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Christie’s rare old Burgundies to 1924

Christie’s is putting together a sale of old Burgundies including the extremely rare 1945 vintage, and bottles going back to 1924.

At a preview in London last week, some tasters were amazed at the quality of the wines, which start at 1985 and go back to 1924, while others were slightly more circumspect.

The reds range from Beaune 1er Crus from 1985, through the Nuits Saint Georges Les Perrieres 1978, a Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1959, Beaune Greves 1er Cru 1955, Musigny Grand Cru 1955, Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 1945, Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru 1934, Clos Saint Denis 1929 and Corton Marechaudes Grand Cru 1924.

The whites include the Meursault-Charmes 1er cru 1969 and the Batard Montrachet Grand Cru 1929.

Price estimates range from around €45 per bottle to €160.

The wines all come from the cellars of old-established Burgundy negociant-growers Seguin-Manuel. They have been kept in excellent condition and have been regularly re-corked, Christie’s wine director Anthony Hanson told decanter.com.

‘It’s a most exciting discovery,’ he said. ‘It’s very rare to come across good quantities of top Burgundy with good levels. They have managed the ullages very carefully – the wines have been well looked after.’

Hanson was especially pleased with the 1945 Charmes Chambertin, which he estimates will fetch around €160 a bottle. There is ‘nearly a case’ to be sold of what is an extremely rare vintage.

That and the 1955 are among the ‘greatest vintages of the 20th century’, he said. The 1945 is especially rare as it is the ‘victory vintage’ at the end of the Second World War, and few bottles survived the celebrations.

Hanson pointed out that the 55 and the 45 would make excellent presents for any baby boomers having a 50th or 60th birthday this year.

The tasters found the wines fascinating and delicious, with some reservations. One senior member of the London trade was not impressed, though readily conceded the wines would fetch good prices.

‘Basically they are old negociant wines – over the hill and not very interesting, but of course they will sell because of their rarity.’

The experts were far more impressed by the reds than the whites, which were considered ‘slightly tired.’

But others were very positive. Veteran consultant and Burgundy expert Bill Baker said, ‘The older ones were the best. I thought the 1978 Nuits St Georges should have been more vibrant, but then the 59 Clos Vougeot was great, both the 34s were marvellous – the Grand Echezeaux was wonderful – and the Clos St Denis 29 was stunning.

‘Definitely – the older wines were the most impressive.’

The sale takes place at Christie’s Paris on 6 April.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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