Real estate investor Robert A Rosania is a slim, lively figure whose Champagne collection has been world-class for several years.
He started his wine collecting in the more popular way, buying Burgundy and Bordeaux in 2000. Fine red wine has a more established worldwide market, and the idea of letting it age is commonly accepted, whilst few do the same with Champagne.
Drinking aged Champagne has typically been thought of as an eccentric British idea, but New Yorker Rosania is at the forefront of those, particularly from America, who have been changing that. He'd been collecting wine for a few years when he tried a pre-WWII Krug.
It was either the 1934 or 1937 vintage. Rosania can't remember which, but he does know it was 'incredible'. He changed course and rapidly built up an astonishing cellar filled with great examples of Pol Roger, Krug and Dom Perignon.
This was relatively affordable. As he noted in a 2008 discussion with British newspaper The Financial Times:
"96 Salon is $300 or $350 a bottle, and 2005 RC [Romanée-Conti] is $8,000 a bottle. Take the greatest champagne against the greatest Burgundy or Bordeaux, and the Champagne is a 10th of the price."
There is a certain flair which goes with Champagne too, however. When opening Champagne - and Rosania doesn't hang back from drinking the best examples - he has a specially designed 'sabre' to open the bottles (as is traditional).
|How to sabre Champagne (not that we recommend it)|
Well-aged Champagne, which can take on caramel and brioche-like flavours, benefits from having fewer fakes on the market than the great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. It's more difficult to produce convincing frauds.
In 2008, Rosania decided to hold a major sale of Champagne - though that was only a minor part of his collection. Acker, Merrill and Condit offered the 1,346 bottles, 303 magnums and 11 jeroboams which included 1966 Krug Blanc de Blancs and 1964 Salon.
Even from the outset, the sale was expected to reach $5m in total, and set a world record price when bottles of 1959 Dom Perignon from his collection sold for $42,350 each.
A new record was set recently by the 'seabed Champagnes' sold by Acker just a few weeks ago. Rosania himself was bidding, but reluctantly backed down in the face of determined opposition from a Singapore restaurant.
Rosania was of course disappointed not to own the bottles, but hardly devastated. "I'll be back." he noted. His rival collectors had better believe it.
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