$312,000 for the opulent flavours of Romanee-Conti 1990

At the weekend, Christie's held an Evening Sale of the world's finest wines. The auction achieved an extraordinary $2.24m for the 526 lots - and a significant part of that was down to just one vintage.

There are certain wines that even collectors with excellent wine cellars can only dream about, and one of these is Romanée-Conti 1990. The legendary vintage is very rarely seen at auction - only a few hundred cases of it were ever made.

It's certainly rated highly with the critics, with Allen Meadows enthusing about

"...a breathtaking panoply of Asian spices, exotic fruit aromas and a touch of earth followed by rich, lush, almost opulent flavors that melt in the mouth and coat the palate with a layer of velvet on the fantastically long finish."

So when 12 bottles of it were offered, as two lots of six, in New York they were always going to cause a bit of a stir. Also important was the provenance - there is no reason to doubt that the wine has been kept in less than perfect conditions since it was sold to join a world-class collection 10 years ago.

Offered with a guide price of $90,000-120,000 per lot, the first six bottles caused some intense bidding and pressed up to $156,000.

The two lots were 'wrapped' together as a parcel lot, meaning that the winning bidder for the first lot could re-unite the 12 if they paid the same price again. Incredibly, they did just that.

It was a strong sale all round for the best wine. Although naturally overshadowed by the top lot(s), three lots of a dozen bottles each of the delicious Château Lafite-Rothschild 1982 all outstripped their $26,000-35,000 estimates with two selling for $45,600 and one for $48,000.


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