Chateau Lafite, Antinori under the hammer at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

  • Tuesday 9 October 2007

Lunch at Chateau Lafite, a private weekend on the Antinori estate, and backstage tours of the Royal Opera House were just some of the charity auction lots going under the hammer at a splendid Decanter dinner at Covent Garden last night.

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The Decanter wine gala dinner at the Royal Opera House wowed guests with a procession of top wines, personal recitals by opera stars and auction lots.

Held in the Paul Hamlyn Hall at London’s Royal Opera House, attendees were served top wines including Dom Perignon 1999, Chateau Lafite 1983 en magnum, Antinori’s Badia a Passignano 2001 and Taylor’s 1977 port en magnum.

Guests included Baron Eric de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite, Jean-Luc Pepin of Burgundy house Comte Georges de Vogue, who introduced the de Vogue Bonne Mares 1997, Tony Hall, head of the Royal Opera House, Allegra Antinori, Richard Geoffroy of Dom Perignon, Bernard Hervet of Domaine Faiveley, and Jancis Robinson MW.

Opera stars Marina Poplavskaya, Toby Spence and Mark Stone, accompanied by Renato Balsadonna, the Royal Opera House Chorus Master, performed a recital prior to the gourmet dinner.

Guests sitting down to the dinner were served Morecombe Bay potted shrimps - a perfect combination with Domaine Faiveley's Corton-Charlemagne 2003, said Christie's Anthony Hanson MW, as well as roast grouse with Alsace bacon and watercress puree, and an Angus beef fillet with a wild mushroom fricassee.

Auction house Christie’s, an associate of the event, also presided over a small auction of lots specially put together for the evening. Up for grabs included seats at Royal Opera House performances as well as backstage tours, a private lunch with two of the principal dancers, a weekend at Taylor’s port house and a two-day trip to Tuscany to visit Antinori.

The highlight of the auction, hosted by Christie’s David Elswood, was lunch for six at Chateau Lafite, at which Baron Eric de Rothschild promised to open the 1982, 1949 and 1904 vintages.

The lot, number five of 12, eventually went for £16,500. All proceeds went to Jette Parker Young Artist’s Programme, which helps to hone the skills of up-and-coming performers.

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