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Fine wine news roundup: 16-22 May



DRC steals the show at Zachys Hong Kong auction

Zachys’ latest Hong Kong auction realised a total of HK$26.4 million last week, led by strong results for multiple lots of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

The top lot of the sale – the fourth instalment of the Ruby Collection – was an assortment of 1999 DRC, which sold for HK$545,600. This was followed by a case of La Tache 1986, which sold for HK$520,800.

Elsewhere in the sale, a single bottle of La Mission Haut Brion 1959 sold for HK$49,600, while six bottles of the legendary Latour 1961 realised HK$248,000.

According to the auction house, the Ruby Collection is one of the world’s largest and most complete collections of fine wine – and has realised more than US$18,000,000 since 2019. Owing to the pandemic, the sale of this part of the collection was held virtually and had attracted bidders from over 20 countries.

Zachys will hold its next fine wine sale in New York on 4th June.


Brilliant Burgundies on offer at Sotheby’s spring sale

Sotheby’s has announced that its next fine wine sale in Hong Kong will take place from 5th to 6th July, and will feature the auction house’s second highest estimated single-owner wine sale in Asia.

Anticipated to realise more than HK$78 million and titled ‘The Summit, A Complete Cellar’, the sale will offer more than 1,500 lots from an American collector, driven predominantly by top Burgundy producers. Bidders can expect names such as DRC, Domaine Dujac and Domaine Armand Rousseau, while some 200 lots will come in magnums or larger format bottles.

Elsewhere, there will be iconic vintages from top labels including Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Lafite, Petrus and Le Pin. The sale will also include rare Champagne vintages like 1996 Salon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and Philipponnat Clos Goisses.

Speaking of the collection’s provenance, Conner Kriegel, Sotheby’s head of New York auction sales, said: “We are privileged to present this collection which was assembled over three decades by a true connoisseur who learned about and discovered wine through his passion for gastronomy. He travelled extensively through Europe, dining and drinking at the best restaurants and then dutifully finding and buying the world’s greatest wines for his own enjoyment. The personal relationships with many wine producers also granted him privileged access to some of the rarest and most exclusive wines in the world.”


Nyetimber dramatically expands vineyard holdings

Renowned English wine producer Nyetimber has confirmed plans to rapidly expand its area under vine with a major planting of 42 hectares at a new site in Kent.

In a bid to keep up with increasing demand, 195,000 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines have been planted at the new site, which is located near the village of Thurnham. Meanwhile, 10,000 have been added to the estate’s main vineyard in West Sussex. This will allow Nyetimber to produce an additional 220,000 bottles a year once the vines reach maturity in 2023-24.

The estate said it was committed to the expansion “despite the challenging trading conditions”. Speaking to Harpers, Nyetimber owner and CEO Eric Heerema said that the project reflects their confidence in the long-term growth of the brand. “We can’t wait for these new vines to reach their full potential and the planting programme underscores our confidence, commitment and endeavour to produce the best possible English sparkling wine.”

The expansion brings the total number of Nyetimber’s vineyards to 10 across West Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.


Argentinian harvest proves ‘unforgettably challenging’

“Nothing about the 2019-2020 season has been usual,” according to a new harvest report from Wines of Argentina. Social distancing, an early harvest and a greatly-reduced processing window have all contributed to what the report calls an “unforgettably challenging” period for winemakers in the country.

Additionally, a combination of historically high temperatures, drought, frost and lower yields also contributed to the stand-out year.

However, despite these hurdles producers report cautious optimism about what is shaping to be a fine vintage. According to the report, there are “several unanswered questions” about how it has been possible to achieve such fresh grapes, given the challenges involved.

Those consultant for the report have suggested a number of explanations for the resulting grape quality, including a lack of water accelerating ripeness while preserving acidity, and leaf-fruit ratios enabling plants to better metabolise compounds that result in more polyphenols.

In any case, Marcelo Belmonte, vineyard director at Grupo Penaflor, concluded: “In all, this harvest was unique for a hot year in terms of acid preservation, good colour and fresh aromas. The reasons for this are being studied but experts are pointing to the lack of rain being a key factor.”

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