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Finest and rarest auction lots

Bonhams, Acker Merrall & Condit and Sotheby’s are all holding fine wine sales over the next fortnight, Bonhams and Sotheby’s in London, Acker in Hong Kong.

All three auctions are filled with the usual wine suspects but there are treasures to be had from elsewhere too, as well as wonderful older vintages from Burgundy and Bordeaux.

So here is a small pick of some of the lots from the upcoming sales that justify their “fine and rare” tag.

Three bottles 1878 Denis Mounié Grande Champagne Cognac – Bonhams, London, 12 September

Three bottles of 1878 Cognac, marked “reserved for Jackson’s of Piccadilly”, are up for sale through Bonhams next week.

Although from the same collection, each is being sold separately. Lot 685 (middle bottle) is up with a £700 – £800 estimate, lot 686 (right bottle) for £600- £700 and lot 687 for between £500 to £600.

Bonhams has a strong history with spirit sales and other Cognacs in the sale date from 1906, 1908, 1914 and 1961.

One bottle 1795 Terrantez – Bonhams

If you’re going to find drinkable wine from the 18th century then Madeira will probably be it.

Nonetheless, this is another astonishingly rare bottle and is on offer for £1,500 to £2,000.

The fortified sections of auctions rarely get mentioned much as the prices are almost criminally low – many wonderful old vintages can be picked up for a few hundred pounds.

The Bonhams sale has a very strong fortified section with Port and Madeira much in evidence, particularly older vintages.

Other highlights include an 1875 Bastardo and Ports from the 1950s to 1990s from the major lodges.

One dozen & 11 half bottles 1967 Yquem – Bonhams

Sweet wine is another cruelly overlooked treat – though Yquem has a good track record at auction.

This practically mint lot of 1967 Yquem is going for £8,000 – £11,000 and is part of a sterling line-up of pudding wines.

Also look out for six bottles of 1942 Yquem (£2,500 – £3,000), a collection of Hermann Weber Beerenauslese from 1967 and 1971 (£300 – £350) and another with 4-6 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu from the 1970s to 1990s for £380 – £450 (badly damp-affected labels).

12 bottles 1992 Screaming Eagle – Acker Merrall & Condit Hong Kong, 13-14 September

Acker is beginning its autumn season in Hong Kong with the usual impressive line up of top Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Also up for grabs is the first full case of Screaming Eagle’s debut vintage that the house has offered since 2008.

Rarely offered at auction, the bottles are said to be in “beautiful condition” (see picture, above, to judge for yourself) and it is a sterling opportunity to add one of Napa’s greatest cult wines to one’s cellar.

Asking price is HK$400,000 – HK$560,000 (US$50,000 – US$70,000).

9 bottles 1971 Échézeaux bottled by Henri Jayer for Alexis Lichine – Acker Merrall & Condit

Jayer’s Richebourg and Cros Parantoux are now some of the most sought after and expensive Burgundian wines – or indeed any wines – in the world.

This particular lot is very special. Lichine was a Russian/American wine writer and entrepreneur throughout the 50s, 60s and 1970s.

He helped pioneer the promotion of varietal labelling (in the New World) and was also the owner of Château Prieuré-Lichine and Château Lascombes.

He was export manager for Haut-Brion and also managed to squeeze in tasting sessions with Jayer and his brother Lucien Jayer when visiting his properties in Burgundy (Latricieres in Chambertin and Bonnes Mares in Chambolle-Musigny).

He bought a barrel of Jayer’s Échézeaux in 1971 and Jayer bottled and labelled it himself.

The wines have been stored “impeccably”. If there’s one thing that collectors want aside from provenance it’s a story and this lot definitely has it – just be prepared to stump up HK$160,000 – HK$240,000 (US$20,000 – US$30,000) for the privilege.

12 bottles 1963 Fonseca – Sotheby’s, London, 18 September

Note: this is not a photograph of an actual bottle from the lot as none was available. Catalogue notes u. 3bn, no labels, 6 corks slightly raised

Another classic fortified to be had at Sotheby’s sale and ask yourself, “would it be possible to buy a case of 1960s Bordeaux or Burgundy for just £1,300 – £1,600? And how likely would it be to still be drinkable?”

Well, ask away and then laugh at all those chasing the dried meat and leather charms of non-fortified wines of a similar age and delight instead in the “deep impact” of plums that these wines still offer.

12 bottles 1961 Haut-Brion – Sotheby’s

Just by way of complete contradiction, if one is after old Bordeaux then this classic vintage is one to chase.

Part of a collection that also includes three bottles of ‘61 Margaux, a case of ‘61 Gruaud Larose and two bottles of ’62 Mouton, the Haut-Brion is, according to Serena Sutcliffe MW, “simply sumptuous”.

All the wines have been stored in Octavian’s cellar since purchase and aside from the case there is also a magnum, and two incomplete cases of eight and nine bottles.

The full case is valued at £16,000 – £20,000.

Six bottles 1990 Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Ainé – Sotheby’s

Away from the Côte d’Or and Médoc, the Rhône has been quietly growing in stature in recent years.

Liv-ex recently noted that it was the French region to have attracted the most monthly trade so far in 2013.

Jaboulet’s La Chapelle has starred in a few auctions in recent years but remains relatively affordable – but for how long? Indeed, a consignment direct from the cellars spanning 1948-2010 is up for sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong this weekend (7 September) – with a half case of the 1961 valued at HK$280,000 – HK$380,000 (US$35,000 – US$50,000).

The La Las are apparently the Rhône leaders but it can’t be long before someone latches on to the excellent quality and value of more of the region’s wines.

At 21 years old this is also said to be drinking beautifully and still with some life to it – £1,500 – £2,000.

Another half case of the 1989 is up for £600 – £750 (labels are slightly bin soiled).


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