S otheby’s is delighted to continue its autumn sale season with the first of our December offerings, A Private Single-Owner Collection of Important Champagne and Burgundy, Part III. The sale leads with an array of DRC spanning five decades and three formats before giving way to Roumier Musigny featured in nine vintages. Later in the sale, white Burgundy from DRC, Ramonet and Leflaive give way to Champagne greats such as Krug, Dom Pérignon and Salon. The sale closes with a new-world focus on Masseto from the late-90s into the 2000s and Napa Cult Classics like Maya and Screaming Eagle.
Introduction by Serena Sutcliffe, MW:
A collection of wines that combines classicism with excitement is always a flag-waving event. In this case, one can flourish the colours of France, Italy and America with equal pride, as each country is represented in this sale by wines that do credit both to their nationality and to the brilliance of their winemakers. It is a feast for the eyes and, more importantly, for the palate.
One cannot really cherry pick here – one wants it all. However, I have to confess that I was inexorably drawn to the fizzing array of Champagne, inoculated as I am with the beauty and mystery of these wines. Maybe, in my dreams, I would start with comparing the Blanc de Blancs styles of Krug Clos du Mesnil and Salon, highly recognisable (on a good day) and highly enjoyable on any day. While on the subject of educational vinous comparisons, there is ample opportunity in this cellar for looking at Dom Pérignon at the same time as the later disgorged Dom Pérignon Oenothèque, with its extended ageing giving extra power and depth. What you choose might depend on whether you sip your Champagne before a dinner (or just looking at the sunset?), as opposed to matching it with a dish – try a ceviche of sea bass or scallops.
Personally, I would switch to Dover sole or turbot when turning to the Grand Cru white Burgundies from the Côte de Beaune from this collection, juggling DRC, Leflaive, Ramonet and Henri Boillot at the same time. Then I would choose some game for the equally illustrious Burgundian red Grands Crus – I speak as someone who has just been treated to delicious casseroled partridge, deep in the English countryside, with the trees turning myriad colours all around us. If I digress, it is to take a moment to look at the sheer quality and rarity of these wines, all with bottle age and ready to drink, in time for a line-up of festivities over the next months. DRC is here, in all its force and majesty, magnums included. As if this were not enough, there are Roumier’s magical Musignys and Méo Camuzet’s Au Cros Parantoux to tempt. One commentator I knew used to refer to ‘teaching wines’ and I would happily apply this term when contemplating glasses of these multi-faceted wonders.
Before leaving France, glance at the top Bordeaux crus on offer, including the ever-velvety Pichon Lalande 1982. And then move along to the Yquem – we were recently drinking the 1990 well into the night and there is nothing to rival the persistence of bliss on the palate of this extraordinary work of art (and nature).
California in this collection is signed Dalla Valle Maya, Eisele Vineyard, Screaming Eagle and Harlan, so national honour is more than maintained. Look out for those superb 1994s – there I have really showed my hand!
Italy is represented by its miracle Merlot, Masseto, waving the flag from the Maremma and seducing us with its richness and opulence.
If ever there were a time to spoil oneself, it is now and total immersion in such a plethora of gorgeous wines would be a way to do it. I can only look on and cheer from the sidelines……while wishing all wine lovers the best of luck in experiencing the glories of these exceptional bottles and other enticing formats.
SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
Navigating the Sale
- Lots 1 - 26: DRC in five decades and three formats
- Lots 27 - 35: Roumier Musigny spanning nine vintages
- Lot 36: 1997 Leroy Musigny
- Lots 37 - 40: Henri and Georges Jayer
- Lots 41 - 44: Méo-Camuzet Cros Parantoux
- Lots 45 - 52: DRC Montrachet spanning eight vintages
- Lots 53 - 64: Icons of White Burgundy: Ramonet, Leflaive, Boillot
- Lots 65 - 74: Krug Collection, Clos du Mesnil and Vintage
- Lots 76 - 84: Dom Pérignon, Oenothèque, original release and Rosé
- Lots 85 -90: Champagne greats: Salon, Bollinger and Philipponnat
- Lots 91 - 106 : Iconic Vintages on the Right and Left Bank
- Lots 107 - 110: Masseto 1996 - 2006
- Lots 111 - 129: Napa’s Cult Classics: Araujo, Harlan, Maya and Screaming Eagle
Legends of Champagne
- Lot 65
- Lot 90
- Lot 68
- Lot 81
- Lot 83
- Lot 73
- Lot 88
- Lot 69
- Lot 70
DRC: The Grands Crus
The Domaine, as it is known, is iconic. Much more important, 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.
Please see below for individual vineyard descriptions.
– SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
- DRC Montrachet
- La Tâche
- Romanée St. Vivant
DRC MontrachetFirst produced by the Domaine in 1964, with the first released vintage the 1965, the holding consists of three plots bought in 1963, 1965 and 1980. Le Montrachet always needs to mature in bottle for its full, glorious voluptuous character to open out and stun you with its dimension and complex fruit flavours. The Domaine’s usual late picking might lead one to consume a rare, precious bottle at an early stage, but then one would miss the extraordinary elements of candied fruits and nuts that await the patient. The richness and all-enveloping opulence of this wine reflects the sunlight and warmth of the vineyards here – this is impressive power, plumbing the depths of what Chardonnay can do in an unique and very precious setting. SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
View Lots 45 - 52
La TâcheSince 1933, entirely owned by the Domaine and recognised as the appellation of La Tâche in 1936, there is real complexity of terroir here as it also includes Les Gaudichots de La Tâche, a strip of vineyard that stretches from top to bottom of the slope. Inevitably, and perhaps slightly pointlessly, it is often ‘compared’ to Romanée Conti itself, far smaller in size but joining it at the pinnacle of Burgundy’s vinous heights. For me, the texture of La Tâche is often denser on the palate, coating the mouth with that tapestry of cherry fruit and perfect, structured tannins that demand patience before the whole explodes into all its highly sensual glory and truffley maturity. At this level, tasting is deeply emotional.
SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
View Lots 2 - 14
Romanée St. VivantThe Domaine owns just over half of the appellation, in one block, having purchased it from the Marey-Monge family in 1988 after previously managing it for the family since 1966. With its relatively deep soil, the vineyard was replanted over a number of years and one has seen even greater refinement in the wines as the decades have passed. They have concentration, great fruit, smooth, noble tannins and an intense, piercing quality that is very St. Vivant. Almost shadowing Romanée-Conti itself, its sheer class creeps up on you, underpinned by rich Vosne earth, never tamed but aristocratic to the core. For me, this is the DRC wine that has ‘improved’ most in my lifetime, reaching its undoubted heights in no uncertain fashion.
SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
View Lots 16 - 26
Krug is a byword for majesty of taste, structure and sheer impact, the embodiment of Champagne as wine. From the small oak barrels for the first fermentation, to the use of the three Champagne grape varieties, the amazingly complex blending of parcels and villages, to the ageing, Krug is the epitome of a unique craft. Grande Cuvée to Vintage, Clos du Mesnil to Clos d’Ambonnay, it is in an organoleptic world of its own, with its body, fruit, flowers and toasty ‘ampleur’ - and its trademark touch of orange zest that, for me, is inimitable Krug. Eric Lebel has been the genius behind it for decades and now hovers in the background while Julie Cavil takes over as Chef de Caves. This is a house that is here to stay and a Champagne that is with us for life.
SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW
Christophe Roumier has been at the helm here for nearly 30 years and has followed a route that has led to enormous purity and elegance in his wines, true bottles of grace and the essence of Chambolle. Preferring old vines, strict pruning to green harvesting, yields are always prudent and vinification ‘gentle’, with very judicious use of new wood – the aim is to interpret terroir and bring great fruit to liquid form. Bonnes Mares has real depth and the ability to age for a considerable time, while the tiny quantity of Les Amoureuses enchants with its aromas and the rarity of Musigny is exasperating!
– SERENA SUTCLIFFE, MW