Introduction to A Pristine Modern Cellar

By Serena Sutcliffe, MW
I f ever there were a pristine collection of wines, this is it – Pristine Perfection.   If wines could sing, this would be a heavenly chorus.   Those who will drink these wines will certainly break into song, such is their beauty, rarity and sheer come-hither quality.   These are some of the most life-enhancing liquids ever made by man, or woman, and they will spread joy.   The consignor is parting with a proportion of what he has, albeit with a regretful look back as he remembers all the wines he has shared with friends over many years.

When I first realised what we were offering in this sale, the vertical nature of the vintages appeared almost vertiginous.   It seems incredible that one can explore the greatest Burgundy domains, some so small in size, through the fascinating nuances of the different climatical years.   Looking at the DRC, Rousseau and de Vogüé wines in particular, one is reminded of what it is like to taste in these cellars, comparing the infinitely subtle variations of vineyard plot direct from the barrel.   However, here, these precious bottles and, miraculously, a wonderful choice of magnums, are mature enough to be drunk and appreciated from now.   This is what they demand, for their real value is in the experience of their perfume and taste that will imprint themselves on the memory.

The DRC is breathtaking – perhaps La Tâche lies closest to the heart of the consignor.   I can never commit to definitive preferences where The Domaine is concerned, although I was once caught off-guard on a radio programme, when asked what was my very ‘best’ wine, and could only gasp La Tâche 1990 – and yes, there is some in this sale.   The whole range is here in strength, including the magical Montrachet, where we are in holy grail territory.   The Rousseau wines are as starry, with all the Grands Crus, plus Clos St.Jacques which should be a Grand Cru of course, especially in the hands of the Rousseau family.   Then there is a stunning range of de Vogüé Musigny, plus that other Grand Cru manqué, Les Amoureuses, rarely sighted and even more rarely poured into a glass.

All this lines up beside Leroy, Liger Belair, Mugnier, Mongeard Mugneret, A.F. Gros, Clos de Tart and Hudelot Noëllat – and more.   Then there are the white Burgundies that unfurl in glorious fashion – here we can throw in such names, and enchantment, as Ramonet, Roulot, Comtes Lafon and Joseph Drouhin’s Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, but there is also Montrachet from Blain Gagnard and Bouchard Père et Fils, so the stage is set for a truly hedonistic occasion.

If one can tear oneself away from Burgundy, it is logical to regroup in Bordeaux, and you are immediately amongst the First Growths and those that rival them, such as La Mission Haut Brion and Léoville Lascases. The Right Bank features Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Petrus and Lafleur and, again, there are  alluring magnums in the mix.   When contemplating bottle formats, do look at the fabulous Yquem, where there are also half bottles that tempt many worshippers of the most mythical sweet wine in the world.   I am yet to be convinced, as I love Yquem so much that it tends to disappear all too quickly, even from a magnum.

There is much icing on the cake in this superlative sale, notably the tantalising trio of Guigal’s Côte Rôtie treasures, followed by the grandest and most gorgeous wines from Tuscany and Piedmont.   If Masseto is Italy’s Petrus, is Ornellaia Italy’s Margaux and Sassicaia Italy’s Lafite?   Study and comment but, above all, don’t forget to drink as this collection is one of those you cannot miss, such is its show-stopping quality.

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