RichardFlack wrote: ↑
July 1st, 2020, 7:44 am
Colour me naive, but wouldn’t you think that these days Sotheby’s would be extra careful? You can just imagine the cross examination...
“Did you get documentation on the provenance?”
“Why not?” / “where is it and why wasn’t it published”?
The biggest problems with the items in the Sotheby's catalog are: (1) the photography in the catalog available in PDF format is awful. On many bottles the resolution is so bad you can't even read details on the labels. That makes any assessment of the authenticity of the bottle absolutely impossible. I have been in contact with Sotheby's who explain that while their physical catalogs have high resolution images, to accommodate bandwith isssues with smart phones they are no longer putting high resolution photographs in their PDF catalogs available on line. Personally, I think that is a a HUGE mistake. Nobody in their right mind is going to drop several thousand dollars on a bottle based on a very low resolution image viewed on their smart phone; and (2) the photographer and/or the idiot who put the catalog together really shifted the color balance substantially and messed up the colors throughout the catalog (e.g. DRC and Roumier have never had brown bottles). The photos are so bad in the catalog and the color is so distorted (e.g. every green AOC line on the DRC bottles is so smeared with green ink that it automatically looks like a counterfeit.) There is simply no way to assess the authenticity of many of the bottles in this Sotheby's auction based on anything you can see in the PDF catalog. However, as I have said before, I have a great deal of trust in Jamie Ritchie and the Sotheby's authentication process.
The 1942 La Tache that Bill Nanson and others have questioned appears to come from the 1988 re-release by Leroy. Sotheby's sent me a high resolution image and they match what I have for the European version of the 1988 re-release.
Sotheby's said that, in their experience, most of the DRC Jeros and Methuselahs, which do have wax capsules, suffer from being chipped and cracked in the late 1990s vintages, like the ones shown in the catalog. If you look at the other big glass bottles in the catalog, most have intact wax capsules.
With respect to the Clark Riedel import/retail stickers, I am informed by Sotheby's that the consignor was one of a group of several local wine collectors who used Clark Riedel, an importer and retailer located in Del Mar California (very close to San Diego) to import wines for them, including wines that the consignor bought directly from the Domaines.
MORE INFORMATION (JULY 5, 2020):
Sotheby's was kind enough to send me the high resolution proof of the catalog for me to review. I did that. The photos were incredibly sharp and perfect for my purposes. I found no issues with authenticity as to any of the DRC items in the catalog. Yes, there are 6 liters of 1998 and 1999 DRC with chipped wax capsules but I found the explanation reasonable under the circumstances. The 1942 DRC La Tache matched my photo exemplars from the 1988 re-release. The Roumier, Rousseau and Jayer wines all looked as expected (except for the 1978 Swiss-bottled Chambolle Amoureuses that I'm completely unfamiliar with.)
The only lots that I had questions about were white burgundies from the middle to the end of the catalog. Initially, I was somewhat troubled by the 6 liter bottle of 1989 Ramonet Montrachet (Lot 8097). The 6 liter bottle is projected to sell for more than $40,000 US dollars. However, after communicating with Sotheby's wine director Jamie Ritchie, it seems appropriate to defer to their judgment that the wine is appropriate for sale at auction.
Lot 8097 - Click on this photo to to enlarge it
The notable discrepancy here is that the label on the 6 liter bottle is a magnum label and someone has crudely handwritten in black ink "600" over the 150 cl on the printed label. Sotheby's believes that this was done by Ramonet because very few 6 liters were produced and that it was common practice at the time to overwrite the quantity rather than print larger labels with the appropriate quantity. My colleague Geoff Troy reported overnight that he has seen 6 liters and 9 liters from Ramonet from other vintages. Sotheby's also pointed out that the bronze colored design on the neck labels on the Don Stott bottles was actually a result of the lighting and photography used for the photographs of the Don Stott collection rather than the actual silver color which appeared there and which appears on the 6 liter bottle. So, under the circumstances, while it is appropriate to note the magnum label and the handwritten modification, I think it is appropriate here to defer to Sotheby's usual excellent judgment on authenticity.
Lot 8797 (2000 Coche Corton). The photo in the catalog shows two bottles of 2000 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne sitting side by side but they have completely different main labels and neck labels.
Lot 8797 - Click on this photo to enlarge it
The text on the labels is different and the numerals and the colors on the design on the neck label are notably different. As I stated previously, the bottle on the left in the photo in the catalog matches the US version sold by Kermit Lynch. It contains some additional text that wasn't on the label on the right and the alcohol percentage and liquid quantity are displayed differently. Sotheby's explains that the bottle on the right is believed to be the version sold in Europe, and states that other bottles of the 2000 Coche Corton originating from Europe and offered and sold by Sotheby's also did not include bottle numbers for the 2000 vintage. While the differing labels are notable, again it appears appropriate to defer to Sotheby's judgment call on this one.