Japan Wine

Rare 1923 DRC Romanée Conti to go under hammer at Kaigai auction

An extremely rare 1923 DRC Romanée Conti in the legendary Vandermeulen bottling will go under the hammer at Kaigai's upcoming auction in October.

A bottle of extremely rare Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from 1923 vintage will go under the hammer at Japanese auction house Kaigai’s upcoming online auction in October.

The DRC Romanée Conti from “an impeccable Japanese collector” comes in the legendary Vandermeulen bottling by the Belgian wine company of the same name, the auction house says.

Over the years, the Vandermeulen bottlings achieved cult status among collectors as the Belgium-based wine company once bottled some of the most exceptional vintages from the world’s top estates including Petrus, d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc.

Up till 1950s, wineries would sometimes sell barrels to wine merchants for bottling before estate bottling became a common practice.

It’s said that DRC sold at least two wines in barrels to Vandermeulen namely 1923 and 1929, though DRC has no written records. However, according to wine authentication expert, Michael Egen, he recalled seeing the wines in Belgian collections and Sotheby’s auctioned a pair of the wines in 1999 in London.

According to Kaigai, during its routine checks with the consignor of the wine, this particular bottle was believed to be purchased over 30 years ago from a well-known art and wine collector from Paris – who, as the consignor understood it, bought the bottle from Vandermeulen directly.

“The consignor had purchased a number of bottles at this time including other Vandermeulen bottles (which included both the 1923 and the 1929 Romanee Conti). The consignor opened and consumed the 1929 almost 15 years ago and believed that the condition and wine were consistent of that of what a 1929 RC from VdM should appear as,” the auction house explained on the tracebility of the wine.

“The consignor is also one of the most prominent wine collectors in Japan and would only trust sourcing from impeccable sources, especially for such wines,” Kaigai added following questions raised including from American lawyer Don Conwell on the authenticity of 1923 Vandermeulen DRC.  

The bottle judging from the image has a neck fill at shoulder level, given the age of the wine and carries an estimate of ¥800,000- ¥1,000,000 (US$7,600-US$9,500).

Other Burgundy highlights from the upcoming auction scheduled for October 5-12 include a mini-vertical of Roumier Bonnes Mares (1986, 1989, 2010 and 2012) and numerous Rene Engel Grand Cru bottles (Grand Echezeaux, Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux) and a 1969 DRC Romanée Conti from the same Japanese collector.

In addition, mature bottles like 1977 Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos-de-Beze, 1966 Leroy Musigny, 1982 Mouton-Rothschild, 1978 Chave Hermitage, and 1976 Roumier Morey-St.-Denis Clos de la Bussiere will also be on offer at the online auction from October 5 to 12.

According to the auction house, a total of 179 lots will be offered to wine collectors and connoisseurs worldwide.

Registration is now open for bidding.

*The article is updated on October 6 to add in comments from Kaigai on the origin and traceability of the 1923 DRC.

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