V alued at $2.6-4m, this sale features impressive selections from four collections well known to Sotheby’s Wine for their distinguished palates and impeccable sourcing. Indisputably great wines are found across all 4 cellars, including all of the first growth Bordeaux; Guigal’s single vineyard Côte Rôtie bottlings from iconic vintages; Burgundy from DRC, Rousseau, Roumier, René Engel, Dujac and Bachelet; Champagne icons such as 1996 Krug and Salon Le Mesnil; and legendary bottles such as Penfolds Grange 1990 and Masseto 2006.
Cellar 1 | Favorite Wines from the Meticulous Cellar of a Devoted Collector
A cellar that is amassed with the utmost skill, sensibility and sheer love of subject will inevitably enchant others with the same tastes and discernment. So, when one of our most knowledgeable and loyal clients decides to part with some of his most delectable treasures, our reaction was huge enthusiasm, tempered by ( just) suppressed elements of envy since we ourselves can merely view these wines before watching them depart to new homes. However, we lived vicariously while working on this sale and I can honestly say that every wine here would give immense joy if it happened to grace my glass this evening. In this métier, there is a tendency to fall in love with one’s subject.
The glass that I would choose if I had free rein to pick virtually any wine in this bijou collection would be a fine-quality, handsome, ‘Burgundian’ ballon, or balloon glass. Of course, this would be ideal for the extremely noble red Burgundies in this sale, if only to revel in the three decades of Rousseau vintages. Then, the extraordinary range of Guigal’s great trio, La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque, demand this generous glass shape to expose these wines’ rich, Syrah spiciness. The same glass would not come amiss either when ‘sampling’ Hermitage La Chapelle 1978. And then I would also pour Masseto, Penfolds Grange and Calera Pinot Noir into these generous goblets as all these magnificent ‘leaders of the pack’ simply adore this space and surface to enhance their huge opulence and diversity of scents and flavours. Perhaps, above all, I would reach for my ballon if I had in my possession the wondrous array of Ridge Monte Bello in this collection. This has always been my California lodestar, the wine that fascinates and intrigues me in equal doses, satisfying the intellectual and the sensual to the ultimate degree.
When looking at the utterly impressive First and equivalent Bordeaux First Growths in this collection, some might quibble with the use of a ballon glass, but maybe they have never swirled an Haut Brion 1989, a Mouton or a Cheval Blanc 1982, or perhaps a luscious Margaux 1990, in one of these magical drinking vessels. Now is your chance! I would, however, reach for a tulip-shaped glass for a sampling of the classic Vintage Ports in this sale, with special emphasis on the splendid 1977s, the year of my marriage and doing just as harmoniously!
This is a delightful offering of some of the world’s most exalted wines and we are very proud to be able to bring it to our International clients who will immediately appreciate it as the collection of a very special connoisseur.e
Cellar 2 | Treasures from a Manhattan Collector
A wine collection such as this can be compared to coming upon Sleeping Beauty, a rapturous discovery of something perfect. However, instead of human radiance, we have here vinous glory, wines of stunning quality that promise endless enjoyment. The words that immediately spring to mind are impeccable, top-flight and, above all, pristine splendour. If one sat down to write a shopping list of France’s most desirable wines, this collection would fit the bill for very many connoisseurs. Such a plethora of complete cases is astonishing, the hard currency of hedonistic pleasure and sheer intrinsic value in terms of excellence. Many now create bucket lists of places they have to see, but this surely is the ultimate wine-lovers’ wish list, an inventory of the imagination that could become reality for those who participate in this sale.
Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are the linchpins of this collection, the wine world’s journey round the Sun. Only the best made it into this collection, the best terroirs, producers and vintages. Bordeaux’s First Growths and those châteaux that rival their position lead the charge, in years that, for the most part, can be approached from now onwards. The only exception I would make would be the marvellous 2010s which clearly need time and patience to fulfil their huge potential - the children, or even grandchildren, beckon here. There is ample scope for Right Bank/Left Bank comparisons, plus vintage showdowns throughout the most lauded years of the Nineties and the great 2000s themselves.
Burgundy’s brilliance shines brightly, with DRC, Rousseau, Roumier, Liger-Belair, Ponsot, Bachelet, Fourrier and Dujac to the fore, an extraordinary exercise in differing vineyards and styles of winemaking. There is not a wine here that I would refuse if offered any of them tonight (wishful thinking never did much harm....), such is the gorgeous character of Pinot Noir at its apogee, always ready to spread its charm at any point in its life.
Majestic red wines should be preceded, in the most civilised meals, by the greatest Champagnes and, with this collection, you need look no further. Krug, Dom Pérignon, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill and Salon perform to perfection and, here, there is more than enough to go round - even if I am lurking in the background!
This is a wine collection that will delight for years to come, not least because there is an important enhancing factor - the generous provision of many magnificent Magnums and joyous Jeroboams which can only help us happily into the next decade.
Cellar 3 | The Exceptional Private Cellar, Part II
T he wine collection of a very good friend of Sotheby’s was always going to be a highlight of our sales programme, but this is also a purist’s cellar of true perfection. It is a Burgundy Bonanza of the first order, a line-up of wines that fly the flag for this magical mosaic of vineyards, now a magnet for connoisseurs from the entire world. The drawback to this relatively recent phenomenon is that there is less fabulous wine to go round so we are happy that this sale will help to redress the problem, with a magnificent selection of the region’s finest growers.
Pride of place might have to go, in this instance, to the wines from Domaine René Engel, since the vintages in this sale were made by brilliant grandson Philippe Engel whose untimely death in 2005 deprived us of decades more Grands Crus touched by his talent. However, this revered domain faces stiff competition in this treasure-filled sale, as DRC, Rousseau, Roumier, Mugnier, de Vogüé, Dujac and Drouhin are amongst those jostling for your attention. The wines come from outstanding years, with a lovely showing of 2002s which have such appeal in Burgundy, oozing charm, scent and seduction.
Savouring these landmark Pinot Noirs, in one’s imagination of course, thoughts turn to all the great, autumnal game dishes. As it happens, I had my first grouse of the season last night, but it was accompanied by a Bordeaux, Cheval Blanc 1978, which also makes an appearance in this sale! The combination was most felicitous, I can assure you, as any of the front-line Bordeaux legends here would prove. The same could be said for the classic examples of Hermitage in this cellar, as well as a very handsome Jeroboam of Beaucastel’s Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1990 which would cause a stir this winter at a joyous gathering of gastronomes. In fact, the whole collection abounds in gorgeous big formats, an extra plus to an already mouthwatering range of wines.
The happiness factor spills over into terrific, topnotch Champagne, hand-picked white Burgundy, a lovely sampling of Harlan Estate and.....Ridge Monte Bello 1991, which was always a monument for me.
This cellar is a testament to taste and a reflection of the character of the consignor, whose intelligence, knowledge and generosity are so much in evidence in the composition of this life-enhancing collection of wines.
Cellar 4 | Magnificent Wines from an Important Newport Collection
T his is a wine collection that has clearly been both loved and enjoyed over the years, but which has, happily, left us with an enviable array of first class names, irresistible magnets for those in the know. The cellar majors in Bordeaux, with Burgundian treasures crowding in behind. The Rhône, Italy, California and Australia are not forgotten, with only the best allowed through the door. It is clear that a very sure palate guided the buying policy involved in creating this, with personal favourites followed through the vintages. The Seventies, Eighties, Nineties and post Millennium years are all represented, in their fascinating diversity and states of maturity. This collection is a real invitation to the dinner table!
The selection covers a rich line-up of First Growths - nothing less would do here. Haut Brion and La Mission make a delectable display, with a double magnum of the great La Mission 1982 a particular star. Cheval Blanc is a prominent feature, with the chance to compare two huge successes for the property - the 1998 and the 2000. You could even do the same with Petit Cheval! And for potential generous hosts, there is a great opportunity for acquiring bottles of all the top 1982s for the ultimate assessment occasion - I would also try it with the 1989s and 1990s, where one always learns something while enjoying oneself immensely.
The precious choice in Burgundy is led by DRC, with an admixture of de Vogüé and Leroy, while the Rhône is headed by Guigal. It is very rewarding to serve Penfolds Grange alongside the Northern Rhône, the great Shiraz/Syrah comparison. It is not a matter of one being ‘better’ than another, but rather a celebration of myriad tastes on a theme. This applies to so much tasting (and drinking) that we do, where the stimulus is the sheer variety of scents and flavours at our disposal, enough to keep us riveted for a lifetime.
This is indeed a cellar for the connoisseur drinker who is seeking pleasure and knowledge in equal quantities. The temptations here are manifold.