Vintage ‘Napoleon’ cognac could make thousands

A bottle of ‘Napoleon’ cognac from the legendary vintage of 1811 is to be sold in a North Yorkshire auction house’s upcoming Fine Wine and Whisky Sale. The bottle of Château Paulet Grandé Fine Champagne ‘Napoleon’ cognac with be offered with an estimate of £20,000-25,000.

1811 was an extraordinary year for winemaking in Western Europe. After a succession of poor vintages in the opening years of the century, perfect growing conditions provided by a long hot summer and warm dry autumn produced a spectacular harvest and reputedly the best vintage of the 19th century.

The almost mythical status of the 1811 vintage was cemented by the appearance of ‘The Great Comet’ or Flaugergues’ Comet. Discovered by Honoré Flaugergues in March of that year, it was visible to astronomers in our skies for 17 months, however, it came closer to Earth and was clearly visible to the naked eye during the harvest in September and October. Comets have long been associated with excellent vintages; for centuries winemakers ascribed perfect conditions to their appearance in the skies. ‘Comet Vintages’ of wine and the cognac’s made from them have long been held in high esteem, none more so than that of 1811.

Furthermore, in 1811 Napoleon visited the town of Cognac, where he was presented with a barrel of the spirit for his newborn son, who would go on to become Napoleon II. Many cognacs made from the 1811 vintage were labelled as ‘Napoleon Cognac’ when they were bottled, often decades later, signifying their legendary status.

The sale at Tennants Auctioneers on September 2 also includes a host of rare bottles of wine and whisky. Highlights of the Wine Section include three magnums of Richebourg Grand Cru 1969 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti, estimated at £3,000-4,000 each; a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grands Eschezeaux Grand Cru 1959 Cote de Nuits, estimated at £2,000-3,000; and a bottle of Château Petrus 1947 1er grand cru Pomerol, bottled in Belgian by Vandermeulen & Co., with an estimate of £1,000-1,500.

Elsewhere in the sale, good bottles of whisky include four bottles of Springbank 29-year-old 1965 Single Malt Scotch Whisky, specially selected for Ian Miller and Jonathan Landau, offered with an estimate of £1,500-2,500 each. Also on offer are bottles of Taylors 1963 Port, 1979 vintage Krug champagne and interesting bottles to collect and drink.