'Very rich and complete' - Romanee Conti 1971 could bring £75,000 at Christie's

Today, June 10, Christie's is holding a sale of Finest and Rarest Wines. The auction house notes that an exceptional collection of rare Burgundy provides many of the best lots in the sale.

Amongst the 787 lots, there are a number of wines to excite any wine lover, collector or investor. For a start, there are two twelve bottle lots of Château Pétrus 1982 on offer, each expected to sell for £35,000-45,000.

The two most intriguing lots, however, are Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 and Romanée-Conti  1971.

La Chapelle 1961 is treated in some quarters with almost religious reverence. One of its greatest fans is wine critic Robert Parker who did the unthinkable and awarded it the full three digits on his 100-point scale, commenting:

"This is unquestionably one of the greatest wines made in the twentieth century. [...] The opaque purple/garnet colour is accompanied by spectacular aromatics representing the essence of old vine Syrah (smoked meat, pepper, hoisin sauce, and soy).

"As the wine sits in the glass, notions of pepper, new saddle leather, grilled meat, and awesome levels of blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant liqueur-like notes emerge. Extremely unctuous, with compelling concentration and purity, this full-bodied, seamless, mouthfilling 1961 is truly immortal.

"It still possesses a freshness and vigour that defy its nearly forty years of age. It should continue to drink well for two more decades. Prodigious stuff!"

The £45,000-60,000 guide price for the 12 bottle lot seems quite reasonable given this reputation, despite one slightly depressed cork and slightly varied wine-levels.

The top lot, however, is expected to be a six magnum lot of Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 1971. The exceptionally rare vintage was not considered a standout wine compared to the previous two years, but has developed better.

Respected critic Michael Broadbent MW commented on this in the Pocket Vintage Wine Companion:

"...though it has had the reputation of being somewhat hard, unyielding and 'untypical' it is these very factors which have so effectively developed the best over the past 35 years." Elsewhere, he described the tasting,

"Medium-deep, warm, soft, open; more restrained than the '78 but very good, with a true classic Pinot character opening fragrantly; very sweet, very rich and complete - all the components fully represented and in place, extract masking tannin. Outstanding."

The lot is expected to bring £50,000-70,000 in London later today.


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