T his Spring, Sotheby’s Wine will present The Ultimate European Cellar From a Visionary Collector, a landmark single-owner wine sale featuring over 970 lots of Europe’s greatest wines (estimated at HK$60-82 million / US$7.7-10.6 million), in Hong Kong on 28 May.
This extraordinary collection comes to the market from the cellar of a passionate wine lover with exceptional taste and an enduring quest for excellence, who formed strong relationships over the years with some of the finest wine producers. Amassed over decades, the depth and breadth of the collection is a result of regular visits to vineyards, assessments of vintages, crus and terroirs, study of winemaking methods and changes with generations, followed by astute and perceptive wine buying.
The sale offers a broad range of the greatest wines from top French producers spanning three centuries, presenting an amazing opportunity for any wine collectors to widen horizons, and to compare growers, châteaux, vintages and epochs. The sale boasts an outstanding offering of Burgundies, featuring 75 lots of Henri Jayer (estimated in excess of HK$29.8 million / US$3.8 million), and 75 lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti spanning seven decades (estimated in excess of HK$7 million / US$916,000). Highlights from Bordeaux include 63 lots of Petrus spanning almost a century including the legendary vintages of 1945 and 1947, and from the Left Bank, Mouton Rothschild in a variety of formats. Historical vintages include Lafite 1898, and a sensational range of historical Yquem, with the oldest vintage dating back to 1865.
“This is a fabulous collection from a formidable connoisseur, a friend of many of Europe’s finest winemakers. For me, it is also a meeting of minds and palates, with a personal connection that makes it unique, in the true sense of the word. This is a sale of legendary proportions and tremendous excitement that will enhance the lives of wine lovers everywhere.”
This extraordinary collection of wines was put together by a private European collector, who amassed this cellar over many decades. He travelled throughout Europe’s best vineyard areas, developing personal relationships with the finest producers and wine growers.
The wine collector purchased the vast majority of the wines on release from European agents and sourced directly from the estates themselves, ensuring impeccable provenance.
The wines have been stored in a private cellar in Northern Europe, with consistent cold and humid cellar conditions, perfect for long-term ageing of fine wine.
Inspection and Shipping
In October 2020, Sotheby’s Wine Specialists carefully inspected and catalogued each bottle. The wines were then shipped from Europe in a temperature-controlled container to Crown Wine Cellars in Hong Kong.
The late, great Henri Jayer died during the 2006 harvest but his influence and principles live on with those in Burgundy who saw how he worked and learnt so much from him. Undoubtedly, he is also revered among wine lovers who have his wines in their cellars. For decades he managed the estates of others as well as his own vineyards. He studied oenology in Dijon and particularly appreciated the chance to taste wines other than from Burgundy, thus enhancing his overall knowledge of wine making. From the beginning, Henri Jayer had great respect for the soil and for the grapes, his raw material, preferring 'sélection massale' to clones, as then he could produce small berries with resistant skins. He loved old vines, if possible with an average of 50 years, and this enabled him to limit production without recourse to green harvesting. An enemy of any form of 'greenness', he always destalked and was an early supporter of sorting tables. He picked very ripe and used natural yeasts. Cold macerations before fermentation and new Tronçais oak barrels were a rule of thumb, always marrying modernity with tradition. We certainly owe much to Henri Jayer, particularly the 'discovery' of Cros Parantoux, which was lying fallow, requiring him to clear it of rocks with a wheelbarrow! To appreciate the great wines of Henri Jayer at their best, remember that they normally have a good deal of sediment, so rest them well after any movement. Serena Sutcliffe, MW
The Domaine, as it is known, is iconic. Much more important, it also produces the most extraordinary wines in Burgundy - and it has been doing so for a long time. The generations responsible for the Domaine change, but the terroir remains. And these are very special vineyard parcels indeed, married to meticulous care and philosophy leading to low yields and healthy, ripe grapes, at whatever cost. From the 1990s, vineyard policy has been organic, with co-owner Aubert de Villaine monitoring everything with his usual attention to detail. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines evolve and develop dimensions in a way that resembles a mosaic - points of bouquet and flavour making up a harmonious whole that becomes more beautiful as it unfolds in the glass. Yes, these are hedonistic wines and yes, they are not like any other. The trick is in capturing what these remarkable plots of vines can give and letting them express themselves through minimum intervention and enlightened nurturing. Serena Sutcliffe, MW