An exceptional auction overseen by Acker Merrall & Condit presented a most comprehensive offering of the finest and rarest champagnes dating from as early as the 1800s to 1996. The auction highlighted the personal collection of New York real estate mogul Robert A. Rosania. Amongst the sales of these spectacular champagnes was the first ever public sale of the Dom Pérignon Vintage Rosé 1959 that sold for 84 700 US Dollars. An absolute record price.
Friday, in New York, prices took flight far beyond original estimates with the sale of some of the world’s rarest and finest vintage champagnes, including parcels from Dom Pérignon, Krug, Salon, Louis Roederer, Pol Roger, Bollinger and Pommery. A dream collection for wine collectors, sold by a private one.
The contents of the wine cellar featured some of the most precious Dom Pérignon vintages. This included such lots as bottles of Dom Pérignon Vintage 1928 (1 magnum, estimated 8000-12000 dollars, sold at 12,705 US dollars), magnums from the 1950s onwards, or the vintage 1961 for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding celebration (12 bottles, estimated 14,000-18,000 dollars, sold at 19, 360 dollars).
Yet, the most impressive and expected lot presented for the first time to the public was a never commercially released vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé; the vintage 1959. A turning point as Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon Chef de Cave says : “Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 1959 is a rare, superlative, mythical vintage. Powerful and solar, its light will inspire the creation of Dom Pérignon Rosé forever". These two mythical “rarer than rare” bottles, estimated at 5 000-7 000 US Dollars, were acquired for 84,700 US dollars by a wine investor.
A bit of background : the first bottles of such glamourous quality, considered “the jewel of Dom Pérignon”, were first set on lees in the Dom Pérignon cellars in 1960, with only 306 bottles released. The vintage was later presented in 1971 at the sumptuous celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, and thus served to the select few of monarchy and international VIPs in attendance. A certain pedigree that again was present for such a historic moment as last night’s auction.
Dom Pérignon is already known for attaining remarkable prices, never previously seen in champagne auctions in the past, such as the Dom Pérignon Vintage 1921 from the Doris Duke Collection which sold at an auction at Christie’s New York for 24,675 dollars in 2004. “This exemplifies the extraordinary aging potential of Dom Pérignon, making it a valuable long term investment for the world’s most distinguished champagne collectors” says Daniel Gaujac, Dom Pérignon Executive Vice-President.
New York, April 25, 2008.
At the end of the 17th Century, Dom Pierre Pérignon stated his ambition to create ‘the best wine in the world’. On 29 September 1694, Dom Pierre Pérignon wrote that his mission was to create “the best wine in the world.” He dedicated himself to improving viticulture techniques, perfecting the art blending grapes from different crus, and introduced the gentle and fractional pressing to obtain white wine from black grapes.Ever since, the House of Dom Pérignon has perpetuated this visionary approach instilled by its founder, one that remains a hallmark of true luxury: the constant reinvention of the exceptional.
Under the creative leadership of cellar master Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon is reinvented with every vintage. The miraculous concept of assemblage – the delicate balance between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and the commitment to Vintage are instrumental in the act of creation, revealing the wine's extra soul. Precise and tactile to the point of seamlessness, tense through rhythm and vibrancy, vigorous and fresh yet mature, intense and complex – such is the sensual style of Dom Pérignon: so inviting, yet so mysterious...
The core of the blend are the eight historical Grands Crus, Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize and Le Mesnil, plus the legendary Hautvillers Premier Cru. Dom Perignon also has the unique privilege of being able to select grapes from all 17 Grands Crus in Champagne. giving birth to Dom Perignon's highly intriguing contrast".
“This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!” Orson Welles
The Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 by Nuikki
The atmosphere was keyed up. All the necessary barbed wire fences had been erected around the huge gala venue. Special troops consisting of professional soldiers guarded the area, keeping the curious at bay. A number of private planes carrying diverse heads of state had already landed at the nearby Shiraz airport, and many more were on their way. A 200-million-dollar party was just beginning. Surrounded by steel spikes, in the depths of a huge cluster of marquees, 306 bottles of the first-ever vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne impatiently awaited the royal gourmands.
The 2,500-year anniversary of the Persian Empire was one of the most flamboyant society events of the twentieth century. Planning of the event had begun in the late 1950s, and it climaxed in a gala dinner held on 14 August 1971. The light-coloured leather seats of 250 red Mercedes-Benz limousines carried 600 guests of honour, including royals and heads of state, to a huge serpentine table, where they would enjoy the world’s most lavish dinner.
The dinner was made and served by the world-renowned Parisian establishment Maxim’s, which was forced to close down its restaurant in Paris for several weeks due to the festivities.
For almost six months the Imperial Iranian Air Force made repeated sorties between Shiraz and Paris, flying goods which were then trucked carefully in army lorries to Persepolis. Each month, supplies were driven down the desert highway to deliver building materials for the Jansen-designed air-conditioned tents, Italian drapes and curtains, Baccarat crystal, Limoges china with the Pahlavi coat of arms, Porthault linens, an exclusive Robert Havilland cup-and-saucer service and 5,000 bottles of wine (including a 1945 Château Lafite Rothschild).
The event was officially opened with a toast of Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 champagne.
The dinner started off with quails’ eggs filled with caviar from the Caspian Sea. The host, the Shah of Iran, was actually allergic to caviar and had to settle for an artichoke dish. Next came a mousse of crayfish tails, which was nicely complemented by a Château Haut-Brion Blanc from 1964.
The celebrated 1945 vintage of Château Lafite Rothschild added some elegance and a dash of soft tannins to the third course of roast saddle of lamb with truffles. Before the main course, the guests’ taste buds were refreshed by a champagne sorbet and a taste of the Moët & Chandon vintage champagne from 1911, created during the Champagne Riots. The main course was Iran’s ancient national symbol, peacock, stuffed with foie gras. The 50 roast birds decorated with peacock tail feathers were a stunning sight on the dinner table. The Comte de Vogué Musigny from 1945, a soft Pinot Noir, was chosen to contribute a suitable depth and structure to the meal. The Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne from 1959 was also chosen to accompany the dessert of glazed Oporto ring of fresh figs with cream and raspberry champagne sherbet.
The six hundred guests dined for over five and a half hours, making this the longest and most lavish official banquet in modern history, as recorded in successive editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. In the words of Orson Welles, “This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!”
1959 was the first vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé. The first bottles of such glamorous quality, considered the “jewel of Dom Pérignon”, were first set on lees in the Dom Pérignon cellars in 1960, with only 306 bottles released. The vintage was only presented at the celebration of the Persian Empire; it was never commercially released. As Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave, says, it was a turning point: “Dom Pérignon Rosé vintage 1959 is a rare, superlative, mythical vintage. Powerful and solar, its light will inspire the creation of Dom Pérignon Rosé forever.” Geoffroy also told us that there are only a few bottles left in the Dom Pérignon cellars. “Looking back, I think of the creator of the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 – René Philipponnat. I contemplate what has become of Dom Pérignon’s legacy: his ambition to pioneer rosé wines at a new level; the start of the Dom Pérignon Rosé adventure that generated the other expression of Dom Pérignon. Looking forward, it is my duty to live up to this heritage and keep pushing and taking risks to make an ever more provocative rosé.”
The Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 vintage reached a record price of USD 84,700 at a historic rare champagne auction in New York, overseen by Acker Merrall & Condit. In this, their first ever public sale, the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 “rarer than rare” bottles were estimated at USD 5,000–7,000, but were acquired for the astronomical price by a wine investor.