if ever there was a (real) unicorn wine…

Update 15.10.2018(20.8.2018)billn

Following up on my previous post – ‘already time for jayer’s records to fall?‘ – Finally some detail is available from Sotheby’s on their October sale.

I’d assumed Romanée-Conti 1945 to be a unicorn wine, but that can’t be, because there are two bottles in this sale – and for the first time in 15 years, Rudy Kurniawan hasn’t been anywhere near an RC 1945 label!

I must say that the pre-sale estimates for the 1945s look laughable – how about 100k+ per bottle, or 250K? I think much higher, I expect the record from the Henri Jayer sale to be obliterated!

I asked the question, but it seems that Robert Drouhin doesn’t want to do any interviews on the subject of this sale, that said, I still managed to relay a question through ‘channels’ along the lines of: “I was interested in one of the videos that Maurice wrote back to his wife (from German prison) to tell her that it was time to start bottling one of the vintages of the DRCs. For the French/Belgian markets; was that a decision for the maison, rather than the domaine? Or simply because Maison Drouhin elevaged their own barrels – or…?” To which I kindly recieved the following response:

We have little in the way of archives but in a couple of letters from Maurice to his wife we see that he purchased part of the wines of DRC (but not RC) in the 1938 & 1940 vintages (La Tâche, Richebourg, Grands Echezeaux…) Maurice decided on the bottling of those wines. The corks and labels were provided by the Domaine. We don’t know for 1939.


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Sotheby’s Press Release:

An Historic Offering of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
*The World’s Most Celebrated Producer*
Featuring 100 Lots of Legendary Vintages Spanning from 1937 to 1964
Emerging from the Personal Collection of Mr. Robert Drouhin,
Patriarch of Maison Joseph Drouhin & Longtime Distributor for DRC
As Close to a Direct-from-the-Cellar Auction of DRC as Has Ever Been Held
Auction 13 October at Sotheby’s New York

NEW YORK, 16 August 2018 – Sotheby’s is honored to present Rare Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the Personal Cellar of Robert Drouhin in a dedicated auction of 100 lots on 13 October 2018 in New York. This historic offering of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is emerging precisely after more than 50 years in the cellar of Mr. Robert Drouhin, patriarch of the family-run Maison Joseph Drouhin, who is internationally recognized as one of the wine industry’s most renowned figures.

The sale will offer DRC vintages spanning from 1937 through to 1964, acquired by Mr. Drouhin and his father, Maurice, directly from DRC, mostly during their time as the exclusive distributors in France and Belgium for the Domaine – a highly-covetable attribute that amplifies the collection’s pristine provenance. Superlative bottles of Maison Joseph Drouhin from Grands Crus will also be on offer from 1959, 1961 and 1962. The sale this October will present collectors with an unmatched opportunity to acquire legendary vintages of DRC, with only one owner since being removed from the cellar of the world’s most celebrated producer.

This unprecedented selection comes to market during a remarkable surge in demand for wines from Burgundy, which has steadily increased over the last five years. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti reigns supreme within the region – in fact, DRC has led Sotheby’s Wine’s Annual Market Report as Top Producer every year since we began our yearly rankings in 2013.


Robert Drouhin said: “It is a great pleasure to offer these 100 lots at auction with Sotheby’s Wine in October. These wines span four decades and are filled with remarkable and historic vintages from one of the world’s greatest Domaines. I have had access to these remarkable wines for many years, given that Maison Drouhin was the exclusive importer of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in France and Belgium from the late 1920’s to the early 1960’s. The wines being offered have never left Beaune and have been in my private cellar, undisturbed, for more than 50 years. I have been fortunate to enjoy many of these exceptional bottles with friends and family over the years, and now it is time to share them with others. I hope that the buyers of these wines will know how scarce they are, how good the wines should be, and drink them with friends and family who can appreciate and enjoy them the right way.

Serena Sutcliffe, MW, Honorary Chairman of Sotheby’s Wine, commented: “It is a great privilege for us to offer this historic collection of wines from the Drouhin family’s legendary cellar. This is an enchanted kingdom in the realm of wine and we are honoured to be asked to bring these precious bottles to auction. The vintages are among the greatest ever made in Burgundy, both extremely rare and gloriously individual. The perfect provenance stems from the long relationship between the Domaine de la Romanée Conti and the Drouhin family, two of the most respected names in Burgundy. The breathtaking line-up of DRC’s stunning vineyard sites brings back memories of vocabulary-defying wines that are imbued with the excitement and complexity of tasting at its pinnacle. One can hardly believe that these wines still exist – but, happily, they do! The icing on the proverbial cake is in the Drouhin Grands Crus from three show-stopping years, a complement to the DRC treasures. This is Burgundy’s Gift to the World.



Maison Joseph Drouhin is internationally recognized as one of Burgundy’s foremost négociants and wine producers.

Established in 1880 by Joseph Drouhin, the domaine began acquiring vineyards in 1919 under the direction of his son, Maurice, after years of solely purchasing grapes to produce the quality wines for which it had become known in Beaune. Over several years, Maurice fostered close relationships with some of Burgundy’s most prominent families and business owners, including those of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. From circa 1928 through to circa 1964, Maison Drouhin was the exclusive distributor of all DRC wines in France and Belgium – a highly-respected position that also afforded Maurice the opportunity to own many valuable pre-war wines, some of which will be offered in the October sale.

With so many great wines in the cellars of Maison Drouhin, the collection became a target for the Germans during World War II. Acutely aware of the value of these precious commodities, Maurice built a wall inside the cellars – a labyrinth of ancient paths and vaults located underneath the city of Beaune — to conceal an impeccable selection of wines, largely comprised of DRC. His son Robert, then just 8 years old, gathered cobwebs and dirt to spread about the fortress in an effort to hide the newly-built chamber. Maurice’s instinct to hide the wines would soon prove to be sound. In August 1941, he was arrested by the German police while on his way to the Hospices de Beaune, a well-known charity hospital where he served as vice president.

Accused of engaging in anti-German activity, a result of his suspected role in the French Resistance, Maurice remained in prison for several months. While in custody, he often wrote to his wife, Pauline, about how best to safeguard their cellar and the Drouhin business. It was on a visit to see her husband that Pauline delivered the news of an exciting opportunity: DRC was prepared to sell half of its business, and Maison Joseph Drouhin, their largest distributor, could acquire a significant portion of the estate. While imprisoned, Maurice was unsure of his fate and also unable to obtain a bank loan, so he declined to purchase shares of the famed producer.

Though he was released in February 1942, in June 1944, Maurice again found himself a target of German forces, who were prepared to re-arrest him, having now obtained sufficient evidence to support their initial suspicions. Maurice had anticipated the likely event, and as officers knocked on the door of his Beaune home, he escaped through a window and descended into the cellars, which ran from the Drouhin’s home to the Hospices de Beaune. It was buried beneath Beaune where Maurice would remain hidden by nuns from the Hospices until the city was liberated in September 1944.

After the war, Maurice returned to work fulltime for Maison Drouhin until he suffered stroke in 1955. Having remained in the Drouhin family for more than a century, the management of the domaine was transferred in 1957 to his son, Robert Drouhin, who grew the burgeoning company into a dynamic and expansive global business with vineyards located throughout the Côte d’Or, Chablis and Oregon. Today, Maison Joseph Drouhin is managed by the founder’s four grandchildren, Frédéric, Véronique, Philippe and Laurent, who, under the tutelage of their father, Robert, continue to uphold their family’s legacy and “passion for vine and wine”.

Photos courtesy Sotheby’s Press Office…


  • 1 MG 1937 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $30,000 – $40,000 (3 Lots)
  • 1 BT 1938 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $20,000 – $30,000
  • 1 BT 1945 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $22,000 – $32,000 (2 Lots)
  • 2 BT 1954 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $20,000 – $30,000
  • 2 BT 1959 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $13,000 – $18,000 (2 Lots)
  • 2 BT 1961 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $18,000 – $25,000
  • 2 BT 1962 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $16,000 – $24,000
  • 2 BT 1964 Romanée Conti, DRC est. $15,000 – $20,000

LA TÂCHE | 23 Lots

  • 1 BT 1941 La Tâche, DRC est. $3,000 – $4,000
  • 1 BT 1942 La Tâche, DRC est. $4,000 – $6,000
  • 3 BT 1943 La Tâche, DRC est. $11,000 – $15,000
  • 3 BT 1945 La Tâche, DRC est. $18,000 – $26,000 (2 Lots)
  • 3 BT 1949 La Tâche, DRC est. $15,000 – $20,000 (2 Lots)
  • 1 MG 1959 La Tâche, DRC est. $10,000 – $15,000 (4 Lots)
  • 4 BT 1964 La Tâche, DRC est. $10,000 – $15,000


  • 3 BT 1947 Richebourg, DRC est. $9,000 – $15,000 (4 Lots)
  • 3 BT 1952 Richebourg, DRC est. $10,000 – $15,000 (12 Lots)
  • 3 BT 1959 Richebourg, DRC est. $9,000 – $15,000 (10 Lots)
  • 3 BT 1961 Richebourg, DRC est. $5,000 – $7,500 (10 Lots)
  • 3 BT 1964 Richebourg, DRC est. $10,000 – $15,000 (2 Lots)


  • BT 1962 Griotte Chambertin, Maison Joseph Drouhin est. $6,000 – $9,000 (2 Lots)
  • 6 BT 1959 Clos de la Roche, Maison Joseph Drouhin est. $4,000 – $6,000 (2 Lots)
  • 6 BT 1962 Bonnes Mares, Maison Joseph Drouhin est. $6,000 – $9,000 (3 Lots)
  • 6 BT 1961 Musigny, Maison Joseph Drouhin est. $9,000 – $12,000 (2 Lots)

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Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 2 responses to “if ever there was a (real) unicorn wine…”

  1. MIKE GOLUB21st August 2018 at 12:20 amPermalinkReply

    I’ve had all of the selections mentioned vintages the 1945 is the best of them all and still is!
    I think it is the best of all the wines offered by the Domaine

  2. chad1st December 2018 at 6:42 pmPermalinkReply

    45 was just a stellar year. I have had first growth from 1945 ( Doug Frost even came over and decanted it for us at midnight lol) but never anything from Burgundy. I would be the asshole that once i bought it, i would have to pull a cork or two just to toast the sell!

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