Owner Donates Proceeds
To City Harvest Charity
Rare vintages of leading wines from the Castello Banfi estate of Montalcino, Tuscany commanded prices well above pre-auction estimates at a recent “Finest and Rarest Wine Auction” in New York. The sale, conducted jointly by the international auction house Sotheby’s and New York wine retailer Sherry-Lehmann, was billed as the most extensive offering of Italian wines ever sold at auction in the US.
Three vintages of Poggio all’Oro, Castello Banfi’s single-vineyard reserve of Brunello di Montalcino, exceeded combined pre-auction estimates by nearly double. A six-bottle case each of the 1985 and 1988, estimated to sell for $500 a piece, closed at $1,265 and $805 respectively, while the 1990, estimated to sell for $700, received a high bid of $1,380. By comparison, the most recently released vintage of Poggio all’Oro, 1993, retails for approximately $700 per 6-bottle case.
A six-bottle case of vintage 1990 SummuS, a “super Tuscan” proprietary blend of Brunello, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, sold for $546, compared to its pre-sale estimate of $350 and the average $245 retail for the current release 1995.
The Sotheby’s auction featured 500 lots of Italian wines in addition to over 2,750 wine lots from France and California. The special millennium event earned a record-breaking $5.8 million in sales. The Castello Banfi wines were from the private cellars of the Mariani family, American proprietors of the estate; they donated their net proceeds, $3,350, to City Harvest, a charity dedicated to feeding the hungry in New York City.
Castello Banfi, a 7,100-acre estate in Southern Tuscany, has been named Italy’s best producer for the past five consecutive years at that country’s annual VinItaly wine fair and competition, and earlier this year was awarded a “Wine Oscar” by the Association of Italian Sommeliers as “Best Italian Wine Estate.”