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Spotlight On: La Tâche 1999 and 1996

John Siudut
Posted: September 13, 2007

La Tâche, the southernmost grand cru vineyard in the Vosne-Romanée appellation, is a monopole owned by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. At 6.1 hectares, the vineyard produces about 1,800 cases a year, which makes it relatively available at auction and retail--if you're prepared to pay. Most recent vintages of La Tâche are garnering over $1,000, with top vintages such as 1999 commanding significantly more. But relative bargains, such as the 1996 vintage, can still be found.

La Tache 1996 (96 points, $335 release price, $1,539 current price) and 1999 (97 points, $NA release price, $2,757 current price) traded at similar price thresholds-between $1,000 and $1,500 per bottle-from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the third quarter of 2006. But recently, the 1999 vintage has taken off in price. In the past nine months it rose in value by 130 percent and now averages $2,757 a bottle. At Acker Merrall and Condit's Sept. 7 and 8 sale, three six-bottle lots each sold for $15,125, or an average of $2,521, confirming this trend.

In comparison, at the same Acker auction, a six-bottle lot of the 1996 was snapped up for $9,075 or $1,513 a bottle, a slight decline from its second quarter valuation on the Wine Spectator Auction Index. The 2002 (96 points, release price $NA) and 2003 (not reviewed) are trading at similar levels. At a recent Sotheby's sale, the 2003 sold at an average of $1,992 a bottle. Since the 1996 has already aged for more than 10 years, this may be a great time to buy, before the outsized prices for the lauded '05 Burgundy vintage raise the stakes even higher.

Both the 1996 and 1999 La Tâche are being sold at two upcoming auctions this weekend. Zachys' auction on Sept. 14 and 15 has a three-bottle lot of 1996 La Tâche with a high estimate of $4,200 and two lots of the 1999, one of which is a six-bottle lot in its own wooden case and carries a high estimate of $13,000, or $2,166 a bottle. A Christie's auction on Sept. 15 has a large cache of DRC on the block. Lots 309 to 357 are all DRC, including a dozen bottles of the 1996 at a high estimate of $18,000 and a three-bottle lot of the 1999 at a high estimate of $6,000.

This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. This chart plots the average price of La Tâche 1996 at auction against La Tâche 1999.

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