Something to do in a Pandemic? Wines & Spirits

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Lots - 369-373 Yquem 1921, 1923, 1924 estimate of £7,500 to £10,000.
Lots - 369-373 Yquem 1921, 1923, 1924 estimate of £7,500 to £10,000.

A pandemic appears to be under way or at least we are waiting for the United Nation’s World Health Organisation and more local authorities to call the day when it is recognised as one.

Meanwhile what to do? Panic buying of this or that and toilet paper seems the most popular will get rather mundane; if you have wealth and the leisure what to do? One might usefully spend the new found leisure time as you ‘self isolate’ or put some ‘social distance’ between yourself and your friends and neighbours with a new hobby or leisure pursuit. A hobby that is at once entertaining, educational and push back at the potential boredom that isolation may occasion.

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May I propose getting to know  rare wines and brandies and whiskies? On March 18, 2020 Sotheby’s the auctioneers will hold a sale of Fine Wines and Spirits in London. Plenty of time to get yourself organised to make bids over the telephone and arrange for deliveries to your villa.

What might tempt you? To pick up the telephone or open the laptop and begin your voyage into a distracting and entertaining new diversion. Perhaps the opportunity to acquire and taste wines from the collection of Earl Spencer.

From Althorp House the private residence of Earl Spencer, comes a spectacular array of Bordeaux stretching from the 1990s all the way back to 1945, spot lit by a case of the stupendous Haut Brion 1989, together with first rate Port and a superb selection of Cognac, in a wide variety of formats.


The bulk of this collection was acquired by the current Earl Spencer’s father and has never moved from the warren of interconnected cellars under Althorp House. Bidding notes: Haut Brion 1989, 12 bottles, est  £12,000-16,000 (Lot 714), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1931, six bottles, est  £6,000-10,000 (Lot 733), Taylor 1955, three bottles, est  £600-800 (Lot 734).

Or perhaps Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, may further inspire as he outlines the  harder highlights of the sale. “We are delighted to present such a strong selection of bottles consigned directly from producers as well as from private collections to begin our 2020 sales in London. Among the most exciting bottles in this sale are the Gordon & MacPhail Private Decanters, all of which are numbered 1 of their respective outturn. This is the first time that any number 1 decanter from G&M has been offered for sale rather than kept within the Urquhart Family archives. Offering these alongside such iconic bottles as Karuizawa 52-year- old from Cask #5627 and so many Macallan in Lalique decanters showcases the strength of current demand for the very best in the world of whisky.”


There is much to discover in the world of wines and spirits that is diverting as an investor, not drinking the purchases, or as a wine or whisky buff and drinking through the purchases you make. Happy hours examining the Catalogue which may be acquired from Sotheby’s to browsing round the vineyards and distilleries spread across the globe. [www.sothebys.com] A diversion against tedium and certainly great fun too.

Nick Horne, London, England




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