A t the conclusion of a momentous year for Sotheby’s Wine, our London team is delighted to present the final auction before Christmas with: 100 Years of Jaboulet | A Connoisseur’s Collection | Finest & Rarest Wines.
This outstanding sale begins with a very special consignment, direct from the cellars of Paul Jaboulet Aîné, in celebration of this year’s 100th anniversary of their flagship Hermitage La Chapelle cuvée. Following this strong start, we are treated to a single-owner collection that represents the life’s work of a passionate British wine-lover and collector, who evidently has a focused taste for the very best wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, alongside a deep love of blue-chip Champagne.
Completing this very exciting auction we have selections from some of the UK and Europe’s most esteemed cellars, with perfect provenance and meticulous storage histories. These include a collection of d’Yquem spanning more than 2 centuries, wide-ranging offerings from DRC, Leflaive and many more of Burgundy’s greatest estates, stunning First Growths from across the last 7 decades, alongside much more.
The name of Paul Jaboulet is legendary not just within the Rhône valley, but amongst the wider pantheon of the world’s great domaines. Founded nearly 200 years ago, in 1834, by Antoine Jaboulet, what began as a small domaine and négociant business has now been transformed into one of the region’s leading lights.
This iconic producer is most famous for their flagship Hermitage La Chapelle, one of the great wines of France overall, let alone just the Rhône. This jewel in the crown of Jaboulet’s domaine is named after the small chapel of St Christopher that sits at the top of the Hermitage hill, above the town of Tain. According to legend, the chapel was built by an injured knight returning from the crusades in the 13th century, who decided to live out his days there as a hermit, calling the chapel his home and so giving his name to the hill that has latterly become famous for producing amongst the most fabled wines in the world.
In 1919, the Jaboulet family purchased land on the hill of Hermitage which included this tiny but beautiful chapel, and two years later saw the first release of their new Hermitage cuvée, so named La Chapelle after the chapel that they now owned. 2021 therefore marks the 100th anniversary of this iconic cuvee, and we are privileged to be able to celebrate this milestone in partnership with Paul Jaboulet Aîné and its present-day owners, the Frey family, who have without question taken the estate to new heights since their acquisition of the domaine in 2006.
The incredible collection that has been released to mark this special occasion is comprised of bottles, magnums and extraordinarily rare larger formats that have never left Jaboulet’s cellar, in truly pristine condition. It is made up only of the very best vintages for La Chapelle from the last 72 years, between 1949 and the present day, representing some of the most famous wines ever produced, including the legendary 1961 and 1978. The vintages released here truly represent two golden eras for Jaboulet’s La Chapelle; we find incredible examples of bottles and magnums from the heyday decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, alongside very rare large formats of the most iconic vintages from the estate’s modern era, including an incredible multi-format lot of 2019 La Chapelle which offers the lucky buyer the chance to visit the estate themselves. These 115 lots are a fantastic celebration not just of the amazing legacy of the Jaboulet family, but also of the brilliance of Caroline Frey and her team, who have done so much to restore this estate to its former glories, and placed it right back at the top of the tree where it deserves to remain.
All of the vintages in this sale from 1949 to 1991 were recorked at the winery by Jaboulet’s current team, between 2016 and 2021. During the recorking process, every bottle was tasted by the winemaker, and only those in excellent condition were kept. Any topping up was always done with the exact same vintage as the original bottle.
“The release of the 2019 vintage marks the 100th anniversary of the acquisition of La Chapelle de l’Hermitage by the Jaboulet family. Hermitage La Chapelle has become legendary over the years, and holds a special place in the hearts of all lovers of great wine. We are delighted to be able to celebrate this event in partnership with Sotheby’s, who have followed and supported La Chapelle over many decades, and to be able to offer the most beautiful and historic vintages from our cellar for wine-lovers to acquire and enjoy throughout the world”
The wonderful collection that forms the next segment of this outstanding auction is a study in great taste and careful curation. This is a cellar that has been painstakingly put together by a focused and passionate collector who, alongside an evident appreciation of the most sought-after estates in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, clearly has a shrewd understanding of where quality lies outside of France, with an amazing selection of the best wines of California, Spain, Australia and beyond on offer alongside the greatest and most historic Gallic gems.
In amongst this stunning cellar, of special note is an outstanding pair of ex-Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 bottles, authenticated and reconditioned by the estate in 2019, a beautiful OWC of 6-bottles of DRC’s 2002 La Tâche (too often these days only seen as part of assortment cases), as well as a striking volume of 1989 Petrus that will become a jewel in the crown of any lucky buyer’s cellar. Beyond these, the depth of Prestige Cuvée Champagne offered here is spectacular. Across the board, these wines are sure to bring a vast amount of joy to the winning bidders both now and over the coming years. All the wines have been kept under lock and key in professional, temperature-controlled storage since their purchase, and so these can be bought, enjoyed and shared with the utmost confidence. We are certain that they will be!
Château d’Yquem is truly one of the world’s most timeless wines, an elixir that so often evades description in our ordinary, everyday language. Yquem has been appreciated for centuries, served at many of the world’s most momentous and historic occasions, and as a wine the liquid inside the bottle has a capacity to age that is almost unrivalled in the vinous universe.
How lucky we are, then, that an esteemed European collector has decided to part with such an incredible selection of bottles spanning more than 2 centuries, giving us the chance to experience firsthand just how eternal, and how defiant of description, these stunning wines are. Part of a wider collection, surely one of the world’s greatest when it comes to Sauternes, these bottles were painstakingly assembled over a number of years, acquired only via reputable merchants and agents of the Chateau. With vintages spanning 1857 to 1924, this stunning collection represents one of the most exciting verticals of Yquem that we have brought to market in a long time!
From the cellars of a group of true gourmands, the collections that make up the second half of this auction represent an embarrassment of riches. Alongside rare large-formats of red Bordeaux from the 1940s, in the guise of wonderful magnums of Pichon Lalande 1945 and 1947, we find more than seven decades of beautifully stored classed growth claret, with the full suite of First Growths represented throughout the second half of the twentieth century (including 1953 Latour and 1959 Lafite en magnum). Further to this, there is an extensive selection of top of the range bottles from DRC and Leflaive, cases of cult Burgundian Mugneret-Gibourg, and superb mature Champagne at the peak of its powers. Not to be outdone by France, the rest of the world is well-covered, with strong representation from the major Tuscan and Piemontese icons, the Napa Valley’s leading cult producers, and a truly wonderful selection of aged Vintage Port which comes to market at the perfect time of year, to be poured and enjoyed throughout the ensuing winter months.
These collections represent a lifetime of work, and are offered with impeccable provenance having been perfectly cared for. The top-drawer cellars on display were assembled painstakingly over the course of more than four decades, and the amazing quality of the wines contained herein, across the board, is testament to the generosity of these collectors, and their desire to open and share the world’s greatest wines with friends and family, far and wide. The scale and quality of vintages on offer mean that there is truly something for everyone, whether your search is for bottles perfectly at their peak now, cases to be laid down for decades more, or to build a complete collection that can be gradually enjoyed as each wine reaches its plenitude.
Read on for details of the glorious treasures that make up each of these marvelous cellars.
The Domaine, as it is known, is iconic. Much more importantly, it also produces the most extraordinary wines in Burgundy - and it has been doing so for a long time. The generations responsible for the Domaine change, but the terroir remains. And these are very special vineyard parcels indeed, married to meticulous care and philosophy leading to low yields and healthy, ripe grapes, at whatever cost. From the 1990s, vineyard policy has been organic, with co-owner Aubert de Villaine monitoring everything with his usual attention to detail. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines evolve and develop dimensions in a way that resembles a mosaic – points of bouquet and flavor making up a harmonious whole that becomes more beautiful as it unfolds in the glass. Yes, these are hedonistic wines and yes, they are not like any other. The trick is in capturing what these remarkable plots of vines can give and letting them express themselves through minimum intervention and enlightened nurturing.
SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
Winemaking occupies a space right on the liminal boundary between Art and Science, and never is that more clear than in the wares of Burgundy’s leading addresses. If art is the expression of the human soul in terms of a tangible, worldly product, then the wines highlighted here are at once works of art and perfect snapshots of their creators’ philosophies. Looking at the performance of white Burgundy over the past two years, there is absolutely no doubt that the wines are experiencing a moment in the sun right now. It seems that there is an almost insatiable worldwide demand for pristine, aged examples of the glorious and mercurial elixirs that hail from the Chardonnay vines of the Cote d’Or’s most hallowed sites. The Cote’s top white producers are represented phenomenally here, across all levels of the classification and with some painfully rare gems available!
There is good reason for the enduring presence of Bordeaux’s great names within cellars of the foremost collectors worldwide. The consistency with which the Bordelais, over centuries, have been able to produce wines that continue to find themselves at the pinnacle of global wine appreciation is truly astonishing. Icons of both the Left and Right Banks have an ability to gain complexity and character as they age, which is almost unrivalled in the rest of the fine wine world. The region’s wines have occupied a space at the top table for centuries, and the enjoyment of these wines has been a constant for countless significant characters, alongside myriad major events, throughout at least 500 years of recent history. It is therefore a delight to be able to present such a treasure trove of pristine, ready-to-drink superstars here, alongside various younger vintages that are all but certain to become future legends with cellaring. The wines on offer here will therefore suit the gourmand who wishes to drink the world’s greatest wines right away, just as much as the collector looking to amass a cellar for the future.
Perfectly stored mature Champagne is one of the wine world’s great hedonistic experiences; all too often these wines are popped and consumed early in their life, but give them the chance to age, as the examples on offer here have been, and they assume otherworldly levels of complexity and character. With the range of vintages, formats and houses on offer across these collections, whether your taste is for Dom Pérignon or Krug, Bollinger or Pol Roger, Cristal or Taittinger, there are myriad bottles and rare large formats of interest here.
The vast majority of Sotheby's Wine auctions focus on the well-known names from Bordeaux and Burgundy, where our expertise and experience has helped us find some of the most exciting collections ever seen for sale. But our passion for wine extends way beyond these two stalwarts of the fine wine market and it is exciting to see wines and growers from other regions infiltrating the pack. From the iconic Spanish Vega Sicilia, through all the major Super Tuscans and Napa estates, to a delightful selection of mature German Riesling and wonderful Vintage Ports from the 1940s to 1980s, this selection offers the whole nine yards.