Fine wine news roundup: 16-22 January
Acker kicks off 2021 with $6.5m auction
Fine wine auction house Acker made its official debut in Delaware last week with a three-part online sale that made $6.5 million and smashed 152 new world records.
Highlights from the sale included 12 bottles each of 1990 and 1989 Chateau Petrus which sold for $52,290 and $49,800 respectively, and 12 bottles each of 1998 d’Auvenay (Leroy) Bonnes Mares and 1995 George Roumier Bonnes Mares, which each realised $47,310.
Other top names to go under the hammer included Chateau Le Pin, Domaine Dujac, Comte Liger Belair, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Domaine Leflaive. The latter alone claimed 13 new records, led by 12 bottles of 1994 Chevalier Montrachet which fetched $10,583.
“It was these three superlative collections that brought even more bidders out of the woodwork in a rollicking start to the New Year,” said Acker chairman, John Kapon. “While it was hard to imagine the fine wine market fortifying itself even further, it seems like 2021 will put its own unique stamp on things as we continue to see record-breaking numbers sale after sale.”
Acker will continue its efforts in Delaware across 4-5 February, with the company’s third annual Grande Fête de Bourgogne.
'Exquisite’ Burgundy 2019 to face high demand
Burgundy 2019 has been met with widespread acclaim despite concerns over uneven flowering prompted by cold snaps and intense heat spikes during the growing season.
As reported by The Drinks Business, wine growers have described the vintage as “extraordinary” and “spectacular”, with Tom Harrow of Honest Grapes commenting that he “can’t recall such an even-handed vintage since 2010 for both reds and whites”.
However, the challenging growing conditions have resulted in smaller volumes, with some domaines reporting the smallest vintage for years. The Drinks Business reports that some grand crus in high demand will therefore be offered in allocations “of three or even one or two bottles”.
This could, however, give lovers of Burgundy the perfect occasion to venture away from their usual go-to labels, with BBR’s Max Lalondrelle noting that the vintage provides a “great opportunity for wine lovers to explore beyond the big names and discover some new favourites amongst the lesser-known wines”.
Auction Napa Valley returns as ‘Direct from the Cellar’
Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced last year that it was retiring its annual Auction Napa Valley event after 39 years, due to the impact of COVID-19 and Californian wildfires. Now, the association has revealed it’s planning a new annual auction to replace it.
In partnership with Zachys, the inaugural auction, named ‘Direct from the Cellar’, will see members of the association raiding their cellar stock to create a collection of more than 100 exclusive library lots. Bidding will open on 11 February, and close on 20 February.
More details will follow, but bidders can expect prestigious offerings from the likes of Harlan Estate, Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Shafer Vineyards and more.
NVV has also announced that its separate Premiere Napa Valley auction will be moved from spring to 1-5 June this year, and will combine a new online format with limited in-person events. According to the announcement, Premiere Napa Valley “will take place no matter the circumstances”. It will mark the 25th anniversary of the auction, and the vintners will also partner with Zachys on virtual bidding “to bring our auction to the next level”.
London Wine Fair goes digital
Organisers of the London Wine Fair (LWF) have confirmed that year’s event will be 100% virtual, following ongoing uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, existing contingency plans mean the event, taking place 17-19 May, promises to be “the most advanced digital show of its kind”.
“In December we were very confident that a live event would be possible,” Hannah Tovey, head of the LWF, told Harpers. “Everything was looking extremely positive at that stage and the Association of Event Organisers was advising that live events could safely take place from early 2021. But just one-month on, there is now just too much uncertainty and we cannot be confident in delivering a safe and meaningful live event.”
Plans for the digital fair include virtual rooms featuring industry briefings, seminars and masterclasses, while exhibitors will have access to a virtual stand and bookable one-to-one meetings. They will also have the option to send out samples to visitors.
Tickets for visitors will cost £20 and will give access to all three days.
World’s ‘most prestigious’ wine collection to go on display for eye-watering entry fee
How much money would you pay to see the world’s ‘most prestigious’ wine collection? Ardent wine collector Michel-Jack Chasseuil believes it’s a lot, as he prepares to display his personal 50,000-bottle collection to the public for the first time, with entry costing €500.
Chasseuil has been collecting wine since the 1960s, and now boasts a cellar full of famous names from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Chile, many of which are worth thousands of euros. His is, according to the 79-year-old, the “most prestigious” collection in the world.
His idea to formally exhibit a ‘Louvre of wine’ has been declined by several national institutions, which is why Chasseuil is now taking matters into his own hands. He has built a 350m-squared exhibition space underneath his home in western France, and intends to charge visitors €500 to look at the collection. Tasting is strictly off limits.
In the past, Chasseuil has shown his collection to notable figures including Prince Albert II of Monaco, French-American NBA star Tony Parker and interested Chinese millionaires, one of whom reportedly offered to buy the lot there and then for €50 million – an offer that was declined.
Indeed, there can be little doubt about Chasseuil’s commitment to his collection. In 2014, masked gunmen held him hostage and threatened to kill him if he didn’t tell them how to bypass his high-tech security system. Despite the terrifying ordeal and enduring several broken fingers, he refused to give up the information. Five men were later charged and sentenced to prison for their part in the incident.