£30k Petrus case stars at '2009's most exciting' wine sale

Sotheby's London sale of Finest and Rarest Wines on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 will bring to the market two magnificent collections, which together mark one of the most exciting moments in the 2009 London wine auction calendar.

The collections will form the core of the 840-lot sale which, with an estimate of £1.4-1.8m, ranks as the highest value wine auction to be staged by Sotheby's London this year.

Château Lafite 1961, 1 d.mag, per lot £4,000-6,000
Château Lafite 1961, 1 d.mag,
per lot £4,000-6,000

The sale will open with one of the most exciting wine collections to have come to auction in recent times. Predominately Bordeaux and rich in First Growths from historic vintages, this magnificent collection promises to be remarkable in both its depth and range.

The array of vintages on offer, almost all of which are presented in a range of bottle sizes, creates a unique opportunity to acquire and taste the same wines in different formats. The majority of the wines were purchased straight from the châteaux or direct from the producers and come to the market in pristine condition.

"This has to be one of the most exciting wine collections to be offered at a London auction in recent times; it is a collector's dream and a wonderful way to end what has been an exceptional year for Sotheby's international wine department," said Serena Sutcliffe, Worldwide Head of Sotheby's Wine Department.

"The levels and appearance of the wine in the collection are truly remarkable and all of the wines were either shipped direct to the seller from Bordeaux, the majority ex-Château, or directly from the producers.

"The seller has an excellent reputation, and has included other treasures, from magnums and bottles of Grand Cru Burgundy from Rousseau, Tuscany's great Sassicaia and from California, Caymus and Ridge. We look forward to bringing this superb collection to auction this December."


Château Margaux (55 lots spanning 1982 to 2002)

One of the undoubted star lots of the collection is a case of 12 bottles of Château Lafite 1934, which is described by Sutcliffe as "the decade's best vintage and an excellent example."

The case is estimated at £5,000-6,000 and it will be offered alongside a magnum and double magnum of Lafite 1961, which are estimated at £2,000-3,000 and £4,000-6,000 respectively.

While Château Lafite wines have always enjoyed great acclaim and a large following, their appearance at auction today is met by an even higher level of enthusiasm than ever before, as they are particularly sought after by wine lovers in Asia.

Further Lafite vintages on offer include from between 1975-1986 ("Giant wine and, at 23 years old, it has never shown so well"), 1985-1996 ("truly a knock-out. Again, at a 2009 dinner in Hong Kong, a glorious spicy nose, like the smell of Christmas pudding cooking!.... Big impact wine") 1997-2000 ("this will last a century if desired, so think two generations on"), 2001 and 2002.

Among the other great Bordeaux in the collection are Château Latour (with a run of vintages dating from 1983 to 2000), Château Margaux (55 lots spanning 1982 to 2002), Château Mouton Rothschild (29 lots spanning 1984 to 2000), Château Palmer, and many others, including some exceptional sweet white wine, such as Château d'Yquem 1975, 1990 and 2001.

Furthermore, the same collection will include two dozen magnums and a case of 12 bottles of Lafite's second wine, Carruades de Lafite, which now has established a status all of its own.

The vintages of 1996, 2000 and 2003 all feature. Stunning red Burgundy from Domaine Armand Rousseau will be another auction highlight, with a case of six bottles of Chambertin 2005, estimated at £2,600-3,400, and a case of six bottles of Chambertin, Clos de Beze 2005, with the same estimate.

Italian reds are represented by Sassicaia, The King of the Super Tuscans and, still to this day, a wine known for excellence and longevity. Twenty-five Sassicaia lots are presented in total and these span a run of vintages from 1978-1988 as well as 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1997.

The 1985 vintage is "maybe the greatest vintage of all at Sassicaia" and "opens like a peacock's tail"; a case of six bottles and a magnum of this magnificent vintage are on offer, estimated at £3,600-4,200 and £1,200-1,400 respectively.

The second single-owner collection of note will start the afternoon session of the sale and this comprises top-quality Bordeaux in parcel quantities.

All of the wines in this collection were either purchased directly from the Châteaux or from reputable merchants. Classic vintages from 1982 to 2005 are offered for sale and among the 31 parcels, standout wines include Château Latour 1982 ("Superb, rich wine… an incredible treat", each case estimated at £10,000-15,000), Château Lafite 1996, each case estimated at £6,500-7,500, and Château Mouton Rothschild 1986, estimated at £4,600-5,500 per case.

A small parcel of Château Lafite 2000 leads the collection in terms of value and the three cases have a combined estimate of £33,000-45,000.

Six bottles of Chambertin,
Clos de Beze 2005

Château Pétrus and other prime Pomerol headline a third private collection, that from the underground cellar of a long-standing continental collector.

The seller's late father had an agreement to buy two cases of Pétrus directly from the Château every year and this agreement went back decades - he only stopped buying in 2001.

Among the superb Pétrus vintages on offer are 1982 ("Superb, full, rich, ultra-dimensional taste") and 1959 ("So elegant. Such balance and harmony. Sheer breed on the texture - only great growths have this").

The 1982 vintage is presented in cases of half bottles and bottles, each estimated to fetch £24,000-30,000, while a bottle of the 1959 vintage has an estimate of £1,000-1,500.

"Pétrus has a taste like no other Bordeaux and the very name creates an excitement unlike any other wine," said Ms Sutcliffe.

Other Pomerol in this collection includes Châteaux Trotanoy, Petit Village, Le Bon Pasteur, Certan Giraud and de Sales - all purchased directly from the châteaux.

Furthermore, the sale features stunning St Emilion, including cases of Château Cheval Blanc 2000 estimated at £5,500-6,500, and parcels of the irrepressible Carruades de Lafite spanning 1999-2003, which were bought en primeur.

Champagne is also well represented by two magnums of Krug Vintage 1976, both estimated at £600-900, and several cases of Krug Vintage 1982, each estimated at £2,400-3,200The 1982 vintage "dances on the palate" while that from 1976 has a "sweet finish".

The sales takes place in London on Wednesday, December 9.


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