Auction action, a marvel for Macau, early Napa sparkle and a summer rosé make James Suckling’s news round-up
early to Rise
California’s Napa Valley has made one of its earliest starts to the annual harvest, with sparkling wine producer Mumm picking about 12 tonnes of grapes on July 22. Producers of sparkling wine nearly always harvest earlier than those making table wine to preserve freshness and acidity in the grapes, and to produce wines with a lower alcohol base. Napa in general expects 2015 to be a very early harvest.
In mid-july, Macau’s City of Dreams bought the last of a limited edition of Penfolds Ampoules, large needle-like containers made from glass and titanium that each hold about a bottle of wine. Inside is the 2004 Penfolds Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, a red made from what is said to be the oldest continuously producing cabernet vines in the world, which are located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. I have tasted it once in my life—100 points. The suggested retail price of an Ampoule was US$123,000 at the launch in 2012; only 12 Ampoules were ever produced.
Best of the Rest
Zachys, the international auction house and wine merchant, is holding its final sale of the collection of London barrister Graham Lyons on September 11 at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. He is said to have had one of the UK’S best private wine collections ever and this is the third Zachys auction of his wines—the first took place in 2008 and the second in 2010. The 300 lots to go under the hammer include such rarities as 1926 Château Mouton Rothschild in jeroboam, six magnums of 1976 Domain de la Romanée-conti La Tâche, and 12 bottles of 1926 Château Cheval Blanc.