Yves Saint Laurent wine to be auctioned

A fantastic array of rare Champagne and claret belonging to Yves Saint Laurent’s partner, Pierre Bergé, is to be auctioned in Paris next week.

jonkoping champagne

A bottle of Heidsieck Champagne from the wreck of the ‘Jönköping‘ is among the collection

Around 3,000 bottles of wine from Bergé’s will be auctioned by Maison Drouot on 10 March, the sale features an impressive array of rare and fine wines and an especially extensive consignment of rare old Champagnes and Bordeaux.

A bottle of 1907 Heidsieck Monopole ‘Goût Américain’, valued at €5,000-€6,000, is of particular interest and expected to be a highlight of the sale as it was part of a cargo sunk off the Finnish coast during the First World War.

Also included in the treasure trove are two bottles of 1959 Bollinger RD (€1,400-€1,600) and a single bottle of 1961 RD (€250-€300), as well as 1983 Moët et Chandon, a magnum of 1981 Cristal, two magnums of 1975 Dom Pérignon, six bottles of 1964 Dom Pérignon, a magnum of 1955 Mumm Cordon Rouge and another of 1962, six magnums of 1975 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque and five bottles of 1961 Comtes de Champagne.

There is of course a substantial array of Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in particular, with vintages dating back to 1961 (two bottles).

Other notable and rare lots include a jeroboam of 1921 Château Climens (€3,000-€4,000), two bottles of 1937 Yquem, six bottles of 1937 Ausone (€2,000-€2,400) and another eight of 1959 Ausone (€3,200-€4,000).

A bottle of 1929 Cheval Blanc (€800-€900), another of the 1953, four bottles of the 1952 and five of the 1964 vintage will also be offered.

Five bottles of 1928 Cos d’Estournel, six bottles of 1934 and four bottles of 1966 Ducru Beaucaillou, as well as three bottles of 1945 Haut-Brion and a bottle of 1895 Lafite (€5,000-€8,000) are just a small part of the claret consignment.

The full brochure can be viewed here.

Bergé was the boyfriend and business partner of Yves Saint Laurent. A co-founder of the eponymous couture house in 1961, he was also managing director of the house until it closed in 2002.

‘The Champagne Wreck’


The Swedish freighter Jönköping

The bottle of Heidsieck Monopole that is to go on sale from Bergé’s collection was just one of a shipment of 4,000 bottles of the Champagne, 67 barrels of Cognac and 17 other barrels of wine (Burgundy apparently) being delivered to the Russian army in 1916 aboard the Swedish vessel Jönköping.

Leaving Sweden on 26 October she was stopped in Finnish waters (then part of the Russian Empire) by the German submarine U-22 on 2 November as she approached her destination, the port of Rauma. As she was also carrying ‘war materials’ for railway construction, her crew were disembarked and the ship sunk by either an explosive charge or the boat’s deck gun (she was not torpedoed). Some bottles were hastily removed from the ship before she was sunk.

The wreck of the Jönköping was discovered in 1997 by a Swedish team and some of her vinous cargo brought to the surface. The Champagne was found to be in excellent condition and in the end 2,000 bottles were recovered*. Twenty-four of the bottles were auctioned by Christie’s in October 1998 for £2,400 each, making the entire salvaged cargo worth around US$8 million at the time.

The story bears many similarities to the discovery of another shipwreck discovered in Finnish waters off the Åland Islands in 2010.

Found in waters not far from the Jönköping and likewise bound for Russia with a cargo of Champagne that contained several drinkable bottles of Veuve Clicquot and Heidsieck, some of which were sold at auction, that shipwreck nonetheless dated to the 19th century and the two should not be confused.


*There was a minor hiccup when the Swedish team returned to the site in the spring of 1998 with permission to conduct further exploration and even raise the ship only to find a Finnish team had arrived and were trying to do the same thing. A Finnish court ruled in favour of the Swedes in the end but the Finnish team leader had already salvaged a few bottles of Champagne. He later sold them for US$10,000 apiece.

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