With the spring auction season getting into high gear, Christie's and Sotheby's have announced a series of blockbuster sales rife with wines of superb quality. Historically, ex-château offerings and pristine private collections send paddles flying as collectors willingly pay a premium for impeccable provenance.
On May 22, in London, Christie's is auctioning the first of three major ex-château offerings of Château Latour, which the house describes as "the finest single consignment of estate-sourced Latour ever to appear at auction." (Christie's owner, François Pinault, is also the owner of Latour.) The follow-up sales will take place in Los Angeles on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and in New York on Nov. 20 and 21.
The London sale features 190 lots of Latour including such hard-to-come-by vintages as 1863, 1865, 1899, 1900, 1929 and 1945, along with classic postwar releases. The last time a bottle of Latour 1863 was auctioned in April 2000, it fetched $9,200, triple the high estimate. At that sale, held at Zachys-Christie's in New York, most of the 117 lots soared above estimate because they had never before been moved from the property's exemplary underground cellars.
In a written statement, Frédéric Engerer, president of Latour said, "We have been considering a major international opening of our cellar 'library' to Latour lovers around the world for some time. Due to the offering's depth and breadth, the sale will pay tribute to the generations of winemakers and vineyard managers who have ensured ... that Latour remains at the forefront of fine wine production."
On May 21, a private cellar featuring exceptional wines from the Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundy goes on the block at Sotheby's in London. Highlights include Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque 1990 and Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne 1991, both estimated at $2,825 to $3,768 per dozen. From the Southern Rhône, Paul Jaboulet Aîné's Hermitage La Chapelle 1978 is estimated at $471 to $565 per bottle. The Bordeaux selection includes first-growth clarets from the 1980s and 1990s. Burgundies from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti are well represented as are domaines Ponsot and Comte Georges de Vogüé.
On June 4 at Sotheby's in London, the proceeds of a highly important consignment -- estimated at just under $1 million -- will benefit the Belgian children's charity La Fondation Charles-Albert Frère. Donated by Belgian businessman Albert Frère and his wife in memory of their late son, their offering comprises all the first-growths from the 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 2000 vintages in 750ml and large-format bottles.
Additional highlights include a jeroboam of Château Mouton-Rothschild 1985 signed by Belgian artist Paul Delvaux who designed the label, and a comprehensive range of Château Pétrus from 1975 to 2000, featuring an imperial from each of the 1998 and 2000 vintages.
Albert Frère is not only an avid wine collector, but also the co-owner of Château Cheval-Blanc with Bernard Arnault, and a co-owner of châteaus Rieussec and L'Evangile with Baron Eric de Rothschild. "For this sale," said Frère, "I have personally made a selection from the very best wines in my cellar, knowing that they will provide much enjoyment."
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