percent, for a maximum retail price of 959 yuan.
(China Daily 03/02/2011 page18)