Top wineries support French Red Cross in Christie’s “Once in a Lifetime Experiences” sale

Geoffrey DeanThere are auctions, and there are auctions. This one, though, takes the proverbial biscuit. It took my breath away. And the proceeds are going to a darned good cause – the French Red Cross. Yes, Christie’s are dressing it up as a celebration of their 250th anniversary globally (and their 30th in Asia) but good on them and the 84 leading estates and wineries of the world who have donated the wine from their own library stock. But ‘when is it?’, I hear you asking. This Friday, May 27 at 1700 Hong Kong time (breakfast time in Europe for those who want to bid online).

Before you start drooling at the mouth when you hear what wines from what years are being put up, a quick quote from Simon Tam, head of wine sales in Asia for Christie’s, on the background to the auction. “Following the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris of November 2015,” he said, “Christie’s and the great estates have come together in a bid to raise funds for the French Red Cross. We are delighted to be presenting this one-of-a-kind, legendary sale [he’s not exaggerating here] to collectors and connoisseurs who seek the finest and rarest wines, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, all in a good cause.” These experiences include lunches, tastings and tours of first growth Bordeaux and other estates that are not normally available.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

It is not just the leading chateaux of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Champagne, Alsace and the Loire who have clubbed together. There are great wines from Germany, Spain and Italy as well as the very best from America and Australia. That’s what makes this auction so special. With apologies to many wonderful wines who merit a mention (the list is too long for a blog of this length), here are some lot highlights.

Starting with Bordeaux, you might fancy a half-case of Lafite (two bottles of the 1985, 1995 and 2005 vintages); or three magnums of Mouton-Rothschild 1989, 1999 & 2009; or an imperial of Petrus 1995; or six bottles of Angelus 2010 single varietal Cabernet Franc (never previously released). There are also many offerings from second and other classed growths – for example, a vertical of ten vintages of Ducru-Beaucaillou 2003-2012 will go under the hammer. Likewise, Yquem are offering a half-case with six different vintages – 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009 & 2011. All these lots come with visits to the chateaux with many frills attached.

Chateau Yquem BottleMoving on to Burgundy, Bouchard Pere & Fils have given a bottle of their 1865 vintage as well as lunch and a tasting. A magnum of DRC 2005 is also up for grabs. Heading north to Champagne, bubbly lovers might fancy one lot that features four magnums of Krug from 1982, 1985, 1989 & 1998.

Elsewhere in Europe, Vega Sicilia, Spain’s most famous producer, have donated six bottles of their top label, Unico, from these vintages: 1922, 1942, 1953, 1964, 1974 & 1982, as well as a visit to the winery, which is almost as hard to get into as Fort Knox. From Italy, Masseto’s library release of vintages from 2006 to 2011 will appeal to many.

So too, in the New World, will various vintages of Screaming Eagle and Grange, but what really caught my eye was ten years of Monte Bello 1990-99 from my favourite American producer, Ridge. What a line-up indeed. The prices paid will make interesting reading for investors.