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Rare Lafite 1887 magnum tops £22,000 in Sotheby’s auction

Château Lafite Rothschild and Château d’Yquem from the 19th century have joined legendary Bordeaux wines from the past 80 years at the Sotheby's auction in London.

A magnum of Lafite Rothschild 1887 sold for £22,500 ($28,300) at a Sotheby’s auction of ‘vinous treasures’ spanning nearly 200 years. The wine, held in storage with Octavian group in Wiltshire, had a pre-sale high estimate of £18,000.

A single bottle of Château d’Yquem 1831 sold for £27,500 (pre-sale high estimate: £20,000).

Another bottle of Yquem, from the 1896 vintage, sold for £15,000, tripling its pre-sale high estimate. ‘An extraordinary wine from a very great Sauternes vintage,’ said Serena Sutcliffe MW, honorary chair of Sotheby’s’ wine department.

Sotheby’s said total sales in the London-based auction hit £1.4m ($1.76m), with 99% of lots finding buyers. Wines were sourced from a collection amassed during 50 years by two generations of connoisseurs, it said.

The vaunted Bordeaux years of 1945, 1959 and 1961 were among the top-selling lots in the auction. 

Eleven bottles of Lafite Rothschild 1959 sold for £56,250 (pre-sale high e: £40,000), according to Sotheby’s results.

‘Lafite nailed this vintage to a glorious level and experiencing it marks one for life,’ said Sutcliffe in her pre-auction notes. She named it one of her favourite clarets of all time.

Among other highlights, 12 bottles of Château Latour 1959 fetched £50,000 (pre-sale high e: £42,000).

Beyond that, there were strong prices for Petrus 1945, Mouton Rothschild 1945 and Latour 1961, all of which sit alongside Lafite 1959 in Decanter’s hall of fame as ‘wine legends’.

One bottle of Petrus 1945 fetched £25,000 (pre-sale high e: £11,000) and a bottle of Mouton 1945 sold for £17,500 (pre-sale high e: £11,000), while a magnum of Latour 1961 fetched £25,000 (pre-sale high e: £13,000).

Not all of the wines featured in the auction beat their pre-sale high estimates, but other notable highlights included a bottle of Petrus 1947, which sold for £23,750, eclipsing its high estimate of £4,500. A single bottle of La Mission Haut-Brion 1899 sold for £8,750 (pre-sale high e: £1,200).

Rare Burgundy also featured highly in the sale. A magnum of Henry Jayer Echézeaux 1980 sold for £20,000, roughly in the middle of its pre-sale estimate range (£18,000-24,000).

‘Today’s strong result shows, once again, the extent to which collectors value the world’s rarest wines, with only the most outstanding provenance,’ said George Lacey, head of UK auction sales at Sotheby’s Wine.

‘It was a privilege to be on the auctioneer’s rostrum to sell such an extraordinary range of exceptionally rare mature bottles, the likes of which are so seldom seen.

‘Demand came from all four corners of the globe, and the prices achieved, and enthusiasm with which we saw spirited bidders competing for these ancient bottles, speaks for itself.’

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