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1982 Château Cheval Blanc

Chevalblanc That's not good enough for you? How about Trotanoy 1970, Haut Brion 1982 or Lafite: 1970, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. These are just a few of the wines being offered in an upcoming auction by Hart, Davis and Hart in Chicago. Literally thousands of bottles are being sold and the list, offered in a hard cover book exceeding one hundred pages, offers the very best of Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone, Italy and California. Owner John Hart, who I have known for almost thirty years, is one of the top rare and fine wine professionals in the country and his firm was selected to offer for auction The Fox Cellar, which includes the wines above and seemingly countless others. They will be offered for auction over two days, September 19th and 20th. Included in the event is a sumptuous lunch at Chicago's famous Tru Restaurant, where the auction is held.

President Paul Hart recounts in the auction book his first visit to the cellar as they prepared for the auction. There he saw more than 1,000 bottles of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, 65 cases of Petrus, 95 cases of Château Marqaux, 150 cases of Mouton, 90 cases of Haut-Brion, 120 cases of Latour, 45 cases of Cheval Blanc and 130 cases of Lafite. What most of us can never comprehend is all of this wine is owned by a person. One guy bought all of this and more than we can imagine and built a place to keep it. Even with the thousands of bottles that Hart, Davis and Hart are offering in this auction only a portion of the Fox Cellar is being offered. He is keeping more than he can ever drink and still offering up over one hundred pages of the world's most famous wines for sale.

If you've ever wondered why these wines sell for such stratospheric prices, this cellar is a prime example. All around the planet obsessed collectors amass cellars with far more wine in them than not only they, but their heirs can drink before their bottles turn into a pale reflection of the glorious nectars they once contained. Wines like these are no longer wines, but things to be possessed as a symbol of success and power. That's why they cost what they  do. There is something about the acquisition of 1,440 bottles of Latour or 1,560 bottles of Lafite by an individual that is offensive. Like great art hidden from the public in private collections instead of being shared with all as part of our human patrimony, some things are just too important to all of us too be hoarded away by Scrooge.

Fortunately these gems are being liberated before they fade into feeble old age. I cannot overstate how exceptional many of these wines are and experiencing them at this state of maturity is like seeing the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper for the first time. They are not beverages, but art. Like great art, these bottles are not cheap and the risk in purchasing them is not insignificant. Bottles of 1982 Cheval Blanc can be corked too. In such a situation you need someone to guide you and I can think of no better guide than John Hart and his compatriots at Hart, Davis and Hart. Over the decades, John has devoted himself with passion and rigid ethical standards to bringing wines to his customers in pristine condition. If you're going to spend this kind of money, John is someone to depend on.

Most of us will rarely or ever buy, much less drink such wines, but this is the world that Lafite and Latour live in and why they cost what they do. Even if you're not buying, taking a look at this web site for this auction as it's a real peep show for wine voyeurs. I guess great wine is like pornography, you know it when you see it: and this is it.

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