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‘Fluke’ saves cache of rare wines

A cache of 40 exceptional wines including a Jeroboam of 1949 Latour have come onto the market - and it was only by chance that they weren't ruined.

Ten bottles of Domaine de la Romanee Conti Richebourg 1969, magnums of 1964 Latour, a double magnum of Lafite 1960, Cockburn 1927, magnums of Sandeman 1935, a bottle of Roederer Cristal 1966 and a Jeroboam (4.5 litres) of Latour 1949 are a few of the treasures on sale.

The wines were the property of the late Lord and Lady Samuel Of Wych Cross. Lord Samuel was the founder of Land Securities, the company which owned the electronic advertising hoardings at Piccadilly Circus in London, part of the biggest property portfolio in Europe.

Simon Davies of Fine & Rare told decanter.com he had been called in to dispose of part of the estate and, shown round by a butler, found the bottles stored haphazardly in the couple’s north London mansion.

‘Some of them – a 1975 Pape Clement, a 1961 Gevrey Chambertin from Bouchard and a 1970 Corton Charlemagne from Louis Latour – had been in a cupboard in the kitchen and were completely spoiled.’

Davies told the butler there was nothing of interest, and prepared to leave.

‘Then the butler said “well, there’s a bit more outside”. He led me to the bottom of the garden to a big concrete bunker under a large tree which contained some gardening equipment.

‘At the back was a pile of large cardboard boxes which the butler explained were moved there from Trapps Cellars when it closed, and not touched since.

‘That was the treasure trove. It was a fluke that they had decided to keep some of them there.’

The ullage is ‘remarkably good’ on the best bottles, Davies said. He added that he had confirmed with some of the producers that they did in fact produce the unusual bottle sizes in given years.

He stressed that Fine & Rare is happy about provenance of the bottles. Many of them come with their original shippers labels, for example.

Davies also suggested that the condition in which he found them – the label of the 1955 Lafite had been half-eaten by slugs – precluded fraud, on the basis that fraudsters would present more perfect bottles.

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Written by Adam Lechmere

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