S otheby’s Wine London is delighted to present our final sale before the Summer break with Vine | Sassicaia Direct from Tenuta San Guido | The Arnold Foundation for Rugby School | Finest & Rarest Wines. This superb sale is divided into three parts, each presenting a refreshing and exciting mix of the world’s finest and rarest wines, as well as a selection of world-beating wine experiences.
We begin with a superb and select direct offering from the cellars of Tenuta San Guido, home of Sassicaia, in celebration of the wine’s 50th anniversary on the market this year. Next up is Rugby School’s consignment to benefit The Arnold Foundation, donated for sale by their generous benefactors in order to raise funds in support of their Fast Forward 50 campaign, which will raise another £25 million to ensure that the school can continue to offer fully-funded boarding places for 40 talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds every year. Following this, the auction continues with our various-owner Finest & Rarest Wines sale, which encompasses lots 69 through 762 and represents a handful of leading British and European private collections. With pristine, perfectly mature stocks of all the world’s greatest wines, from the cellars of a group of true connoisseurs, there is something to please every palate in this marathon auction.
This extensive and exciting auction begins with a stellar selection of 6 lots direct from the cellars of Tenuta San Guido, home to the Incisa della Rocchetta family and of the original “Super Tuscan”, Sassicaia. We are privileged to have been able to work with the Incisa della Rocchetta family, and the whole team at the Estate, to arrange this special celebration of the 50th anniversary of Sassicaia’s first ever release to the market.
- The Foundations
- The Birth of an Icon
- The Legacy
The FoundationsThe area around Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast, has belonged to the Counts della Gherardesca for more than 1,200 years. However, the modern-day story of the Tenuta San Guido estate begins in 1930, with the marriage of Clarice della Gherardesca to Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. From an old winemaking family of Piedmontese origin, Mario Incisa developed a fascination with creating an Italian “thoroughbred” wine, modelled on the great wines of Bordeaux, whilst studying in Pisa in the 1920s.
The Birth of an IconDuring this time as a student, he was often a guest of the Salviati Dukes in Migliarino, whose estate contained plantings of a number of French grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon. It was his experience of these wines that was formative in driving the incredible legacy he went on to leave at Tenuta San Guido. In the 1940s, having settled with his wife Clarice at her family’s Tenuta San Guido estate on the Tyrrhenian coast, he began his experiment by planting cuttings of French grapes that he had received from the Dukes Salviati, and concluded that Cabernet had the bouquet he was looking for. This represented a fundamental change from the traditional Sangiovese plantings in the surrounding region, and for many years his wines were shunned by those accustomed to the region’s traditional lighter, local wines.
The LegacyFrom 1948 to 1967, Sassicaia therefore remained a private affair, only to be consumed by the family. The change in character of the wine, and considerable improvement as it aged in their cellar, resulted in further encouragement from friends and relatives, and Mario Incisa finally released the 1968 vintage of Sassicaia to the market for the very first time in 1971. The release of the 2018 vintage of Sassicaia earlier this year, itself a masterpiece, therefore represents the 50th anniversary of this now legendary wine’s presence on the market. Sassicaia’s success over the subsequent half-century is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Mario Incisa, and the successive generations of his family who have carried on this great legacy.
The 6 large-formats offered here, the historic 1985 in magnum and 1988 in double-magnum, the superb 1997 in imperial and 1999 in magnum, as well as the modern greats of 2013 and 2018 in imperial and double-magnum respectively, have been consigned especially by Tenuta San Guido to celebrate this wonderful anniversary for the family and Sassicaia. The combination of these mythical vintages, in rare large-formats, with perfect ex-domaine provenance, is sure to generate worldwide interest in these lots. Furthermore, the 3-litre bottle of the superb 2018 vintage comes with a Tour, Tasting & Lunch for up to 4 people at Tenuta San Guido; a truly unique opportunity, the likes of which we will not offer again for a long time. Don’t miss this!
The second segment of this superb sale, lots 7 through 68, is dedicated to raising funds in support of Rugby School’s Arnold Foundation, which celebrates its 18th birthday this year. Now recognised as one of the leading school bursary programmes in the country, the Arnold Foundation was revolutionary at the time of its establishment. Thanks to the tireless work of the Foundation’s community, and the generosity of its donors, more than 145 talented young pupils have so far benefitted from fully funded boarded places at the School. As the Foundation marks this milestone, the School aims to build on its success through the Fast Forward 50 campaign, which will raise another £25 million to ensure that the school can continue to offer this fabulous opportunity for 40 students every year.
The Foundation’s generous supporters have consigned a true smorgasbord of beautiful wines and outstanding experiences to raise funds for this superb programme, and there is something for everyone within these lots. Amongst the wines we find the classics that we would expect: perfectly stored mature First Growths; outstanding Super Seconds; Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s painfully rare Chevalier Montrachet; and a terrific selection of Champagne’s greatest Prestige Cuvees. Beyond these classics, though, we also see some esoteric gems; quite literally centuries-old Madeira and Cognac rubs shoulders with splendid vintage Ports, next to mature Penfold’s Grange and some Italian superstars.
Not only does The Arnold Foundation’s segment offer some outstanding wines, but also a selection of superb lifestyle lots that will offer the lucky winning bidders some of the greatest wine experiences to be found; a very exciting prospect to look forward to, as the world slowly begins to return to something resembling normality. These range from tours of Hungary’s Royal Tokaji, Portugal’s Symington Family Estates and Pomerol’s Chateau Seraphine (described by Neal Martin and Jane Anson as one of Pomerol’s rising stars), to a private dinner with wine legend Hugh Johnson OBE, who surely has more great wine anecdotes to share than we have bottles in our cellar, an exclusive VIP tour and tasting hosted by Saskia de Rothschild at her family’s estate, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, and an amazing opportunity to dine with Lizzy Rudd in the private Director’s Dining Room at Berry Bros. & Rudd , over a selection of stunning wines chosen from this great merchant’s Family Reserves.
This charitable section of our marathon July auction offers you an opportunity to contribute to a hugely successful and important programme, whilst securing yourself not just some wonderful wines but also truly first-class experiences. These 61 superb lots set an excellent platform for what is to come.
Following on from The Arnold Foundation’s consignment, we are treated to a series of stunning, classic collections, whose roster reads like a who’s who of the wine world’s truly great names. In this Aladdin’s Cave of a catalogue, sourced from some of Europe and the UK’s deepest and most notable private cellars, we find: Bordeaux’s greatest names from both the Left and Right banks of the Gironde estuary; an outstanding showing of blue-chip White Burgundy (think Coche-Dury, Leflaive, Raveneau and more); pristine Pinot from the likes of Domaines Leroy, Roumier, Comte de Vogue and DRC; and mature stocks from the most historic estates of Champagne and Italy. The full roll call of wine royalty is present!
The collections offered here are truly straight out of the top drawer, assembled painstakingly over the course of almost three decades. The vast majority of the wines on show were purchased on release from the estates and their agents, and have been meticulously stored throughout their life by the current owners, in climate-controlled facilities. Read on for further details of the glorious trophies that make up each of these marvelous cellars.
Looking at the performance of this category over the past two years, there is absolutely no doubt that white Burgundy is 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, in particular an outstanding vertical of Leflaive’s Chevalier Montrachet including some amazing double-magnums. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, we also see incredible offerings from further north, with an impressively broad selection from the King of Chablis, Francois Raveneau. Particularly notable here is the 12-bottle case of 2007 Les Clos, a wine that is quite frankly as good as Chardonnay gets!
Winemaking occupies a space right on the liminal boundary between Art and Science, and never is that more clear than in the Pinot Noirs 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. Part of the romantic allure of Pinot Noir is its capricious nature, and Burgundy’s winemakers all the way down the Côte d’Or are at the mercy of this grape variety’s temperament, the elements and, of course, their terroir. Harnessing the potential of all these variables is no small feat, and those who are able to achieve this year in, year out, are rightly revered as Burgundian royalty. When great Burgundy is on song, there is nothing quite like it for its exquisite purity and paradoxical power. These are truly the world’s most harmonious wines.
Viewed by many as the grandee of the fine wine world, 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 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, certainly in respect of their longevity. 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.
It is a bittersweet feeling to compose this section of the catalogue, a tribute to a true visionary and his great wines, whose untimely passing earlier this year was mourned by the entire wine community. Laurent Vaille was one of the world’s most gifted winemakers, and, equally as famously, one of its genuine mavericks. Professionally qualified as a physiotherapist, he quit his career in the 1980s in order to pursue his winemaking dream, initially training with the likes of Coche-Dury and Chave. After learning his craft from the very best, he returned to his family home near Aniane in the Languedoc and planted predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah vines on what he (and neighbour Aime Guibert of Mas de Daumas fame) recognised was the superb terroir of Le Tourtou. Contributing to the outstanding quality of his wines was the fact that his cuttings for Syrah vines were sourced from none other than Gerard Chave, with his Cabernet cuttings coming from Eloi Durrbach of Domaine Trevallon. Releasing his first vintage in 1992, this esoteric wine, made in tiny quantities from only 12-hectares of vines, quickly rose to stardom. Few wineries can lay claim to having attained genuine “cult” status; there is no doubt at all that this is one of them, with the queue of savvy collectors competing to get hold of these wines growing ever longer in recent years. We are therefore delighted to be able to offer a significant volume of two of Laurent’s revered modern vintages, 2014 and 2015.
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 truly iconic Soldera, Giacosa and Gaja, through all the major Super Tuscans, in particular some stunning large-formats of back-vintages of the Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista collection, to California’s outstanding Ridge Monte Bello and the wonderful 1966 Fonseca, this selection offers the whole nine yards.