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Harrods offer Sauternes at £3000 a bottle

For anybody with a taste for the best sweet wine in the world and half a million pounds to spare, Harrods is offering a job lot of Sauternes - for £3000 (€4850) a bottle.

The ultra-luxurious London store has put together a vertical collection of top Château d’Yquem, spanning all 134 vintages made between 1854 and 1996, for £425,000 (€687,000).

The collection – which has been authenticated by the château – took Harrods wine buyer Alistair Viner two years to assemble. All the bottles were sourced in Bordeaux with 12 vintages coming from Château d’Yquem’s own cellars.

The collection is undeniably worth having – although experts are doubtful the hefty price tag offers the best value for money.

Sotheby’s specialist Richard O’Mahony told decanter.com, ‘It’s quite a rare collection. The last significant vertical we sold was five to six years ago.’

But he went on to say that very few bottles reach the £3000 (€4850) mark. The 1852 can fetch up to £4000 (€6467), but all other bottles sold by Sothebys are well below that. The average price of a 1920s Yquem is between £200 and £400 (€323-647).

According to Decanter’s Fine Wine Price Watch, of the later vintages only the 1967 fetches more than £500 (€808) per bottle, while the 88, 89 and 90 fetch between £120 and £160 (€194-258).

Although d’Yquem is undisputedly one of the greatest sweet wines in the world, auction prices have fallen substantially since the peak of the market in 1997.

But a factor to be taken into consideration is rarity. Hunting out Chateau d’Yquem isn’t easy – what took a Harrods expert two years might well take a private buyer longer.

Harrods wine shop manager Neville Sparks said, ‘1900 was the biggest problem because most of it was snapped up for the Millennium celebrations. 1945 and 1949 were the last ones we found because post-war vintages are very rare.’

Wine experts advise that authenticity and bottle condition are the essential elements when establishing a price for older vintages. In October 2001 Sotheby’s sold a collection of 1865 Chateau d’Yquem in outstanding condition, kept since 1870 in perfect conditions in the cellar of the Russian tsars, for £6,820 (€11032) a bottle.

Harrods has already spoken to two interested customers, but will give away nothing about them save that ‘they were not afraid of the price’ – which includes delivery to any UK address.

Picture courtesy Christie’s International

Written by Josie McLaughlin30 April 2002

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