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Rare Napa wine of Judgement of Paris fame sells for $12,000

A new record auction price has been set for a bottle of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ historic 'SLV' Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1973 vintage, said Heritage Auctions.

Heritage Auctions said a single bottle of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ ‘SLV’ Cabernet Sauvignon 1973 – representing the Napa Valley red wine that beat top Bordeaux in the landmark 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting – fetched $12,300.

That marks a new record auction price for the wine, said Heritage.

It was sold to a bidder who wished to remain anonymous during an auction of nearly 4,000 wines from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ ‘legacy collection’.

Steven Spurrier’s 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting helped to put California and Napa on the world wine map.

Winning wines have been named by the prestigious Smithsonian Institution as among 101 items that ‘made America’, alongside Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

Only a handful of bottles of 1973 ‘Stag’s Leap Vineyards’ (SLV) Cabernet remain in Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ collection, Heritage Auctions said.

Stag's leap wine cellars slv 2018

The SLV 2018 vintage label. Credit: Heritage Auctions.

Its auction of bottles from the winery’s ‘legacy collection’ included many vintages of estate-grown labels SLV, Fay and Cask 23, plus Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet and its Napa Merlot.

Other highlights included an 18-litre ‘melchior’ bottle of Cask 23 1985, which fetched $9,840. Total auction sales from the collection reached $600,000.

Frank Martell, senior director of fine and rare wines at Heritage Auctions, said ‘56% of all Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars lots sold at or above the high estimate.’

Marcus Notaro, winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, said, ‘This auction was the first time we’ve opened up our library at this level, and we are thankful to all the collectors and bidders who turned out and showed the pent-up demand for our high quality and age-worthy wines.

‘We hope our legacy collection wines will be enjoyed to their fullest.’

The sale was part of a two-day auction event held by Heritage over 10 and 11 March. Hosted from Beverly Hills, total sales at the two-day event were $2.55m, with more than 700 bidders from around the world, Heritage Auctions said.

There has been particularly strong demand for fine wines globally in the past year, according to several merchants and analysts.

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