There was plenty of competitive bidding in our January Fine & Rare Wine Auction. Auction manager Jeremy Lee shares his highlights.
2011 Chateau Petrus was the worthy top lot in our January wine auction, hitting a cool £2000 for a vintage approaching its plateau of drinkability now (and for the foreseeable future). It headed up an impressive top ten that was dominated by France, neatly managing to represent an impressive swathe of the country’s most beloved styles. Other worthy Claret to mention include a stunning 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild with an ‘into neck’ fill level which hit £1300, and a 1985 Chateau Lafleur, which hit £600, one of only around 18,000 bottles produced that year, and (according to Robert M.Parker Jnr.) possibly the slowest-to-mature wine of the vintage.
Bollinger makes regular appearances in our auction: a much-loved house for fizz fans in the UK and internationally who enjoy a more complex, vinous style with a subtle toasty oak influence. A pair of 1995 Grande Année lots each hit £140 as appreciation for what was for many years an undervalued bottle continues to grow. But it was the rarely-seen 1992 Bollinger Vielles Vignes Francaises, harvested from a miniscule 0.5 hectare pre-phylloxera plot of vines, that set our pulses racing. It topped out at a respectable £700, although stacked up against wines from the likes of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti we have sold previously, that seemed like a comparative snip (Pinot Noir fans, in all its multiplicity of styles, discuss!).
Continuing on the Champagne theme: our haul of Dom Pérignon lots outnumbered the Roederer Cristals this month, with 12 vintages of the former (with a span of vintages from 1964 to 2013) and six of the latter. An interesting duo of lots to compare and contrast were lots 177791, a ‘P2’ (‘P for Plénitude’) from the millennium vintage with 16 years of lees ageing selling for £300, literally double the price of the ‘standard’ bottling, lot 177805, from the same year, which is aged for the conventional period on lees for a DP, closer to 7 years.
It came as no surprise to see Domaine Leflaives’ 2008 Bienvenue Batard-Montrachet from the second smallest Grand Cru in Burgundy, with an area of around 3.5 hectares, heading up our Burgundy category and hitting £650. This bottle was in near pristine shape, and the Domaine’s second-to-none portfolio of vineyards and superlative winemaking make this close to the top of most wine fan’s Chardonnay wish-lists. Equally prestigious in red wine terms is Domaine Armand Rousseau, with its magnificent labels with their ‘illuminated’ script. 2014 Clos de la Roche from a 1.48 hectare holding hitting £470 for ‘a big but seamlessly well-balanced effort’ according to ‘Burghound’ Allen Meadows.
2012 Harlan Estate, a Parker 99+ pointer, made a welcome appearance at our auction, hitting £650 (we last saw the same vintage as part of a pair in 2020 when they hit £1050 as a dynamic duo), though the auction manager for one is always wowed by Paul Draper’s magnificent Ridge Monte Bello if iconic California Cabernet blends are your thing, which hit £430 for a set of three.
Other deserving mentions go to 1977 Bolgheri Sassicaia, which hit £500 despite its damaged label (its reputation, maturity and good fill-level attracting a goodly number of bidders), and of course then there’s the Port! Always the end of the auction to go to for incredible value and quality. Here we had Dow’s in positions one and two for the category, with a future-classic half-dozen in the shape of the 2011 hitting £360, representing ‘Dow at its best’ according to Neal Martin, cheek by jowl to an established classic, the 1963 which hit £120, garnering an impressive 19.5/20 from Jancis Robinson MW, who noted that ‘The Sym(ington)s reckons this would be one of the top four or five vintage ports of the 20th century by anyone’s reckoning and certainly it demonstrated to me exactly what I love about really mature, top quality vintage port’.