‘My Idea of Paradise’: Delving Into a Wine Connoisseur’s Treasured Collection

By Serena Sutcliffe

LONDON – Serena Sutcliffe, MW, Honorary Chairman of Sotheby’s Wine on the ‘stupendous’ wines that make up a remarkable collection...

Wine collections of this stellar beauty rarely come up for sale and make one pause for thought, preferably with a glass in hand. When a cellar of this quality is amassed over decades by a true wine lover, there is dedicated passion and attention to detail behind it. A connoisseur of this calibre never missed the glittering vintages nor the finest estates and domains, ensuring he had everything he wanted on first release. The aim was always to spread pleasure, share bottles with friends and enhance the lives of everyone privileged to receive invitations.

The collection that features in the Treasured Collection of a Connoisseur sale in London on 16 November means a great deal to me because of the generosity of its owner and the hospitality shown to my husband and me by all the family. I can therefore say that the many stupendous wines I have drunk with this great host have been deeply impressive and on peak performance. Emerging from the most perfect storage, every wine always lived up to its reputation, often surpassing it.


Inevitably, when collectors like this embark on following their ‘calling’, the cellar fills up, just as the walls become crowded with pictures and book shelves groan from accumulated tomes. In spite of all the inroads made into this wine cellar, it grew in size until a point where a judicious cull is needed.

We are honoured to be asked to bring these glorious wines to a world-wide audience and I can honestly say that some of them would be near to irreplaceable due to their pedigree and the way in which they have been meticulously cared for.

The great loves of this connoisseur’s wine life are the grandest Bordeaux crus classés and the classiest white Burgundy. Dinners at this very special table usually begin with the finest Champagne, followed by white Burgundy, a couple of Bordeaux First Growths (just to compare….), Yquem and then a memorable Cognac. Try as we might, stocks were not exhausted and it is breathtaking to see the range of Petrus, the 1959s and 1961s (have they ever been bettered?) and the ‘grand format’ bottles, just to alight at random on some gems from the collection.

PETRUS 1975, 6 MAGNUMS, ESTIMATE £12,000–16000, PETRUS 1975, 1.DMAG – 3 LITRE, ESTIMATE £5,000–6,000, PETRUS 1975, 1 IMPERIAL – 6 LITRE, ESTIMATE £10,000–12,000, PETRUS 1978, 12 BOTTLES, ESTIMATE £11,000–14,000, PETRUS 1978, 1 D.MAG- 3 LITRE, ESTIMATE £3,800–4,800, PETRUS 1982, 1 D.MAG-3 LITRE, ESTIMATE £12,000–18,000.

The outstanding element of this sale is that virtually all these legendary wines are ready to drink, the most prized quality in a wine collection in these days of instant gratification – although you might be altruistic enough to keep the 2009s for your children! But, to be able to compare Bordeaux 1982s across the board, 1989s with 1990s, or see the greatest 1975s, that last vintage of another epoch that has consistently amazed me with its depth and complexity, all this does not come our way very often.

And the Champagne is show-stopping, for me the most exciting moment of any gathering, when the bubbles surge and the anticipation of the whole evening lies ahead. And Dom Pérignon and Salon with bottle age, these are my idea of paradise.

This collection of the most extraordinary wines ever made glows with the warmth of its owner and it is a testament to the highest traditions of wine appreciation and knowledge.

The Treasured Collection of a Connoisseur sale is in London on 16 November.

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