The so-called ‘auction of the century’ at Sotheby’s last week, when a dazzling array of French wines from practically all the great vintages and estates were sold, raised a whopping £2.4m for the single owner. That represented 87.9% sold by lot, and 96% by value.
Petrus proved the most expensive, with six magnums of the Pomerol estate’s 1989 vintage raising £30,550. A case of Guigal’s Cote Rotie La Mouline 1978 fetched £22,325, while seven bottles of Latour 1961 sold for £16,450. On a per-bottle basis, the dearest of the lot were three bottles of 1947 Cheval Blanc, which made £17,625 (nearly £6,000 each).
It was the highest overall London total in over a decade at Sotheby’s for a single-owner sale, as well as being the best figure in 2015 for a London wine sale at the New Bond Street auctioneers. “We’re delighted,” Stephen Mould, their head of wines for Europe, said.
“It was a fitting tribute to a collection of this magnitude. This exceptional cellar featured some of the finest gems from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone, and the prices were reflective of that. Rare Bordeaux was hotly contested, and bidding reached a crescendo for rare Grand Cru white Burgundy, especially Leflaive.” Sotheby’s next London auction is 27 January, while their first Hong Kong one in 2015 is four days earlier.
Meanwhile, on February 18 in London, Bonham’s will be auctioning a highly rare consignment of 1963 Fonseca Vintage Port. It is part of a pipe (originally 700 bottles) that was shipped in barrel in 1966 for a princely £252, and bottled in London before being kept in a private cellar. As many as 468 bottles remain, and will be sold in 12-bottle lots that are expected to fetch between £1400-1600.
David Guimaraens, Fonseca’s highly respected winemaker, said: “The Fonseca 1963 is my reference vintage Port, made by my father Bruce. If any of the vintage ports that I make in my career are as spectacular as this 1963 after 50 years, then I will feel satisfied with what I have achieved.”
Richard Harvey MW, Bonham’s director of wine, commented that “it is very unusual to find a pipe of Port almost untouched. The fact it is Fonseca 1963, one of the truly great ports of the 20th century, is even more astonishing, and will excite the interests of Port lovers everywhere.”