S otheby’s Wine is delighted to present our first London sale of 2022: The Cellar of An Esteemed British Collector | Bordeaux, Rhone and Port Through The Ages. A brilliant Single Owner collection, it is a great privilege to bring such a comprehensive cellar of well cared for back-vintages to market, to kick off an extremely busy and very exciting Spring season for our London team.
Offering a wide-ranging journey into the classic tastes of an extremely discerning collector, there is a particularly impressive depth of Cru Classé Bordeaux on offer from the 1940s to 1990s, with extensive representation across First Growths to Fifth Growths in all the historic vintages, and an amazing selection of Yquem that includes the great 1967 and 1975 in tremendous quantities. This is evidently the collection of a wine lover with a true passion, spanning as it does the entire hierarchy of the wine world, and beyond Bordeaux we find wonderful offerings from the Rhone, including iconic vintages of Chave’s Hermitage and a superb array of Jaboulet’s Hermitage La Chapelle, before closing out the sale with an incredible assortment of Vintage Ports from the great vintages of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
The Cellar of An Esteemed British Collector | Bordeaux, Rhone and Port Through The Ages will open for online bidding on Tuesday 22 February, culminating in an online-streamed, live auction on Tuesday 8 March at 10am GMT.
This auction celebrates the life and tastes of an esteemed British wine lover, who devotedly assembled this brilliant collection across more than 5 decades. It truly represents a lifetime of dedicated and diligent work. In every corner of the cellar we can find a small piece of his personality; the whole, overarching view being that of a man who harboured an unbridled passion for wine, and particularly Bordeaux. This genuine passion is evident in his extensive appreciation of wines beyond just the region’s top five or six names, which are no doubt impressively represented here, to properties from every commune and tier of Bordeaux’s Classed Growths and beyond.
Provenance and Inspection
All of the wines offered here were stored in a single, purpose-built and digitally temperature-controlled cellar at the consignor’s home in the south of England. Everything was purchased from a select group of highly reputable merchants, the vast majority bought on initial release and meticulously stored in this cellar for their entire life, where they remained undisturbed until inspection and shipment to Sotheby’s temperature-controlled warehouse in October 2021. Several older bottles from the collection were tasted by our expert team, to provide assurance of the quality of the storage conditions over the past 60 years. The excellence of the bottles we tasted from the 1950s and 1960s, at every rank, speaks volumes about the impeccable storage and provenance of these wines, and the care that went into assembling and managing this outstanding cellar.
“Our father's cellar has been at the heart of our family since we were small boys in the late 1960s. The cellar grew over the years, accommodating his growing passion: first a single room, then a second, then a third and finally a fourth extension. The cellar was alive. Its wines have matured flawlessly over decades - indeed we have recently enjoyed several bottles of Claret from the 1940s and 1950s. What perhaps makes the cellar really stand out is the exceptional quality across the whole spectrum of wines: one expects mature First Growths to be impeccably stored; to find wines from humbler estates similarly stored over decades, and still showing so beautifully, is perhaps equally as special. We drank from the cellar every evening, our mother's passion for cooking the perfect match. Many of these wines have deeply personal significance for us, beyond their extraordinary quality. It began in the 1960s with Claret, Sauternes and Vintage Port at the core. Rhône makes an entry almost 20 years later. To sell these wines has wrought powerful emotions. This sale marks the end of a story that has been central to our lives, and so is certainly bittersweet. But to show the cellar to Sotheby's, and now to you, makes us incredibly proud of our parents, and we wish they could have known.”
“We are hugely grateful to our consignors, this esteemed collector’s family, for sharing with us his wines, giving us the opportunity to tell his story through the cellar and to play a part in his legacy. This auction is an embodiment of his philosophy that the best wines were made to be shared, and we are delighted to have a role in perpetuating this philosophy, sharing these beautifully cared-for wines with our global base of collectors. This strong sharing mentality is something that evidently runs in the family, who have been extraordinarily generous in opening and sharing bottles from the collection for us to appraise, allowing us to experience firsthand the quality of the provenance and the care that went into the meticulous storage of these wines.”
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. 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. 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. That magical transformation, that we see when great Bordeaux is left to sleep, undisturbed, for decades, is on show in all its glory throughout this quite sensational collection. It is a true delight to be able to present this treasure trove of pristine historic bottles. We find such incredible breadth and depth of perfectly stored wines on offer here, it is almost impossible to single out the highlights, and we strongly recommend collectors take the time to browse through the entirety of the collection to take advantage of all its jewels. With decades of Fifth Growth gems all the way up to First Growth icons on offer, from all of the most iconic vintages between the 1940s and the 21st century, there is no doubt that the wines offered here are set to capture the attention and excitement of the foremost collectors of Bordeaux in every corner of the globe.
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 this sensational estate’s wines defy the limits of aging to which most mortals must adhere. How lucky we are, then, to find such an incredible selection of perfectly stored bottles in this outstanding cellar, with cases and bottles from 1958 to 1990 giving us the chance to experience firsthand just how eternal and mysterious these stunning wines are.
The names of Paul Jaboulet and Jean-Louise Chave have attained a mythological status not just within the Rhône valley, but amongst the wider pantheon of the world’s great domaines. Both are legendary, and whilst the Jaboulet family founded their domaine nearly 200 years ago, the Chaves have been tending vines on the hill of Hermitage for more than 500 years. For wine lovers in search of the true pinnacle of the Rhône valley’s inimitable expressions of Syrah, it is difficult to look beyond the bottles offered from this incredible cellar. Chave’s Hermitage is represented here in the form of perfectly stored vintages from 1983 to the iconic 1990, and the truly legendary 1978 Hermitage La Chapelle leads the way for Jaboulet.
This is a collection of the Rhône’s greatest treasures, and plenty of wines beyond the amazing Chave and Jaboulet offerings are sure to set pulses racing. We find all three of Guigal’s stunning “La Las” from the 1989 vintage, sublime and very rarely-seen aged Cornas from Clape and Allemand, and for the more value-minded drinker there is an amazing run of Jaboulet’s Domaine de Thalabert Crozes Hermitage from 1978 to 1994, which proves that a new mortgage isn’t required to drink lovely aged Syrah from the Rhône, and provides further evidence for the fact that the 1970s through to the 1990s was truly a heyday period for this domaine. Finally, complete original wooden cases of Beaucastel’s sublime 1989 and 1990 Chateauneuf Rouge, alongside the 1990 Hommage à Jacques Perrin, round out this exciting portion of the sale.
The collector who consigned this incredible cellar had a laser-like focus when it came to purchasing his very favourite wines from the top estates of the Rhône and Bordeaux, but as we move beyond these two regions, further treasures reveal themselves. More limited in quantity, of particular note here should be the truly pristine original case of 1979 Salon, one of the finest examples of aged Salon to be found in the global market right now, as well as Bonneau du Martray’s splendid 2002 Corton Charlemagne and a handful of wonderful 2004 bottles from Meursault’s mythical Arnaud Ente.
Being as it is such a truly classic collection, our consignor for this remarkable sale evidently held Vintage Port in high regard, and we find an absolute smorgasbord on offer here. The steep terraces of the Douro Valley produce some of the most intense, complex and age-worthy wines of the world, and the examples offered here are amongst the very best. A frequently cited frustration amongst Port lovers is the fact that one must wait multiple decades before the wines approach anything resembling drinkability. Thankfully, in this case, our dedicated collector has meticulously done the work for you, and we find an incredible array of beautifully cared for Vintage Ports in this stunning cellar, with every major house and vintage represented from the 1960s through to the 1990s.
The vast majority of Sotheby's Wine auctions focus on Europe’s most established wine regions, where our expertise and experience has helped us find some of the most exciting collections ever seen for sale. But our passion extends far beyond the stalwarts of the fine wine market, and it is exciting to see wines and growers from other regions infiltrating the pack. Beyond this dedicated collector’s evident passion for the very best, classic Ports, in this section we also find a handful of gems from other regions, including some particularly special 1964 Tokaji Essencia, mixed cases of fabulously mature German Riesling, and some wonderful individual bottles including 1982 Penfolds Grange and a brace of century-old Madeiras.