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It is an almost dizzying thought ... Ten years have passed since autumn 2004, when the hammer fell on the first lot to be sold at Systembolaget's first ever Selected Wine & Spirits Auction. The years have simply flown by and many changes have taken place. We have moved on from traditional auctions to internet auctions. From 1,000 lots per year to 4,500. From two auctions per year to eight.
And we are now looking forward to holding a special, traditional auction to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
We would like to welcome everyone to this historic event, to be held on 10 December 2014! It all kicks off at 17.00 at Nybrogatan 32 in Stockholm, Sweden.
A total of 156 lots have been assembled, worth an estimated SEK 2.9–3.2 million and including number of items from vintage years. For example, the first lot has a rather extraordinary history from more than one perspective ...
The very first lot auctioned ten years ago was a bottle of 1907 Gôut Americain from Heidsieck Monopole. So what better way to launch the anniversary auction than with an equivalent 107-year-old in great condition?
The bottle was actually salvaged from the seabed, where it had lain in the wreck of the two-masted ketch Jönköping, built at the Motala shipyard in Norrköping, Sweden. When it went down, the vessel was en route to the Tsar in St. Petersburg carrying a cargo of Champagne, Cognac barrels and Bordeaux wines. Many of the bottles of Champagne were still in remarkably good condition when salvaged in 1997–98. They had lain undisturbed for decades at a depth of 64 metres, shielded form sunlight and kept cool by water at a temperature of 4ºC . Ideal conditions, in fact – but not, perhaps, the most accessible wine cellar! Rather inconvenient to have to slip into your deep-sea diving equipment every time you need a new bottle for the dinner table ...
Anyway, there are many more rare items among the lots, including a magnum of Deutz Vinotheque, 1975. Laying hands on one of these bottles is quite a coup, as only 200 were ever produced – and it is the only 'blanc de noir' to stem from this Champagne house.
There are also examples of Selosse 1986 and Bollinger Vielles Vignes Francaises 1988 from non-inoculated vines predating the period when the grape phylloxera spread like wildfire through vineyards around the world, as well as other bottles of Champagne from famous vintage years, including 1990 and 1996.
So what is a 'vintage year'? Well, the defining factor is the weather conditions. Hours of sun, amount of precipitation, ratio of hot days to cold all interact, creating different conditions every year. Other elements that affect the quality of a vintage are the timing of the harvest of the fresh grapes, how they are handled and refined. It is an intricate puzzle where everything has an influence – location, weather conditions, the skill of the vintner, and the development potential of the finished wine. Occasionally, all the pieces fall into place and a true vintage is born.
Examples of vintage years for Champagne include 1986, 1988, 1996 and 2002. For Bordeaux wines, years of note are 1945, 1947, 1949, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1982, 2000 and 2009, while 1964, 1966, 1969, 1978, 1990 and 2005 are vintage years for Burgundy.
This auction features a number of vintage Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, including a 1945 and a 1959 Haut Brion, a 1961 La Mission Haut Brion and both a Latour and a Mouton from 1982.
Lot 98 is a 1964 Leroy Grands-Échézeaux Burgundy, which signals the handing on of the baton. Other noteworthy items in this category include a number of DRC Romanée Conti from different vintages between 1975 and 2009, as well as some wonderful Rousseau bottles from the period 1983–2002. In addition, the auction has Vosne-Romanée from Henri Jayer, Lamarche La Grande Rue, and a mixed case of Ponsot featuring a variety of bottles from different grand crus. We have also found room for a 1990 Rayas, Sassicaia, Gaja, Ygay, Harlan and Grange, along with an 1830 Madeira, Vintage Port and wine from the Massandra Collection.
As regards brandy, we have a 140-year-old Cognac, and in the field of single malt we have Bowmore Gold and Ardberg in limited, numbered editions from 1964 and 1965.
We have spoken at some length about classic vintages. This may not yet apply to the current year when it comes to our Selected Wine & Spirits Auctions, but we have certainly enjoyed an exciting run since the first auction. Over the years, we have actually dealt with almost 22,000 lots, equivalent to around 130,000 bottles. In addition to this, we were offered thousands of items that we declined to sell for various reasons following checks by our quality assurance department.
I only mention this to highlight our responsibility to be thorough. In our opinion, it is extremely important that you – our customers and bidders – feel confident that we are doing everything in our power and as far as possible to assure the quality of the items we auction off.
In contrast to the wines and spirits sold in shops around the world, we cannot simply open a representative bottle and taste it so be sure of the quality. We have to rely on the results of our own examinations, and what we can see by looking through an illuminated bottle – rather like a gypsy gazing into a crystal ball ...
Nevertheless, we can guarantee 156 lots and a wide variety of rare items. So once again – a warm welcome to you all to our 2014 anniversary auction!
Auction 10 December 5pm
Nybrogatan 32, Stockholm
Enquiries or to book a private viewing, please contact our experts:
Sören Nylund, Appraisal Supervisor, Selected Wine & Spirits Auctions, Systembolaget
tel: +46 8 503 303 97
Tobias Axelsson, Viewing Coordinator, Selected Wine & Spirits Auctions, Systembolaget
tel: +46 8 503 305 65