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Fine wine news roundup: 21-27 March


Cheval Blanc hits half a million at Sotheby’s sale

Sotheby’s sale of fine and rare wines and spirits held in London last week realised a total of £3.7 million, with a “substantial proportion” of lots exceeding their high estimates.

The highlight of the sale was a bottle of 52-year-old Karuizawa Japanese whisky, which sold for a record-breaking £363,000. On the wine side of things, however, the top-selling lots were two extremely rare cases of 1947 Cheval Blanc, which sold for £242,000 apiece.

Jamie Ritchie, chairman of Sotheby’s Wine, commented: “Against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstance, the persistence and commitment of collectors came through in yesterday’s sales … Collectors continue to compete for the world’s greatest wines, and when there is an opportunity to acquire the very best the market has to offer, as with the two cases of the legendary Cheval Blanc 1947, they are willing to stretch to the highest level.”


Californian wines to take centre-stage at Christie’s online sale

Christie’s next online-only auction will feature a fantastic collection of California labels, as well as top names from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Champagne.

The sale – which runs from 24th March to 7th April – includes wines from revered Californian estates such as Promontory, Opus One, Insignia, Dominus, Ridge, Bond, Araujo and Spottswoode, as well as a selection of wines specially bottled for the Premiere Napa Valley Auction.

One particular highlight will be a selection of Harlan Estate spanning 1991-2014 in bottle and magnum formats.

Bordeaux will feature in the form of several First Growths, while buyers can expect Burgundy to be represented by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Laflaive. Meanwhile, Champagne on offer includes bottles of 1985 Bollinger R.D., 1988 Salon vintage and various Dom Perignon vintages from the 1980s and 1990s.


Piedmont producer adds rare Timorasso to its portfolio

A producer in Piedmont – the Italian region garnering increasing attention in the midst of Bordeaux and Burgundy’s slow down – has started selling a white wine made from rare local grape Timorasso.

Producer Vietti said it has taken “years of research and collaboration with local winemakers” to produce the wine, which was aged in a combination of ceramic, wood and stainless steel.

The Timorasso grapes have been sourced from vineyards located around the town of Tortona, near the border between Piedmont and its neighbouring provinces of Liguria, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. The grape had been grown in the region since the Middle Ages, and was considered the area’s leading variety until Phylloxera arrived in 1879.

However, the variety was saved in the 1980s by Walter Massa and Andrea Mutti who salvaged what vines they could, ultimately sparking a renaissance for the grape which has, according to Vietti, an “exceptional ageing and evolutionary potential”.

The wine – labelled ‘Derthona’, the ancient Roman name for Tortina – is the second white wine variety to be produced by Vietti.


Inaugural Bordeaux Day postponed until September

Bordeaux wine body CIVB has postponed its inaugural Bordeaux Day due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The new event, which was announced last month, will offer expansive tastings, informative seminars and themed showcases, designed to provide visitors with a complete picture of Bordeaux wine. Originally due to take place in London on 5th May, the event has now been rescheduled to 9th September.

In a statement, the CIVB said: “We have been monitoring the evolution of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and in France and listened to the advice of the British and French governments and health services. After careful evaluation of the event and the potential risk for both visitors and exhibitors, we have unfortunately decided to postpone Bordeaux Day.”


Hong Kong’s first virtual wine tasting to take place in April

The ongoing coronavirus situation might have resulted in multiple event cancellations, but some in the fine wine industry are keen to demonstrate that physical distance needn’t impede connection between oenophiles.

The Fine Wine Experience will be hosting Hong Kong’s first live streaming wine tasting in April. Those purchasing the merchant’s ‘Understanding Village Burgundy Reds’ pack will receive a tasting booklet alongside six wines to taste during an expert-led interactive tasting session, which will take place on Facebook on 2nd April.

The company is also offering customers the opportunity to purchase Coravin at a reduced price, to mitigate any issues associated with opening all six bottles at the same time.

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