Auction Manager Jeremy Lee takes a look through some of the highlights from our February Fine & Rare Wine Auction.
A bottle of 2011 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts from Domaine Leroy was the deserving top lot of our February wine auction, with a flurry of bids doubling the final hammer price to an appropriately refined £3,200 in the last few hours of our sale. Every bit as sought-after as Domaine de la Romanee Conti, the wines of Domaine Leroy set the pulses racing even amongst Burgundy specialists like ‘Burghound’ author Allen Meadows, for whom it simply offered ‘another level of class and refinement’ over the domaine’s other Vosne Premier Cru (Les Brulees), and, he might have added, virtually every other wine in the Burgundy region that vintage.
Champagne provided eight out of ten of the top lots last night, six of which were Krug’s spectacular 1990, all in excellent condition, with each attaining a hammer price of £600. The last of the classic 1988, 1989, 1990 trio of back-to-back Champagne vintages, it provides Burgundian levels of complexity allied to a wonderful toastiness from its decade-plus on lees. Great now and for the foreseeable future. This will only become more desirable as corks get popped by those lucky enough to indulge.
Other Champagne highlights included a half-dozen lot of nightclub favourite Armand de Brignac Gold, which fetched a glittering £1000 (a relative snip, though, versus prices charged in hospitality after dark). On a similar theme, a magnum of 2006 Dom Perignon Rose Champagne from the Luminous Collection fetched an impressive £625. Far more limited in terms of production than the iconic ‘standard’ DP Brut, this has the added advantage of coming with an illuminated label presentation, helping one view one’s fellow drinkers in low-light conditions.
Our fortified & dessert wine category highlight was always destined to be the 2005 Chateau D’Yquem, with a hammer price of £290, promising the best part of another half-century of age-ability and ‘layers beyond your wildest dreams’ according to Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW. Relative bargains were to be had from other Sauternes Chateaux of note from the excellent 1997 vintage (so much better for the sweeties than for the reds), with pairs of lots including 1997 Chateau Suduiraut for £45 and 1997 Chateau Guiraud for £30.
On the red Bordeaux front, 100 pointer 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, with a similar plateau of maturity to the Yquem (and one of a trio of Chateau Lafite vintages in our February sale) headed up the pack, with a hammer price of £600, narrowly edging 1955 Chateau Latour into second place at £575. At the opposite end of the maturity spectrum and in its 68th year of life, Latour’s reputation as ‘longest-lived Cabernet on earth’ mean it would be unwise wine fan who bet against this still being a spectacular bottle.
The other side of the Rothschild clan was also well represented, with a full-case lot of twelve bottles of 2003 Chateau d’Armailhac, a ‘fifth growth’ in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification fetching £360, only £10 more than a single bottle of grander ‘first growth’ cousin 1999 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which hit £350. The last minute Bordeaux bidding, however, was focussed on a magnum (don’t we love them?) from the other side of the river, the excellent millennium vintage 2000 Chateau Figeac, which achieved a hammer of £360.
The evening, though, belonged to Burgundy, with Domaine Leroy in exceptionally fine company: Domaine Humbert’s 2017 Gevrey Chambertin Petite Chapelle (from a four hectare vineyard located directly beneath the Chapelle-Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Crus) performed well, with a hammer of £410 for a set of six bottles. Meanwhile Guy Amiot’s 2006 Le Montrachet Grand Cru from the most celebrated white wine vineyard in the world wowed all comers, fetching £550; last word, though, should perhaps go to the legendary Monopole Grand Cru vineyard 1999 Clos de Tart from Famille Mommessin, from a superlative vintage, which hit £400.