Auction house Christie’s this spring will offer four wine sales including two live sales and two online auctions, estimated to fetch at least HK$70 million.
To kick off Christie’s Wine & Spirits Department’s spring auctions will be the “Finest and Rarest Wines Featuring Four Stunning Cellars and Library Vintages Direct from Château Léoville Poyferré” on May 24 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. One highlight as its name suggests is a collection of rare back vintages direct from the St Julien château, spanning 1982 to 2020.
Over 50 lots of Château Léoville Poyferré will be on offer and in all formats up to Melchoir (18L), according to the auction house.
The ‘three lions’
Château Léoville Poyferré might have made a name for its voluptuous wines, its distinctive label but for centuries, together with Léoville Las Cases and Barton Léoville it was part of the Léoville estate, one of the largest wine estates in Bordeaux at one time with over 200 hectares of vines.
The history of Léoville dates back to 1638 when Maitre Jean de Moytié, a Bordeaux nobleman bought a vineyard planted atop a gravel ridge called Mont-Moytie, but it wasn’t until 1740 that the estate came to assume its now famous Leoville name under owner Alexandre de Gascq.
The wines became so famous in 18th century when former US president and known oenophile Thomas Jefferson visited the region, he lauded the wine and referred to it as ‘Lionville’.
However, during the French Revolution, the estate was seized as a national asset and subsequently split. A quarter of the estate was sold to Hugh Barton in 1826 and became Château Léoville Barton. In 1840 the remaining Leoville estate was divided between Pierre Jean de Las Cases who had the largest share of vineyards which later became Château Léoville Las Cases and his sister Jeanne de Las Cases. Jeanne, passed on her share to her daughter, wife of Baron Jean-Marie Poyferre de Ceres. He then added part of his name Poyferre to the estate, thus becoming what we know today Léoville Poyferre.
Though the vineyards are separated, the buildings are still connected and in fact Léoville Las Cases and Léoville Poyferre share the same parking lot, a rarity in Bordeaux.
Interestingly, all three Léoville are classified as second growth, but Léoville Poyferre as wine journalist Jane Anson described in her seminal book Inside Bordeaux has the “most complex and varied” terroirs of the three.
Although Château Léoville Poyferré is still a Cabernet dominated wine, it has the highest percentage of Merlot in its blend among all three Leovilles and is the only one adding Petit Verdot in its grand vin.
The demi wolf
In 1865, the estate was sold to Lalande and Erlanger after some difficult years. Lalande’s son in law Edouard Lawton took the helm of the estate afterwards and for close to six decades, the Lawton family owned the estate before selling it to the current owner, the Cuvelier family, in 1920. This is why the wine bears the coat of arms of the family, the demi wolf, which is still seen on today’s labels.
For its 2020 vintage, the Cuvelier family celebrated its 100th anniversary of its ownership of the St Julien second growth by releasing a limited edition special bottling. To pay respect to its terroir, contours of the estate’s vineyards are engraved into the glass. A jeroboam of the 2020 vintage will go under hammer at the upcoming May 24 auction.
More details of the auction can be found here.