iDealwine update: The Engel’s share

A pioneer of winemaking in Burgundy, Domaine René Engel’s scarcity means prices are rising at auction as competition heats up to nab rare bottles

RENÉ ENGEL was born and raised in the heart of Burgundy, in Vosne-Romanée, towards the end of 19th century. After studying viticulture in Beaune he joined the family vineyard. At the outbreak of World War I, he was called on to serve his country in the trenches but, unlike many of his peers, was fortunate enough to return home.

In 1934, he co-founded the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an exclusive brotherhood for Burgundy wine lovers. Over the years this order evolved and provided much-needed support during the challenging times that Burgundy, like many other winemaking regions, faced throughout the 20th century. Today it remains an effective proponent of the wines of this region, and continues to keep the tradition alive. In 1949, René’s son, Pierre, took over the family business but, after falling ill, was unable to give the vines the attention they needed.

Subsequently, the domaine fell into neglect but was granted a new lease of life when Pierre’s son, Philippe, inherited it in 1981 at the age of 26. Under his attentive care, and the valuable guidance of his grandfather, the proportion of wine sold to the négoce was gradually reduced so that by 1988 the entire crop was bottled under the domaine’s own name.

Nestled in the heart of the Côte-de- Nuits, Domaine René Engel benefits from a fantastic terroir, its vines producing the elegant Vosne-Romanée village (2.5 hectares), to prime plots of old vines on the Premier Cru Vosne-Romanée Les Brûlées (1ha) and the three famous grands crus: Echézeaux (0.5ha), Grands Echézeaux (0.5ha) as well as a single plot in the Clos de Vougeot (1.4ha) situated just below the eponymous château. With Philippe at the helm, yields were small (usually below 35hl/ha), extraction was light and oak used sparingly. The result was fruit-forward wines with elegance and finesse in their youth but also great ageing ability.

auction update – sponsored by iDealwine

Auction results 15/03/18 vs auction price estimates of selected cuvées of Domaine René Engel

Auction 15/03/18 Estimate Evolution
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 1990 €973 €552 76%
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2002 €742 €547 36%
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2001 €572 €371 54%
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2004 €450 €226 99%
Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru 2002 €803 €334 140%
Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru 2000 €632 €372 70%
Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru 2003 €584 €438 33%

Source: iDealwine


> iDealwine is an international finewine e-merchant with offices in Paris, Hong Kong and London. Specialising in online auctions and fixed-price sales, iDealwine was launched in France in 2000, and is now the online auction leader in Europe, supplying to 50 countries in Europe, Asia and the US.
> Wine is sourced from private European cellars and directly from the wineries, with a large range that includes rare bottles and vintages.
> iDealwine provides wine-market data and analysis, with more than 60,000 price estimates based on more than three million auction prices.
> Contact: Arthur de Lencquesaing –

Domaine René Engel thrived until Philippe’s sudden death in 2005. With no obvious heir, the domaine was acquired the following year by successful French businessman François Pinault, through his holding Artemis Group, and was rebranded Domaine d’Eugénie.

He already owned iconic Château Latour in Pauillac but this was to be his first acquisition in Burgundy. He has since bought the Northern Rhône monopoly Château Grillet, in 2011, a few vines of Montrachet (0.043ha) and Bâtard-Montrachet (0.085ha) in 2012, the Napa Araujo Estate in 2013 and, more recently, the 7.5ha monopoly of Clos de Tart. The latter was said to be snapped for up to €250 million (£220m) while, some say, Domaine René Engel was exchanged for around €25m.

Recent auctions have shown that wine enthusiasts are willing to pay over the odds for scarce wines. Bottles from defunct producers or broken-up or sold off domaines are going under the hammer for extraordinarily high prices, with bidders keen to clinch them before they become impossible to find on the market. Prime examples are Clair-Daü or Noëllat in Burgundy, and Gentaz-Dervieux, Henri Bonneau or Noël Verset in the Rhône.

Domaine René Engel is no exception to the rule, and its increasing scarcity on the market has triggered rising prices at auction. Historically, these wines have always fetched a high price but with wine enthusiasts now avidly chasing vintages from before the selling-off of this domaine to Artemis Group, prices have rocketed. This limited supply has caused wines from this domaine to reach a hammer price well over their price estimate.

Clos de Vougeot and Grands-Echézeaux, the two most sought-after crus from the domaine’s repertoire, have been hugely successful at auction. Already in July last year, when a large selection was put up for auction, the Grands-Echézeaux 1993 crossed the €1,000 threshold, €1,020 (+42%) to a Danish professional, while the 1996 vintage went for €844, and the 2004 went for €480 (+37%). The Clos-de-Vougeot 1993 reached €660 (+72%) and the 1991 €552 (+77%). The superb 1990 vintage of Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les
Brûlées went for €612 (+39%) and the 2004 for €288 (+28%).

In a recent auction, which closed on 15 March 2018, there was intense competition for these wines between private individuals and trade bidders from France, Italy, Estonia and South Korea. The two most expensive wines were a Clos de Vougeot 1990 and a Grands-Echézeaux 1999. Both reached €973, resulting in a 76% and 171% increase in their price estimate respectively from previous auction results. The average price rose across the board, with most vintages and crus from the domaine seeing a rise of between 35%
and 100% on their price estimate.

Domaine René Engel’s increasing scarcity factor, coupled with the Asian  and the more traditional markets’ ever intensifying love affair with Burgundy, suggests that prices should continue to rise at auction without too much risk.

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