The Connoisseur’s Collection: Sharing Wines with Dr. Gordon Ku

By Serena Sutcliffe, M.W.

I t is a great privilege for Sotheby’s to bring to auction this spectacular collection of wines, the property of Dr. Gordon Ku, one of the most discerning and charming wine lovers to cross my path. Those who were fortunate enough to know him would know his infectious delight in wine. The table where he was sitting – whether for a dinner or for a tasting – would always be one of the most joyous. I have many happy memories of sharing wines with him in Singapore. His enthusiasm when he alighted upon a great wine enhanced the occasion for everyone. He bought wine with care and love – and then he used it! This is a collection of a "real" wine lover, one who pulled corks and invited friends to enjoy bottles with his family. The gaps in a cellar would always reveal this tendency, showing the owner’s curiosity and hospitality. Younger vintages, of course, often remain in complete cases, but wines that are ready to drink need to be explored.

Lot 3415 Romanée Conti 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (1 BT), Estimates: HK$130,000-180,000, Lot 3411 Romanée Conti 2012 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (1 BT), Estimates: HK$100,000-140,000

And exploration is what can be done here by those who are lucky enough to acquire wines from this collection. Gordon Ku turned principally to Europe for his wines, and where France is concerned, he left no stone or vine, untouched, ranging over the country’s most riveting wine regions and pinning down the greatest examples of each genre. Perhaps the most sensational element is the White Burgundy, a mouth-watering, jealousy-inducing line-up of the most stunning wines and the most revered crus. The Leflaive Grands Crus alone will stop you in your tracks. Where else could one find such treasures? There is the ultimate battle between Bâtard and Bienvenues Bâtard Montrachet, but then the Chevalier Montrachet might sneak in. Turning to the Premiers Crus, the stand-off is between Clavoillon and Combettes, Pucelles with Folatières. This is the stuff dreams are made of – at least, my dreams. As if this were not enough, the greatest Lafon wines are here, as are Henri Boillot’s finest examples and Joseph Drouhin’s exceptionally pure, sleek wines, followed by Michel Niellon on the Côte d’Or and superb Raveneau from Chablis. It is more than appropriate that such a glorious collection of White Burgundy should come to auction in Hong Kong, where seafood is so appreciated and so understood, cooked in either Asian or European mode.

One can thus glide easily to Red Burgundy, where rapture awaits! There are DRC gems, including great assortment cases, and fabulous Rousseau wines – Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes 2002 anyone? The Faiveley featured is starry; I taste their wines every year and am always deeply impressed. Domaine Ponsot is here in abundance, with particularly exciting Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes, and do not overlook de Vogüé’s Musigny Vieilles Vignes either, a veritable fest of old vine concentration. The choice of 1999s, that most tempting of Burgundy vintages, is eye-watering, as are all the 2009s and 2010s if one is thinking of one’s children. There is real, even rhapsodic, depth in this department.

Bordeaux is not to be outdone, with Haut Brion and La Mission, Latour, Lafite, Lascases, Margaux and Mouton – blink, and you might miss a 6 litre awaiting your call. There is phenomenal Petrus, including a magnum and a double magnum of 1970, an absolute show-stopper. I would also have my eye on a collection of wonderfully rich Pichon Lalande in great alluring years, many in landmark large formats.

Lot 3280 Chambolle Musigny, Les Amoureuses 1999 Domaine Georges Roumier (5 BT), Estimates: HK$120,000-170,000, Lot 3281 Bonnes Mares 1999 Domaine Georges Roumier (6 BT), Estimates: HK$75,000-100,000

The Rhône wines are unerringly well chosen, with Guigal’s La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque to the fore, with Chave and La Chapelle right up there. And Champagne was a favourite in this household, with Dom Pérignon galore, in both white and pink colours – try the 2000 on its twentieth birthday. Then there is gorgeous Cristal, also in both colours, and Krug.

Leaving France, and it is definitely worth the trip, go straight to Spain and Vega Sicilia, in all its glory, including magnums of 1970 and lashings of the superb 1994. Continue to Italy, where great Gaja, Masseto, Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Solaia and Tignanello await.

Having just reveled in some historic Ridge Monte Bello (I was lucky enough to have the 1990 the other day, proving how magnificently this wine keeps), I would urge you to linger over the epic Californians in this sale, with legendary Dominus, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, with the superlative 1974, Bond and Ridge.

This is the collection of a connoisseur, for connoisseurs, while it is also a collection to take hedonists to heaven. We are very honoured to be entrusted with its distribution to our most knowledgeable clients.

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