– with 1,363 bottles, 158 magnums and 3 jeroboams of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines up for auction in December. PDF here.
The pre-sale estimates look much more realistic, in the current market, than those by Sothebys for the recent record-breakers, and if you haven’t previously seen magnum format DRC ‘Assortments,’ here is your chance – and offered in multiple vintages too!
Certainly there were very many questions surrounding the lots in earlier auctions from this auction house, but the last sale, dedicated to Henri Jayer, was seemingly beyond reproach. Personally, I wouldn’t touch the older lots – that simply reflects my own risk-reward approach – but wines of the 1990s and younger I would be more open to, that said, additional provenance info would still be a pre-requisite. It is good that there are high-resolution photos of all the lots available on the auction website which you can access here – though it seems naive of them to make the serial numbers visible. I note the statement by Baghera that “this December 2nd sale is a golden opportunity to acquire Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines embracing ideal conditions of origin, of traceability and of storage” – so it would be essential to have some expansion of that information.
A spokesperson for Baghera told me:
“This couple of European collectors were wine passionates and had been purchasing Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines for many years, directly from the Domaine.
When consigning with us, they wished that they identity wasn’t disclosed and we respect their decision.
The wines had never been moved since purchased, and have lying all those years in an underground temperature-cellar. Most original wooden cases were still sealed (as per photographs on our website : www.bagherawines.auction) when we had access to this incredible cellar (pictures of the sealed cases can be found on our website : https://www.bagherawines.auction/en/catalogue/voir/27 — under the lot description). The wines were inspected and picked up by Baghera/wines last July and delivered to Geneva after temperature-controlled shipment as it should be. “
For the younger wines I completely understand, for the older ones, this is very murky territory; clearly the two collectors didn’t buy them direct and they will have been moved multiple times, if genuine. There are many more questions in respect of provenance to be answered here.
One thing to note, despite the bottle-posing elegance of Baghera’s photos – the enviable collection of many, many lots of DRC Montrachet when posed against a green background, above (from their catalogue), renders all the bottles – young and old – looking completely oxidised. Who knows, maybe there is method in their madness…
[Edit:] As always, it’s the old bottles that are problematic: See here.
In this particular segment of the market, there are many more fake than genuine wines to be found – to be taken seriously, this auction house has to be more forthcoming on why they stand behind these wines. It may be that just a handful of questionable wines can take the shine from an otherwise brilliant collection of a lifetime. This is the attention to detail that all modern auction houses have to aspire to – 95% good isn’t good enough – and, even if this attention to detail is there, it is not yet evident to me. For extra sleuthing, I’ll leave that to Don Cornwell and Maureen Downey. NB – two things; I do note the final thanks (page 433 of the catalogue!) to Jean-Charles Cuvelier, long of DRC, “for his precious help” – but the detail and extent of that help can only be guessed at. Finally The last page of the catalogue reports the sale date as 02.12.2008 – hmm – it’s always the biggest bloopers that pass people by…