Wine collection sells for record-breaking £23million

A wine collection has the industry fascinated as it sold for a huge amount recently. The wine collection consists of 16,889 bottles and sold for a record-breaking £23 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.

To make it even more mysterious, the collector is known only as the ‘Transcendent Collector’, and no-one is sure of their identity.

Wine collection sells for record amount

The high-end wine collection was originally predicted by Sotheby’s to reach a total of £19.9million. This would have set a new world sales record for a collection owned by a single owner. During the three-day sale, the total burst through this estimate and ended up at a truly impressive £23 million.

Sotheby’s describe the collection as on “a scale the like of which has never seen before”. It includes grand cru Burgundies, a large set of Dom Perignon champagnes going back to 1926 and Krug vintages going back six decades.

Other high-end auction lots

The auction also hosted more than 275 lots of the most sought-after Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanee Conti. There were vintages of this wine going back five decades. In 2018, one of this vineyard’s bottles broke its own record when a single one was sold for £426,000 in a New York auction.

According to Sotheby’s there were also sales of La Mission Haut-Brion 1945 Bordeaux, and several bottles of Chateau Lafite 1962. Around 600 lots of Dimoane Coche-Dury also sold, which included Meursalt Perrieres bottled between 1982 and 2014.

New wave of wine collectors

The Head of Wine Sales for Sotheby’s Asia, Adam Bilbey, told Deutsche Welle TV: “We are confident in the quality of the wines and the providence… this particular collector is a shining example of the new wave of collectors in the world.”

However, Sotheby’s also declined to name the wine collector. The wine catalogue from the auction suggests that the seller is a property developer from Asia, but there is no confirmation.

Sales of single-owned wine collections are extremely popular with serious buyers. This is because it’s much easier to establish the provenance of the wines and find out where it was stored. This sort of collection is a rare occurrence in the world of wine auctions.

How should you store your wine collection?

To some, the idea of a wine cellar is restricted to rich collectors who have centuries old bottles to store. But even if you have a few bottles of wine in your home collection, storing it properly is important.

It’s easy to become an accidental wine collector, particularly if you have an eye for a bargain. It just makes sense to buy a few bottles of a wine that’s on offer, for example. Or perhaps you pick up wines when on holiday because they’re not easily available at home. However you amassed your wine collection, don’t make the error of spoiling it by storing incorrectly.

How to store your home wine collection

To keep wines stored for a decent amount of time, it’s a good idea to have somewhere to store them that maintains a controlled temperature. Humidity levels are also key to storing wine without spoiling it. This is particularly important if you live somewhere humid and warm, where temperatures exceed 21 degrees Celsius for much of the year.

With record-breaking spells of hot weather in 2018, and more forecast for this year, this could include parts of the UK. Without somewhere that can store the wine at optimal temperature and humidity, you are in danger of spoiling some of your favourite bottles. Garages, cupboards or warm cellars are out.

Different types of wine cellar

You could have access to an underground cellar that is unheated and remains cool throughout the year. If you do, then you’re in luck. Check the temperature of your basement, cellar or garage and if it stays below 15.5 degrees Celsius with a humidity of over 75%, then you have what’s called a ‘passive wine cellar’. It’s named for the lack of action needed by you to turn it into a great storage area for wine. Just stash your bottles and leave them.

However, this usually only applies to deep underground cellars constructed with thick stone walls, which aren’t available to everyone. Most collectors set up a room that is cooled and humidified by technology to ensure their wine has somewhere safe to age.

Ideal conditions for a wine cellar

A decent wine cellar must stay cool and remain at a constant temperature. The ideal range is between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius, with no major temperature swings. The

storage area must also be humid, with an ideal humidity range of between 70% and 95%. Anything above 95% and you’re inviting mould into your storage area.

The storage area should be vibration-free. This means that any noise from outside, such as heavy traffic, or from nearby appliances, can damage your wine. It should also be dark, with no direct sunlight damaging the wine. Think of your collection as a fragile, expensive investment and ensure it’s in a properly insulated and climate-controlled space.

How to choose a wine for every occasion

If you get overwhelmed when trying to choose the best wine for a special occasion, you’re not alone! The sheer variety available can seem overwhelming, particularly when you’re out to impress.

And while we’d always encourage choosing something you enjoy above everything else, there are ways to take the pressure off selecting a bottle for that dinner party or gathering.

A wine for every occasion

Look at any wine seller and you’ll find varieties for every season of the year. You’ll find wines grouped into categories for lots of different occasions, endless food and wine combinations and at every conceivable price.

There are white, red, fortified, sweet and rosé wines, and within those you can find light or full-bodied versions, oak-aged wines, very dry wines, very sweet wines, low alcohol versions and wines at 22% proof.

With all of this choice, it’s no wonder some people can find it tricky to choose a wine for a special occasion. Let’s have a look at some options that work well.

A wine for a family party

For a wine that hits the right note on your family occasion, whether it’s a birthday or a meal with your in-laws, go for a fruity and sparkling Cremant de Bordeaux. It’s not too pricey and won’t seem over the top but is suitably delicious and ideal for a celebration.

If you’re having Sunday dinner, and want something a bit special, then try some French sparkling to go with the traditional red. Choose a Spanish merlot to go with a heavy, rich meat and follow with a light Prosecco to freshen up. It gives even a normal Sunday a bit of added pizzazz.

A wine for a romantic night in

While Champagne is often chosen for a bit of romance, don’t underestimate the power of a deep red as well. For a Valentine’s Day dinner, you can’t go wrong with Champagne and oysters.

But if you prefer something spicy, opt for a Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone to enhance the meal and spice up your evening.

The ‘will you marry me?’ wine

Again, Champagne might seem the obvious choice, but if you want your proposal to stand out from the crowd, go for a vintage red. A French red like Saint Emilion Grand Cru is deep, dark and satisfying, and the vintage flavour says long-term commitment like nothing else.

The Saturday takeaway wine

Staying in is the new going out, and a Saturday night in can be much more fun than heading into town. If you like your nights in with friends and a takeaway, then grab a bottle of Chianti to go with it.

It’ll add some class to your takeaway and make it feel more like a special feast than a bog-standard pizza.

Why wine-lovers should visit this Italian village

Italy is packed with gorgeous towns and vineyards for wine lovers to visit. Places like Montepulciano, Barolo and Montefalco regularly attract wine buffs wanting to holiday in wine producing regions. The village of Bolgheri in central Tuscany is one of the lesser-known wine destinations, even though its region produces all kinds of expensively acclaimed wines.

Wine lovers should visit Tuscany

Bolgheri is a beautiful village in Tuscany with much outside of wine to recommend it too. The road to the village is called the Viale dei Cipressi and is one of the most famous in the country thanks to its dramatic corridor of trees. More than 2000 cypress trees line the 5km road to the village.

The village is rooted in the Middle Ages, like many villages in this region of Italy. The Castello di Bolgheri was built during this time, leading to the arrival of the della Gheradesca family. Their descendants still own the castle today, and their legacy helped lay the foundations for famous Tuscan wines. When the family inherited land with potential for grape cultivation, they pioneered wine that would eventually end up labelled ‘Super Tuscan’.

Many wine estates in the region

Wine lovers staying in Bolgheri can use the village as a base from which they can visit many other estates. Among these are Ornellaia, which was launched by Lodovico Antinori, and is now owned by the Frescobaldis, another important wine family from Italy.

Another must-visit is Podere Sapaio in Donoratico, which produces Volpolo DOC and Sapaio Bolgheri Superiore, two very popular wines. Various travel companies specialise in high-end winery tours, with tastings available in the Bolgheri region at many smaller wineries.

Yet another noted wine maker in the region is the Castello di Bolgheri, which is nestled among 130 hectares of land. Its label of the same name is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and its cellar can be visited. People who really want to get a flavour of this wine region can stay at one of the farmhouses on the estate.

The village itself boasts a number of restaurants and eating places that serve up amazing Tuscan food with wines to match. Try Enoteca Tognoni for hearty portions and delicious wines.

Australian wine producers struggling with highest temperatures on record

Australia is suffering through a record-breaking hot summer. And it’s having a big effect on Australian wine producers as the deal with grapes that have ripened much faster than normal.

This will make the country’s wine made from this summer’s crop more alcoholic and more expensive.

Australian wine producers battling heat

The summer of 2018/2019 has set records across Australia and prompted Tasmania’s weather authority to announce that it looks like Autumn is delayed as temperatures stay high.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia confirmed that the summer is the hottest since 1910, when records began. Daily temperatures were up to 2.1C hotter than the average, breaking the previous record of 1.3C hotter set in 2012.

Long run of hot weather affecting vineyards

Not only have temperatures been higher than normal, the summer has lasted longer too. And this long run of dry, hot weather is negatively affecting the country’s wine industry, which is worth £3.2 billion.

Australian wine is popular for its cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and shiraz in particular, and is much-loved in the UK, the US and China. The country is the sixth biggest exporter of wine, and the largest supplies go to the three countries mentioned.

As the temperature has caused the grapes to ripen much faster than normal, growers are struggling to harvest them before they become ruined by the weather. Andrew Margan is a winemaker from the Hunter Valley region, which is just north of Sydney. He says that both red and white grape varieties are ripening at the same time due to the heat: “There’s a compression of vintage so that historically, the varieties would ripen at different times and now they’re all ripening together.”

Dry heat leads to higher alcoholic content

Winemakers also point out that the dry heat is giving wine a higher content of alcohol. How much it’s affecting flavour remains unclear. Over the last 20 years, the country has been experiencing steadily hotter temperatures, which have been making its wine richer and more alcoholic.

Redman Wine’s Bruce Redman says: “We are getting pretty similar characteristics in terms of aromas and flavours, but we are tending to find that in the past 20-odd years the alcohols have probably tended to creep up from around 13 to 13.5 to 14 per cent by volume. The higher alcohol content leads to a sweeter flavour, and a richer wine. “

Yield decreases as price increases

According to data from Rabobank, the grape crush in Australia will probably decrease by about 5% this year. However, as the heat is still going, it could fall even further before the weather turns. Prices, on the other hand, are increasing in some areas by up to 20%.

Winemakers are coming up with new ways to fight the heat, including growing out of the canopy in an attempt to protect the vines from the strongest sun of the day. Some, including Tyrell’s Wines, one of the country’s oldest winemakers, are even trying sunblock on the grapes. The winemaker picked its first vintage in 1864, and in 2014 began using sunscreen on its grapes to combat rising temperatures.

Tyrell’s says that around 70% of the crop was sprayed this year with a flavourless and safe sunscreen to prevent them being ‘burned’ by the hot sun. Bruce Tyrell says: “We put sunscreen on our kids, so why not on our grapes? We spray it on, the grapes will go a blue/grey, which looks a bit odd at first, and that’s it. We don’t even have to wash it off. It’s flavourless, and after spraying, it’s business as usual.”