Wine & Spirits

As cultured people, we are obliged to live by the words and wisdom of Oscar Wilde, who simply states: “Pleasure without Champagne is purely artificial.” Cheers! На здоровье! 

 A Legendary Wine Cellar Goes to Auction 

Painstakingly picking vintages and varietals from vineyards throughout France for nearly three decades, David Ridgway has built La Tour d’Argent’s subterranean stone cellar into as much of a legend as the fabled 427-year-old Parisian restaurant itself. Now, 18,000 bottles of those hand-selected wines and spirits aged exclusively in the cellar were sold in Paris on Dec. 7–8, 2009, by French auctioneer PIASA, as Ridgway, the head sommelier, seeks to pare downthe massive collection from 450,000 bottles to about 400,000 to better suit the restaurant’s changing needs and further diversify the selection by adding new winemakers and vintages. Historic vintages on the block include a bottle of 1810 Grande Fine Champagne (Renault) valued at €1,200 to €1,400 ($1,800 to $2,000) and a bottle of 1870 Château Gruaud Larose (St. Julien) valued at €900 to €1,000. (Read Full Article)

Wine Cave Auction Exceeds Expectations

An 18th-century bottle of cognac was the top lot at the first-ever saleof 18,000 wines and spirits from La Tour d’Argents four-century-old wine cave in December 2009. The two-day auction fetched €1.54 million ($2.3 million),surpassing expectations of the fabled Left Bank restaurant frequented by international luminaries and celebrities.  “When one considers price as a main indicator of performance, this sale was an exceptional success,” said La Tour d’Argent owner André Terrail. The Association Petits Princes, a Paris-based charity which aims tomake the dreams of children with severe illnesses come true, was thebig winner, as it receives €25,000 ($37,000) from the sale of the1788 Vieux Cognac Le Clos Griffier which had been valued at €2,500 to€3,000. (Read Full Article)

Shaken And Stirred: The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (Forbes)

Nearly nine decades after famed barman Harry Craddock concocted his first signature dry martini, those in search of a classic cocktail flock to the American Bar at London’s tony Savoy Hotel. But stylish sippers don’t have to travel across the pond for one of Craddock’s legendary libations. The updated version of The Savoy Cocktail Book serves up 750 original recipes compiled by Craddock, along with new recipes, like the “millennium cocktail,” to mark the turn of the 21st century. The illustrations or “decorations” by Gilbert Rumbolt are inspired by the Savoy’s lavish Art Deco style and exemplify the spirit of an era that celebrated the cocktail. (Read Full Article)

Great American Wine Collection Expected to Earn Big in Hong Kong

A case of “lusty, meaty” Château Pétrus 2000 is among the lots sold in January 2010 in Hong Kong during Sotheby’s fourth installment of “The Classic Cellar from a Great American Collector.” The fourth session of the sale, offering the most valuable wine collection ever to hit the block at Sotheby’s, is expected to raise HK$28.5–40.8 million ($3.6-5.2 million). It takes place Jan. 23 at the Mandarin Oriental. Demand for fine wine has rocketed since wine duties were abolished in February 2008 and Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams resumed regular wine sales in the city. Sales at Hong Kong wine auctions have grown to $47.2 million so far this year, a 75 percent jump over all of 2008, according to government data. An October Sotheby’s wine auction in Hong Kong brought in $8 million. (Read Full Article)

Rare Wine Auction Takes Aim at Protectionism

A case of 2007 Chateau Latour valued at $5,400 is among the rare vintages up for bid in the “Wine Without Borders” Online FundraisingWine Auction to help support an effort to overturn laws prohibiting the shipment of wine across state borders. Chateau Latour describes its 2007 vintage as possessing “the generosity, the maturity and the richness of the tannins.” The harvest which ended on Oct.15, 2007, “took place in good climatic conditions,”Chateau Latour said on its Web site. “The botrytis was visible but very limited to some plots and perfectly removed thanks to the sorting in the vineyard. The first tastings after alcoholic fermentation show a good palette of aromas still discreet but beautiful tannic texture,rich, soft with lovely structure.” (Read Full Article) 

Investors Indulge Appetite for Luxury

Soaring international auction sales of art, wine, watches and jewelry signal that investors may be looking to luxury as a hedge against inflation. “Absolutely there is a flight to quality. Whether it’s art,jewels, or wine. If collectors sense there is a limited amount of the best, collectors will buy,” Judith Selkowitz,founder and president of Art Advisory Services, which has provided advice on the acquisition of artwork for corporations and private collectors since 1970, told Natasha in November 2009. Christie’s International and Sotheby’s sold a combined $95 million of watches, gems, and wine in one week at auctions in Geneva, setting world records for green diamonds, intense blue diamonds, and chameleon diamonds. (Read Full Article)