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Christie’s sees strong bidding for rare Madeira

Several lots of 18th Century Madeira have prompted bidding wars among fine wine collectors during a pre-Christmas Christie's auction in New York.

Christie’s has made rare Madeira regular fixture in its final round of wine auctions before Christmas in recent years, and bidders were out in force for a host of lots from 18th Century vintages at this month’s sale in New York.

Christie’s sold a bottle of what is believed to be the oldest dated Madeira in existence – a 1715 JCA & CA Terrantez – for nearly US$20,000. It was aged for more than 50 years in cask before being bottled.

The auction house sold a bottle of the same wine last year for $26,950, suggesting it proved less alluring this time around. But, this year’s price was still well above the pre-sale high estimate of $15,000.

The 1715 Madeira was from a collection of vintage Madeira amassed by Braheem Kassab, a Syrian embroidery merchant.

Edwin Vos, of Christie’s, who last tasted the wine in January 2013, suggested the 1715 vintage could still work on the buyer’s Christmas dinner table.

‘It is remarkably youthful and surprisingly sweet for a Terrantez. The acidity is all packed in, which makes the wine appear more in the style of a fine Malaga.’

A further five separate single-bottle lots of Terrantez 1760 made $4,900 (three lots) and $5,145 (two lots) against a pre-sale high estimate of $2,800 at the Christie’s New York auction.

One bottle of HM Borges Pather 1720 sold for $9,188 versus a high estimate of $5,500.

According to Borges family lore, HM Borges, who ran the firm from 1877 until his death in 1916, had owned five ancient Madeiras in cask: Sercial 1810, Bual 1780, Terrantez 1760 and Pather 1720.

He refused to sell the wines, but they were transferred from barrel to demi-john in the 1930s, then bottled in February 1989.

The 2 December New York sale as a whole made $1.25m. Top selling lot was a bottle of Château d’Yquem 1811 – which fetched only $49,000, some way short of its $60,000 high estimate.

(Additional reporting by Chris Mercer)


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