Finding a hidden cellar filled with early 19th century bottles of wine is the kind of thing that happens in movies but not real life.
And yet, according to Bollinger, the iconic, 187-year-old Champagne house, that’s exactly what happened.
Six years ago, an intern was cleaning a dusty corner of the company’s labyrinthine cellar, when he removed a few rows of empty bottles from a rack that was blocking a dark archway. Little did he know that he’d reveal a secret room filled with 600 vintage cuvées—all from the early 19th century to 1939.
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Now, on Nov. 19, Sotheby's New York will auction a collection of those extraordinary bottles during its first-ever stateside release of Bollinger vintages. The highlight of the sale? A 102-year-old bottle found in the secret room, whose bid price will start at $10,000. Gauging from comparable auctions, it’ll go for a whole lot more: In 2013 a two-bottle lot of Moet & Chandon 1914 vintage sold for $16,620; and just last year, a tasting experience of 1915 Krug was sold for $116,375.
Like the 1915 Krug auction, the winner of the 1914 Bollinger will win an entire vacation—designed entirely to maximize their enjoyment of the rare bubbly.
First, Champagne Bollinger will open its doors to the winner for a rare tour of the winery and the Galerie 1829 Champagne library. Then the winery will host a private tasting of the 1914 vintage with Bollinger Cellar Master Gilles Descôtes. The winner will stay at the legendary five-star hotel Château Les Crayères, in Reims, and dine with the president of Champagne Bollinger, Jérôme Philipon, at the hotel's ambitious French restaurant, Le Parc.
But the experience isn’t the only thing up for sale. The auction, “A Century of Champagne Bollinger,” will also include six rare lots of Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises ranging from 1988 to 2002—all harvested from the Champagne region’s only vineyard resistant to phylloxera, the insect that destroyed many of the vineyards in France in the mid-19th century. Rounding out the sale is a range of 8-year-old Bollinger R.D. Special Cuvée and nonvintage Special Cuvée, available in a variety of bottle sizes from half-bottle to nebuchadnezzar—perfect if you’re looking for an extra-celebratory bottle of Bolly.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland