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Haut-Brion With Petrus to Boost Tycoon Harmsworth’s Sale

Chateau Haut-Brion 1961
A case of Chateau Haut-Brion 1961, estimated to fetch as much as 20,000 pounds ($31,000). It is among leading Bordeaux wines listed in a Sotheby's London sale from the cellar of the late Vere Harmsworth, former chairman of Associated Newspapers, and his wife. Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A case of Chateau Haut-Brion 1961 and 12 bottles of Petrus ’70 are among leading Bordeaux listed in a Sotheby's London sale of wines, some of which come from the cellar of the late Vere Harmsworth, former chairman of Associated Newspapers, and his wife.

The Haut-Brion ’61 is estimated by Sotheby’s to fetch as much as 20,000 pounds ($31,000) and the case of Petrus ’70 is priced to sell for as much as 14,000 pounds, the auction house said in a statement.

The sale on Sept. 18 comes as the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index of top Bordeaux edged higher in August after four straight months of declines, leaving the benchmark up 4 percent this year. Gains in the second half of the month outweighed a drop in the first two weeks, as trading picked up after a summer lull.

“The market is still up,” said Chris Smith, investment manager at The Wine Investment Fund in London. As U.K. stocks fell and the pound strengthened, “the fact that the index held steady against that background is actually quite encouraging.” The fund, invested in Bordeaux, manages $50 million.

Three magnums of Haut-Brion’s 1989 vintage are priced to fetch as much as 10,000 pounds, while a case of neighboring Chateau La Mission-Haut-Brion from the same year is estimated to fetch as much as 7,500 pounds.

Post-War Era

Both the 1961 and 1989 vintages are listed by Michael Broadbent, founder of Christie’s International Plc’s wine department, as among the top 15 years of the last century in his book ‘Vintage Wine,’ published in 2007.

The two vintages are also landmarks for Chateau Haut-Brion, both awarded a perfect 100 points by U.S. wine critic Robert Parker on his scoring system and ranking them along with the 1945, 2009 and 2010 wines among the estate’s top five of the post-Second World War era.

Haut-Brion is one of the five left-bank first growths in Bordeaux’s 1855 classification. The estate, which has been making wine for more than 400 years, was bought in 1935 by U.S. financier Clarence Dillon and is still owned by his descendants.

Haut-Brion’s 1989 is now its most expensive wine of the past half-century, according to merchant prices compiled by Liv-ex, and among its four highest-priced of the past 60 years along with its 1955, 1959 and 1961.

One case of the 1989 sold for 10,925 pounds at a Christie’s International Plc auction in London on Feb. 21 while another fetched 10,810 pounds at a Sotheby’s U.K. sale the same month.

Top Burgundies in the sale include 12 bottles of Clos de Vougeot 1988 with an upper estimate of 7,000 pounds.

Harmsworth, who became Viscount Rothermere after his father’s death, controlled the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and London Evening Standard in the 1980s.

Here is a list of global wine auctions scheduled so far this year. Dates may be subject to revision, and links are to auction house sale catalogs and websites.


Sept. 7:         Acker Merrall & Condit, New York
Sept. 7:         Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
Sept. 7:         Zachys, Hong Kong
Sept. 12:        Christie’s, London
Sept. 12:        Bonhams, London
Sept. 13/14:     Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong
Sept. 14:        Bonhams, San Francisco
Sept. 18:        Sotheby’s, London
Sept. 20/21:     Sotheby’s, New York
Sept. 19/20:     Zachys, New York
Sept. 21:        Hart Davis Hart, Chicago
Sept. 26:        Christie’s, Shanghai


Oct. 4/5:        Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
Oct. 5:          Acker Merrall & Condit, New York
Oct. 11:         Christie’s, New York
Oct. 23:         Sotheby’s, London
Oct. 24:         Bonhams, London
Oct. 24:         Christie’s, London
Oct. 25/26:      Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong
Oct. 26:         Hart Davis Hart, Chicago


Nov. 7/8:        Christie’s, London
Nov. 13:         Christie’s, Geneva
Nov. 13:         Sotheby’s, London
Nov. 21:         Acker Merrall & Condit, New York
Nov. 21:         Bonhams, Hong Kong
Nov. 23          Christie’s, Hong Kong
Nov. 23:         Bonhams, San Francisco


Dec. 7:          Christie’s, New York
Dec. 7:          Hart Davis Hart, Chicago
Dec. 11:         Sotheby’s, London
Dec. 12:         Bonhams, London
Dec. 12/13:      Christie’s, London
Dec. 13/14       Acker Merrall & Condit, Hong Kong
Dec. 18:         Acker Merrall & Condit, New York

Muse highlights include New York and London weekend guides; Lewis Lapham on history; Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater; and Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Guy Collins in London on

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

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