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Drouhin agrees to ‘once-in-a-generation’ auction with Sotheby’s

Auction house Sotheby's intends to capitalise on Burgundy wines' popularity by selling rare vintages spanning five decades direct from the cellars of Maison Joseph Drouhin.

Sotheby’s will host the auction of 1,925 ex-cellar Drouhin bottles and magnums in New York on 8 March, and expects the sale to fetch up to US$650,000.

Top Burgundy wines dominated the global auction market in 2013, led by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC). Sotheby’s alone sold $7.2m of DRC, which was its best-selling estate last year, but the ex-cellar Drouhin sale marks an attempt to broaden Burgundy’s appeal.

It is a rare event due to the small volumes of individual wines produced. ‘The next generation of Drouhin will do the next one,’ domaine president Frederic Drouhin (pictured) told decanter.com in an interview.

‘We wanted to do something outside of Europe, and we have very loyal customers in the US,’ Drouhin said.

His father, Robert, began building up a library of vintages in the 1960s. ‘It was the first thing he did. Year after year he put the wines aside.’

Drouhin said ‘there were many dilemmas’ over which wines to choose for the Sotheby’s sale, although the auction team had some input. ‘They came to the cellar and they saw the pile of Musigny ‘61.’

Alongside the ‘61, critically acclaimed Burgundy vintages such as 1971, ‘78 and ‘85 will be represented in the sale, which is to include a wide range of wines such as Musigny, Chambertin Clos de Beze and Bonne Mares.

Drouhin anticipates the wines being sold for drinking rather than investment. ‘We’ve seen a development in auction sales for iconic estates, and that’s great, but many of the bottles purchased were bought to be resold. I’m confident that whoever buys these wines will drink them.’

He added that laying bottles down for future sales, rather than selling them in the short-term, has become increasingly challenging in Burgundy.

Written by Chris Mercer

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