Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
ParcelWine No VAT will be charged on the hammer pr… Read more THE FIRST 'FINEST and RAREST' Michael Broadbent recalls the first-ever 'Finest and Rarest' wine auction which took place at Christie's on 31 May 1967. It was the 24th of 32 sales held by the fledging wine department and its six staff, including myself, during its first season. The first, a 'Fine Wine' sale was held on 11 October 1966. After a number of exploratory auctions of wine in different categories, by May (1967) we seem to have got into our stride. On May 2 we boldly held our biggest ever sale, over 24,000 cases of 'Chateau bottled Claret and White Bordeaux', vintages 1958, 1960, 1961, '62, '63, '64 and '65, on behalf of Alexis Lichine et Cie. An unprecedented quantity, lot sizes ranging from 10 to 250 cases, all offered FOB Bordeaux. It will come as no surprise that we did not sell it all. But it was well worth the effort. At the end of that month we held one of the most spectacular sales, in terms of quality and rarity. Its potential clearly outshone the previous Fine Wine sales of the season and rules warranted a more fulsome title. It is worth quoting from the title page of the catalogue of 31 May: 'Finest and Rarest Wines from Private Cellars' 'including XVII Canary, Hock, Cape Wine and Milk Punch; early and mid-XIXth century wines and spirits; Lafite 1858, 1864, 1874 and 1893.' Then followed some totally justifiable name dropping to indicate provenance: 'The properties of the Most Honourable the Marques of Linlithgow, The Right Honourable the Earl of Rosebery, K.T., Amiya, Dowager Countess of Sandwich, The Right Honorable, the Lord Bruntisfield' whom I quickly described as a member of the 'beerage'! But it was the two grandees in order of precedence whose cellars had yielded the greatest rarities. Thanks to an introduction by (The Hon.) Patrick Lindsay, a senior partner of Christie's, I visited the historic Hopetoun House in November (1966). After breakfast, I checked and listed the contents of the cellar. I was on the point of leaving, on the doorstep, when Lord Linlithgow handed me a tiny, rolled up list of wines of his 'neighbour, Harry Rosebery', advising me to get in touch and mentioning that his mother had been a Rothschild. I didn't waste much time and so, not long after, checked and listed an astonishing two-part cellar full of the greatest wines, mainly Lafite, that I had ever seen. This was at Dalmeny, the Rosebery estate which, from my map (I went by car), appeared to be roughly the same size as and adjacent to Edinburgh! Early the following spring I did the same at Mentmore, Lord Rosebery's imposing mansion in Hertfordshire. There, over lunch, his Lordship told me why he had decided to dispose of his wines: at his age he no longer entertained on a large scale, and that to open, for example, a 'triple-magnum' of 1865 Lafite would be a waste. Of the large number of diners, over half would not notice what they were drinking and perhaps a handful would really appreciate such a great rarity. And what a sale! From Hopetoun House came the old Madeiras and rare liqueurs. Amongst the younger wines was a bin full (8 dozen) of Sandeman's 1911 'Coronation' vintage port. The mind-blowing pre-phylloxera Lafites were from Dalmeny and Mentmore. It opened with 19 Magnums and 6 bottles of the 1858 vintage, just a single magnum of the 1864 - the greatest Lafite of the century (and a wine I discovered, being served a decade later by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle banquets). Next came the 1865 Lafite: the two 'triple magnums' (jeroboams), 15 double magnums; a mere half dozen bottles of the 1871, and a prodigious quantity of the 1874: 40 magnums and 66 bottles. After that came Latour 1874, Mouton-Rothschild 1878, burgundy - 1865 Corton, magnificent old 'Hock' and 'Moselle', rare Sillery, 1857, 1865, 1871 and 1874 in magnums and bottles. I shall not bore readers with the prices, save that the two triple-magnums of 1865 Lafite fetched #125 and #155 respectively and the magnums and bottles were sold in shillings per 6 or per dozen. Prices converted to pounds are meaningless and bear no relation to the succeeding inflationary prices. Oh, by the way: the pre-sale tasting was more than usually interesting. Potential bidders were treated to Lafite 1858 and 1874, Latour 1874, the 1865 Corton, sundry excellent old German wines and the rare Sillery. Those were the days! SAGATIBA PRECIOSA - 'ACQUA VIVA' OF BRAZIL The National drink of Brazil is known as Cachaca. The spirit is produced by the distillation of the juice derived from unrefined cane sugar, introduced to Brazil by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. Following the primary sugar production, the discarded crushed canes were used mainly for cattle fodder but before long, workers discovered their alcoholic potential and started to produce a rudimentary and somewhat rustic version of the spirit we know today. In a market with over 4,000 different producers, Sagatiba is a new name in the world of Cachaca, being established as recently as 2003. The name derives from the combination of the Nordic suffix 'saga' meaning legendary search and the Brazilian native Tupi-Guarani word 'tiba' meaning infinite. In 2005, a rare cache of high quality Cachaca was uncovered in the cellars of the oldest distillery in Sao Paulo, the Engenho Central or Central Mill, distilled 23 years earlier in 1982 and slumbering undiscovered in French oak barrels. Filtered and purified by Sagatiba using the most demanding quality standards, the spirit, christened PRECIOSA, now clearly shows the complexity and characteristics of a very high quality Cachaca. 'Light golden amber in colour, aromas of toasted coconut, prune and raisin compote. Also notes of floral honey and vanilla. A soft, rich entry leads to a supple, off-dry palate, medium to full-bodied. Flavours of honey and cream, raisins and delicate spice - an elegant and poised aged cane spirit with great balance, power and finesse' Here we are offering the first 5 exclusive numbered bottles in a limited edition bottling. The undoubted quality of the spirit will be further enhanced by presentation in a specially designed bottle and handcrafted, individual wooden case, created by renowned Brazilian designer Claudia Moreira Salles. Following the auction, a very limited quantity of non-numbered bottles of Preciosa will be released for sale in Europe, Brazil and the USA. David Elswood - International Head of the Wine Department
Sagatiba Preciosa

1 bottle per lot
Details
Lying at Christie's South Kensington
Sagatiba Preciosa
1 bottle per lot
Special Notice
ParcelWine
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

More from Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits

View All
View All