Corks pop for 'lush, rich and velvety' Lafite 1982 wine at Christie's

Christie's held another fine and rare wine sale on December 10. Around 550 lots of great vintages went under the hammer with a good range on offer, everything from Lafleur and Pétrus to Dom Perignon.

In total the sale made $2.3m with the top three lots making a significant contribution, all three of which beat their listings.

First, a set of 12 bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1982 estimated at $35,000-45,000. Lafite is renowned for its finesse and subtlety and is often considered as being a more accessible young wine than the Château Latour or Mouton Rothschild. As Stephen Brook notes in his new book, The Complete Bordeaux: "For elegance choose Lafite."

At the moment, Lafite is also attracting particular interest in China - no doubt partly due to the meaning of the name which sounds much like 'on the way up' in Chinese.

This particular vintage was described by Christie's expert Charles Curtis at the Dinner at Christie's event as: "Eventually a triumph. On decanting and for two and a half hours later, the wine was big and smoky, with ripe fruit, a rather burnt nose, and firm, grippy tannins.

"With time a softer, riper plum and fig fruit character arose and the smoky, burnt aromas took a backseat, along with cedary lead pencil notes. On the palate in time the tannins softened as well, providing a lush, rich, velvety drink just in time for the steak."

The set of 12, in their original wooden case with lightly corroded capsules, eventually sold for $66,000 - nearly double its lower estimate. Further evidence of its quality as an investment.

The two top lots, however, both hailed from Romanée-Conti. The overall best seller was a set of six bottles of Côte de Nuits 1978 with levels of Levels: 4 2.5cm or better, one 3cm and one 3.5cm. It squeaked past its $55,000-$75,000 listing to sell for $78,000.

However, the most eye-catching lot of the auction was probably the methuselah of Côte de Nuits, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1971. As every collector will now, a Methuselah holds six litres, or eight standard bottles. Again, the lot squeaked past its $60,000-$70,000 listing to bring $72,000.

Few can have had the experience of drinking the 1971 from such a bottle, but Curtis has tried it from a magnum. "The 1971 Romanée-Conti drunk out of magnum is a peak experience, with a great density of dark plum fruit on the nose and overtones of truffle, game and leather.

"On the palate the wine is substantial and tannic without being heavy in any way. It shows a marvelous silky quality to the tannins and very good length."


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