Auction Manager Jeremy Lee takes us through some of the headline bottles and highlights from our September Fine & Rare Wine Auction.
Our September Fine & Rare Wines auction had a thrillingly inevitable highlight when we received into our offices an embarrassment of vinous riches from a trusted regular in the form of a case of six sequentially numbered bottles (from 16640 bottled that year) of 1999 La Tâche from the Domaine De La Romanée-Conti. A great vintage from, quite simply, the most prestigious winery on the planet – fittingly our best-ever result for a wine lot, with the hammer falling at a cool £30,000.
Other Burgundy highlights at the less stratospheric end of the bidding included Nuits-St-Georges Clos de la Maréchale Premier Cru 2005 from producer Jacques-Fréderic Mugnier, in a very structured, hefty vintage, still in its adolescence, hitting £220. A trio of organically-produced 2004 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru Réserve François Labet, bottled by Henri Darnat, attracted Chardonnay hedonists looking to hook into the richness that the 11 hectare Grand Cru is famed for at £370.
A bottle of Chateau Pétrus 2000 was our worthy top single bottle lot by some margin at £3200, and another Whisky.Auction top performer; our highest ever price for a bottle of Pétrus. It comfortably eclipsed previous appearances by fellow Wine Advocate 100-pointer Pétrus 2010 by several hundred pounds. A millennium bottle worthy of its ‘monumental’ status.
A trio of Léoville Barton 1990, at its pinnacle of mature perfection, inevitably seemed like a snip by comparison at £410, with a single bottle of a more recent classic, with at least 30 years left in the tank, the 2005 Léoville Barton topping out at £110. Mature First Growths also featured, in the form of one of the ‘wines of the vintage’, the Haut Brion 1995 fetching £400, pipping the gloriously sophisticated 1985 Château Margaux at £360.
A magnum bottle of 1999 Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill was our appropriately generously proportioned top Champagne lot, the hammer falling with a puff of smoke at £390, but seeming like a relative bargain compared to the trio of Krug 1998 single bottle lots, fetching from £340 to £360 per bottle for only half the volume, ably demonstrating the esteem of Champagne’s most aristocratic producer.
There was much good drinking and excellent value to be had for drinkers last night, rather than those wishing to squirrel away or invest. We were blessed to have fascinating ‘mini-verticals’ from several esteemed estates from around the world. This included five vintages of South Africa’s original ‘Bordeaux blend’ icon Meerlust Rubicon, seven from Piedmont icon Pio Cesare, and multiple vintages as well as a trio of grape varieties from Domaine Schlumberger from Alsace.
We can’t sign off without mentioning three fabulous Penfolds lots. Whilst it was not necessarily surprising that the 100 point 2012 Penfolds Grange stole the show with a hammer price of £320, this Penfolds 1983 Grange, recorked in 2016 and described as ‘a massively rich and expansive wine with years of cellaring potential’ in one of Penfold’s Rewards of Patience tastings, intrigued us mightily at a hammer price of £270, causing us to ponder the years before it had become the superstar it is today.
Most fun lot? No contest – Penfolds Limited Edition Venture Beyond Record Player with a hammer price of £330 came with a trio of Penfolds bottles and LPs from Daft Punk and David Bowie, with one bidder getting lucky and becoming a hero – for at least several nights.