“At iDealwine, I find everything I’m looking for, I just have to be patient”. These words from one of our clients sum up the rarity and variety of the wines that go under our auction hammer. The sales we held in January illustrated this once again, and every region had surprises in store for enthusiasts.
Bordeaux isn’t necessarily the first place we think of when it comes to uncovering hidden gems. However, from this vast and prestigious region, it’s a speciality of the auction context to uncover mature vintages – some impressively aged – as well as large formats. Among these was an imperial from Château Mouton Rothschild in its 1983 vintage which was sold for €3,684, which is a 34% increase when we scale it to a classic bottle size. Clients looking for usually unfindable wines will have been delighted to see two lots of 2009 and 2010 from the Allary family. Their domain, which used to be known as La Passion Haut Brion, covered 1.5 hectares within the grounds of Château Haut Brion. Eventually, it was handed over to the owners of a prestigious premier cru classé of Pessac-Léognan. Both 12-bottle cases went under the hammer for the same price, €3,537 (€295 a bottle), to a professional in Belgium.
In Burgundy, rarity is second nature. Certain prices have started to stagnate at a very high level, though. This is the case for wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, with the 2009 selling for €14,736, as well as Henri Jayer, whose 1978 magnum of Echézeaux went for €8,719. No respite, however, for Domaine Leroy or Domaine d’Auvenay. A 2000 Meursault premier cru Les Gouttes d’Or went to a client in Asia for €2,210 (+19%).
From the Rhône Valley, it’s the iconic Hermitage La Chappelle from Maison Jaboulet that heated thing up in January, going under the hammer for €3,819 in a vintage that is exceedingly rare, the 1949. In the south of the region, specifically in Châteauneuf, Château Rayas is seeing continued success with a 1990 vintage getting closer to crossing the €2,000 threshold.
Natural wines still on the up
From across the Loire valley, the gems to be discovered are myriad, and those that are produced and vinified naturally are drawing in more and more interest. January was a particularly good month for Domaine Bernaudeau (Anjou). The 2005 Nourrissons cuvée, made using hundred-year-old vines, sold or €401, whilst Xavier Caillard’s Jardins Esméraldins in Saumur continued its upward trajectory of over a year; the 2000 vintage went for €535. At the edge of the Loire is the Auvergne region, and from here we saw several lots from Domaine d’Aurélien Fort, a disciple of Patrick Bouju and a name increasingly sought-after at iDealwine. In magnum format, the 2017 ‘Les Epines A quoi Servant-Elles’ and ‘Negativ’ cuvées found buyers for €393 and €350 respectively.
Another hothouse for natural wine is, of course, the Jura. Cuvées from Domaine Ganevat have become iconic of their kind, and they’ve continued to attract enthusiastic bidders; a magnum of ‘Les Vignes de mon Père’ in its 2005 vintage was sold to a French buyer for €982. On a smaller scale, though still greatly coveted, the Arbois cuvées by Jean-Marc Brigot have excellent appeal. A 50cl bottle of ‘Trésor d’Aiglepierre’ Chardonnay went under the hammer for €270. This producer no longer makes wine in the region, having taken his expertise to Japan, the homeland of his wife. Some of these bottles, therefore, are real collectors’ pieces.
Auction stars from outside France
Based in France, it’s true that much of the wine we propose at auction is French. However, our horizons are expanding nicely, and there were some great results in January for fine bottles sourced elsewhere in the world. First of all, we have the US Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle, a name that resonates across the globe with its frenetically coveted bottles. Last month, we saw a 2007 vintage – a wine with a 100/100 Parker score, sell for €3,791 to an Austrian buyer.
At the heart of Tuscany, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia produces a special Masseto cuvée from one of the region’s famous peaks, where 100% of the vines are Merlot. This is a wine that enjoys meticulous treatment, and its even rarer magnum form found a home when a two-bottle lot was sold for €3,033 in the 1998 vintage.
Equally worthy of a mention is the Eiswein from domain Egon Müller, a veritable nectar made from grapes picked by hand in the depths of winter to produce an exceptional dessert wine. It’s a British wine lover who will have the chance to open this bottle of Riesling Scarzhofberger 1995, which went under the hammer for €1,228.