Auction for a 1774 Vin Jaunesamedi, 5 février 2011

Saturday morning is the beginning of the Percée du Vin Jaune. We have the chance to access before the rush. Over two days, sixty thousand people will blow up the record of participation in this great popular festival. We walk in the city of Arbois, decorated naïve and fun.

We are going to look at the bottles that will be on sale and especially the undisputed flagship of this sale, a yellow wine of 1774. This bottle trots in my head obsessively, because for many months, when I was informed of its sale, the desire to acquire it took me. When we walk in the city of Arbois, my wife and my friends make fun of me saying: « there, you are not with us, you are in the middle of the sale ». And it’s true that I only think about it. The information that I have glimpsed is unpleasant: there would be in the running an Englishman, a collector of Singapore, Swiss and me. In my head trots: « I will not have it, I will not have it ». And the limit I set increases every minute since yesterday.

On the catalog, as far as I remember the estimation given was 4,000 € and the expert thought that it would go for 8,000 €. Knowing that I had thought that I would push up to 10,000 €. When entering the room my limit would be a maximum of 20,000 €.

We will take a tour of the cellar where are the wines of the Château d’Arlay, hosted by Alain de Laguiche, and I taste a yellow wine from the Château d’Arlay 2003. This is a very nice surprise, because it is really a joie de vivre and has an intensity greater than my expectation.

We nibble at the various mouth-watering stalls, enjoying the sun warming our bodies and our hearts. At 14:30, it’s time for the sale. There are very few very old wines, maybe 15 on the 314 lots of the sale. From time to time I buy a lot, as if to occupy my stress, because I cannot stop moving on my chair, while beside me, the English competitor has a British phlegm.

We are warned that the TV FR3 will film the sale of the lot at 16:30 sharp. Pretty soon, the British is eliminated from the rise of the auctions. I hear that on the phone it’s a friend, a big Swiss collector of rare wines who is bidding. Instead of being in the room, he moved to the restaurant of Jean-Paul Jeunet which is a few meters from the auction room. He is also filmed by FR3 on the spot, as I will be told later. Exchanges as fast as ping-pong are between the cellarist who represents the Singaporean and Pierre Chevrier, the Swiss on the phone. I listen, a little stunned, and all of a sudden, the Asian is silent. Will I enter the fight, as we explode my limits that had not ceased to climb during my reflections? I raise my little racket bearing the bidder’s number. And we go up. Twice, in this way of the cross, I ask to think. Then, ideas jostle in my head. I want it this 1774 whose bunches ripened during the lifetime of Louis XV! But the reason is to yield, because I know that Pierre is even more stubborn than me.

As we are arrived above 50,000 € I drop my arms, as drunk during this grueling climb, and so sad to have to give up that bottle I’ve been dreaming of for months. Being the only fighter in the room, I am interviewed because the hammer price blew all the estimates of the organizers, the public crowd having made « ho » and « ah » at each threshold crossing.

Pierre arrives, and we kiss. As in a boxing fight, the two fighters kiss to show their esteem. I am happy for Pierre and I am especially happy that whoever has had this bottle will drink it in good conditions.

We congratulate ourselves, we laugh, but it is the fall of the adrenaline after this bitter battle. My excitement will not really fade until late at night.

We have our orders validated, mine including some nuggets of 1937, 1947 and other beautiful vintages. But still drunk after this match that I lost, I am almost groggy.

The organizers open a few flasks of 1973 and 1979 which are sales tails that we share with some regulars. The heart is not there.

We return to our hotel to prepare for a dinner in Salins les Bains at a cellar that will open a few follies.

Note : on a sale organized in 2018, another 1774 Vin Jaune of the same provenance reached more than 80,000 € which makes more than 100,000 € with the sale’s charges.