Cheval Blanc sets world record at Christie's wine sale

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GENEVA (Reuters Life!) - An imperial-size bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947, a rare Bordeaux find discovered in the secret cellar of a great wine collector, sold for $304,375 on Tuesday -- a world record for a single bottle at auction, Christie’s said.

Equivalent to eight standard bottles of wine (6 liters), and snapped up by an anonymous collector, it was the star lot at a sale of 1,000 items, doubling the low end of its pre-sale estimate.

But gulp for gulp, it did not match the HK$1.8 million ($232,000) per standard bottle achieved by a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild vintage 1869 sold last month by rival Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, a spokesman said.

“This wine is undoubtedly one of the greatest Bordeaux of all times, not only because of its rare quality but also due to its extensive life span, as it could still be kept and enjoyed 50 years from now with no problem at all,” Christie’s wine specialist Michael Ganne said before the sale.

It took Christie’s two years to convince the owner to consign the 1947 Cheval Blanc imperial, jeroboam, Marie-Jeanne and magnum bottles for sale, once market conditions returned to their current strength, according to the auction house.

Christie’s auction, which had been estimated to net a total of $3.5 million, included a collection of bottles from Domaine de la Romanee Conti, a renowned Burgundy.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Paul Casciato