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Rare Inglenook wines up for auction

Rare bottles of Napa legend Inglenook – including vintages from the 1940s – come under the hammer in New York this month.

Inglenook, the estate built by Gustave Niebaum at the turn of the century, which Francis Ford Coppola bought in 1975, spending the next 40 years reconstructing and restoring, was until the 1970s one of the most renowned Californian wines.

Since then the Inglenook name has passed through several owners and the Inglenook brand became synonymous with the lowest-level jug wines.

Earlier this year Coppola acquired the Inglenook name and now intends to restore it to its former reputation.

Coppola first called the estate Niebaum-Coppola, then Rubicon Estate, and he will now restore the original name to Inglenook.

‘I now have the right wine and the right people behind it. If that doesn’t rehabilitate Inglenook, then no amount of public relations is going to do that for you,’ he told Decanter.com in June.

Now he is auctioning a bottle of Inglenook 1935, estimated at US$600-800, from what Christie’s terms ‘the golden era’ of winemaker John Daniel Jr, and two bottles of the 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, estimated at US$8-12,000.

American critic James Laube described the 1941 as ‘one of the greatest red wines ever made, and Christie’s suggests it ‘can take its place’ alongside such wines as 1945 Mouton, 1982 Lafite and 1961 Latour.

Also for sale are key vintages from the years 1946-2008, the later bottles under the Rubicon name.

Describing the restoration of Inglenook as ‘a remarkable labour of love’ Christie’s wine specialist Charles Antin said, ‘All of the wines…were acquired by Mr Coppola when he purchased the estate in the 1970s and have remained undisturbed…[they are] the true crown jewels of the Napa Valley.’

Fine and Rare Wines, Featuring Inglenook from the Private Collection of Francis Ford Coppola takes place on 24 September at Christie’s Rockefeller Center, New York

Written by Adam Lechmere

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