A trio of exceptional offerings will headline Sotheby’s Finest & Rarest Wines sale in London on 11 December 2019. The 625-lot sale is estimated to bring a combined total in the region of £1.2 million.
The auction opens with a fabulous selection from Vandermeulen, the famous Belgian bottler, with parcels of Cheval Blanc and Margaux 1947, Petrus 1949 and 1952 and La Mission Haut Brion 1955. This collection is followed by a Talbot superlot, a century-spanning vertical from 1926 to the outstanding 2010 vintage, all direct from the Château. Further glamour is provided by wines from the noted French fashion designer Jean Patou, the most elegant man from the Roaring Twenties.
The Great Vandermeulen Collection
T his superb array is the property of a descendant of the original Vandermeulen family. The collection has always been in the family and so is offered with impeccable provenance. It has recently been removed from high quality underground storage in northern continental Europe. The bottles have been moved once, in the 1980s, having lain undisturbed in their previous country cellar since original acquisition in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Belgian firm of Vandermeulen is a superb example of the golden age of merchant bottlings. Vandermeulen-Decannière, as the company is properly called, have labels that are highly identifiable for their trademark coat of arms and ink stamped vintages. This coat of arms represents the ancient walled city of Ostend with three keys for the three entrances. For collectors of fine wines, this bottling is a rock-solid marker of quality and longevity and is characterised by the iconic wines and vintages that the merchant sold.
The company was founded in the coastal town of Ostend in West Belgium, by Jules Vandermeulen (b. 1865). The bottle labels bear his initial and family name, in addition to that of his wife, Irma de Cannière (b. 1869), whom he married in 1892. Shortly after the vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy, Jules Vandermeulen would select the individual barrels which would then be sent to Ostend for further maturation, a process common to the major Belgian merchants of the time. This difficult and time-consuming selection process was nevertheless critical to the long-term success of these wines. The early clients were the professional classes, factory owners and the clergy, and collections of these fine wines were often passed down through families as dowries. The firm was later taken over by their sons, Polydore and Maurice.
This collection represents most of the Bordeaux châteaux that Vandermeulen handled. The wines, and especially the vintages, selected by the bottler were very successful indeed. They may have ceased bottling in the late 1950s but this insistence on quality is what continues to give these bottles such renown even today.
The Unique Talbot Collection, 100 Years of the Cordier Family
T his century-spanning vertical, from 1926 to the outstanding 2010 vintage, comprises 128 bottles, 10 magnums, 3 double magnums and one Imperial. Among these wonders are the 1926, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1959, 1961 vintages and all the great years of the past four decades. What makes this vertical even more special is its impeccable provenance: not one single bottle in this collection has ever surfaced from the cellars of the Château and they are offered for the first and last time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cordier family ownership.
The successful bidder and three guests will receive an exclusive invitation to a private lunch at the Château with the Cordier family where magnums of Talbot 1945 and 2003 as well as the rarely-seen Caillou Blanc 2015 will be served.
Rare Bottles from the Private Cellar of Jean Patou from the Chapon Fin
S otheby's is honoured to present a selection of rare wine that belonged to the late designer and creator Jean Patou (1887-1936). A hedonist, he was considered the most flamboyant fashion designer from the Roaring Twenties, who invented Joy, "the most expensive perfume in the world" and dressed stars, from French actress Mistinguett to Josephine Baker. A real 'dandy', he had the reputation for being the most elegant man in Europe, once stating in an interview that, 'to be truly soigné, a man should have at least 80 suits”.
The wines offered here have lain undisturbed in the cellar of his sumptuous villa, an Art Deco masterpiece in the hills overlooking Biarritz. Seeing the sheer quantity of wine listed in the old leather-bound cellar book and the rows of empty magnums of 1920’s Champagne from Bollinger to the great Salon Le Mesnil, together with hundreds of faded labels of legendary Bordeaux Grands Crus, one can only imagine the lavish parties that took place. The New Yorker described one of Jean Patou's parties in 1930 where his opulent garden, complete with three small lion cubs, was completely adorned in silver foil - including even the trees!
Jean Patou loved powerboats, fast cars and indulged himself at the world’s best restaurants of the time including the famed Chapon Fin in Bordeaux where he purchased the vast majority of the wines offered in this sale. A destination for the cream of society on their route to Biarritz and to the Villa of Jean Patou, Le Chapon Fin was known as the “restaurant of the Kings”, thanks to a succession of royal visitors from King Manuel II of Portugal to Edward VII. The restaurant wine selection was so extraordinary that King Alfonso XIII of Spain supposedly had his own personal cellar set up at the restaurant.