Here is the first instalment of our region-by-region analyses of the best-selling bottles of the first half of 2019. This week, we take a closer look at the most prized wines from Champagne. You won’t be surprised to see that old vintages, rare wines, prestigious houses and large formats are on top.
We have chosen to cite only the most expensive vintage of a property by converting its auction price to basic bottle size (75 cl).
Landmark years on top
As often in this region where vintage bottles are not common, the best years are very popular. This is reflected in many auction lots, ranging from 1952 (a magnum of Perrier-Joüet) to 2006 (a Jeroboam of Love Deutz).
During the first semester of 2019, four Champagne houses stand out with an auction value over €1,000. The first is Dom Pérignon 1959 from Moët et Chandon, which sold at €6,202. In second place, you’ll find the Cuvée « S » 1959 from Salon (€4,134 in 2019 vs €3,480 in 2018). This house, famous for its Chardonnay champagnes from Mesnil-sur-Oger (in the Côte des Blancs), is distinguished by its tiny production levels (between 60,000 and 80,000 bottles) of only vintage champagnes. Moreover, this year again, the Clos du Mesnil from Krug ranks third on the podium with, this time, the 1988 vintage. This result proves the interest in treasures from prestigious houses, for instance the cuvée Winston Churchill 1990 by Pol Roger.
Grower champagnes vs champagne houses, the rivalry goes international
Although still a minority of production, grower champagnes are attracting a lot of attention. The atypical vinous nectars from Jacques Selosse confirm their growing success (the blanc de blancs Extra-Brut 1996 went under the hammer for €754 in the first half of 2019, the same vintage wine sold for €456 in 2018) and those of Jacquesson are also seeing good growth. A bottle of 1989 late disgorgement Jacquesson was bought at €372, propelling it to 9th position. A timid breakthrough for the moment, which also affirms the appetite for prestigious bottles from iconic houses with an international reputation. Introducing Krug (No. 3) and its cuvée Clos du Mesnil, Bollinger (No. 4) and its rare « Vieilles Vignes Françaises » made from pre-phylloxeric plants, Philipponat (No. 11) and Billecart-Salmon (No. 12) with their respective single-parcel cuvées: Clos des Goisses and Clos Saint-Hilaire (a plot of one hectare with a complete vinification system on place).
Fine bubbles and large formats
If the highest-priced wines correspond to bottles, we have witnessed growing interest in large formats, as seen in the sale of a Mathuselah of Cristal 2002 by Louis Roederer, a Jeroboam of Amour 2006 from Deutz and magnums of 1985 Dom Ruinart and René Lalou 1985 from Mumm.
Un mot pour conclure ? Rappelons ce que les vignerons ne cessent nous dire : « les champagnes gagnent à vieillir ». Les bulles s’affinent, les arômes évoluent et s’harmonisent. Bien avisés seriez-vous si vous misez sur leur potentiel. Vous pensez détenir un beau flacon millésimé ? Gardez-le bien précieusement, demandez une estimation gratuite ou vendez-le. Sans doute le verrez-vous un jour figurer au sein d’un futur palmarès, qui sait ?
A quest for specialist wines
Salon in second position underlines the growing curiosity for specialist, collectors’ wines. In the same category, we find Egly-Ouriet (n° 16, with its Brut Grand Cru 1996), a small-scale house that cultivates vines from massal selection. The same applies to Pierre Péters, whose family owns 20 hectares of of beautiful vines that produce powerful and elegant wines. And finally, of course, at a time when organics is of the moment, the biodynamic house Louis Roederer is in seventh position, with a Cristal 2002.
To conclude, we mustn’t forget that favourite adage of winemakers: “champagnes get better with age”. The bubbles get finer over time; the aromas evolve and harmonise. You would do well to bet on their cellaring potential. If you think you have a top vintage bottles, why not ask for a free estimate? You can either keep it or sell it, and who knows, it might one day feature on the podium of an iDealwine ranking!
|Highest-priced bottle||Date||Hammer price (inc. VAT)||Unit hammer price (inc. VAT) converted to bottle format (75cL)||Variation on iDealwine price estimate||Buying country||Buyer profile|
|Rosé||1 Bottle of Dom Pérignon Moët & Chandon 1959||27/02/2019||6,202 €||6,202 €||9%||United-Kingdom||Trade|
|White||1 Bottle of Salon Cuvée S 1959||31/01/2019||4,134 €||4,134 €||89%||Japan||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Clos du Mesnil Krug 1988||09/05/2019||1,824 €||1,824 €||4%||France||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Vieilles Vignes Françaises Bollinger 1990||13/03/2019||1,398 €||1,398 €||–||Austria||Private|
|White||2 Bouteilles Comtes de Champagne Champagne Taittinger 1976||24/04/2019||1,873 €||937 €||44%||France||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Jacques Selosse Millésime Brut Blanc de blancs Extra-Brut 1996||24/04/2019||754 €||754 €||–||Hong Kong||Private|
|White||1 Mathusalem Louis Roederer Cristal 2002||24/04/2019||4,864 €||608 €||–||Germany||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 1990||20/03/2019||389 €||389 €||3%||Hong Kong||Trade|
|White||1 Bottle of Dégorgement Tardif Jacquesson Signature 1989||22/05/2019||372 €||372 €||–||France||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Réserve Charlie Charles Heidsieck 1979||23/01/2019||340 €||340 €||15%||Italy||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Clos des Goisses Philipponnat 1975||06/03/2019||316 €||316 €||–||Hong Kong||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Brut Le Clos Saint-Hilaire Billecart-Salmon 1998||03/04/2019||304 €||304 €||13%||Hong Kong||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Brut Champagne Henri Giraud Argonne 2002||06/03/2019||268 €||268 €||15%||France||Private|
|White||1 Magnum of Dom Ruinart Ruinart 1985||17/04/2019||535 €||268 €||47%||Slovakia||Private|
|White||2 Bottles of La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1985||05/06/2019||511 €||255 €||16%||United Kingdom||Trade|
|White||1 Bottle of Brut Grand Cru Egly-Ouriet 1996||20/03/2019||233 €||233 €||9%||France||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Cuvée des Princes de Venoge 1976||19/06/2019||231 €||231 €||7%||Denmark||Private|
|White||1 Bottle of Brut Pommery 1953||24/04/2019||219 €||219 €||–||France||Trade|
|White||1 Bottle of Brut Champagne Armand de Brignac Gold||20/03/2019||207 €||207 €||–||Hong Kong||Trade|