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Christie’s withdraws suspect DRC from New York auction

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's co-owner, Aubert de Villaine, has praised Christie's for withdrawing a magnum of La Tâche 1962 from auction at the eleventh hour, due to concerns it is a fake.

Correct? a bottle of 1962 La Tache without the circumflex

Christie’s confirmed to Decanter.com that it has removed the magnum ‘of its own accord’ from its fine and rare wines auction taking place in New York over 30 and 31 May.

It is understood to have pulled the wine, which carried a top estimate of US$24,000 excluding buyer’s premium, in the past couple of days.

‘The lot in question has been withdrawn from sale to allow time for in-person inspection by additional third-party experts,’ said a Christie’s spokesperson.

‘In keeping with our multi-step process for authentication, we have already been in contact with the domaine regarding the variations in labelling that often come with wines of this era.’

Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, welcomed the decision. While he has only seen a photo of the magnum in question, he said there were ‘justified doubts’ over some aspects of the labelling and bottle cap.

‘It is therefore right that Christie’s has withdrawn [this wine] from sale pending a more complete expert opinion,’ he told Decanter.com.

Doubts about the magnum’s authenticity were raised by lawyer and Burgundy collector Don Cornwell, via a forum post on the Wine Berserkers website.

Cornwell listed various errors with the label as shown in the Christie’s catalogue, including a circumflex over the ‘a’ in ‘Tâche’, which should not be there on a 1962 vintage.

He added that not all of the type on the label aligns, and questioned the wax bottled cap. Magnums of this vintage would normally have a foil cap.

He also suggested the magnum may have originated from alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, because the defects ‘are identical’ to several of the pre-1978 DRC bottles sourced by Kurniawan – including those withdrawn from a Spectrum Wine Auctions and Vanquish sale in February 2012.

Kurniawan is currently awaiting trial in the US and is known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his supposed in-depth knowledge of DRC wines. De Villaine is due to testify at the trial via video-link.

Written by Chris Mercer

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