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Madeira auction success

Published:  23 July, 2008

One of the largest Madeira auctions in the UK for many years was 100% sold at Christie's South Kensington on Monday 20 February. The consignment of 176 lots was from an avid private collector who had amassed them over many years, and it included the full range of styles and vintages, as well as some exceptionally rare single bottles.
In addition to wines from the four noble' varieties, there were Bastardo, Terrantez and Tinta Negra Mole; and in addition to Vintage wines were increasingly scarce Soleras, described by Michael Broadbent MW at the pre-sale masterclass tasting
on 25 January as grossly undervalued: Vintage is generally more expensive than Solera, and presumed to be superior. In my experience, it's precisely the opposite.'

Among the rare Soleras and Vintages that started the sale were wines from 1811 (the year of the Comet), 1815 (the Waterloo vintage) and 1941 (the best of the war years, in which Nol Cossart laid down a pipe of Bual to commemorate the birth of his son David, whose initials CDGC are stencilled

on the bottle).

Many absentee bids had been lodged, and bidding was intense, especially for the oldest, rarest wines. The highest price of the day, however, was fetched by five bottles of Blandy's 1920 Malmsey, which sold for 1,565.50 (including buyer's premium) - more than three times the high estimate.

Many successful bidders exercised their option to take groups of identical lots. All of the Madeira lots sold, almost all of them for more than the high estimate, propelling the sale total to 119,786, which was 97% sold both by lot and by value.

Although private bidders will have been glad that the competition was not even more intense, most trade buyers still seem to be missing out on the opportunity to acquire some of the world's most special wines.