Connoisseurs of the finest wine will find it difficult to resist the opportunity to acquire a great vintage that has gone on sale. The precious bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 is safe in the keeping of distinguished wine merchant Stuart George, founder and managing director of Vins Extraordinaires, opposite Claridge’s hotel in the heart of Mayfair, London. Sitting in the elegant drawing room of the 1864 town house where he regularly hosts wine tastings, George shared some of the rich history of the exceptional vintage that he bought at auction last year. Why your classic car or fine wine is a great alternative investment It came from the cellars of Faringdon, an 18th-century country house in Oxfordshire that was home to an eccentric aristocrat famed for his lavish entertaining. Lord Berners, fictionalised as Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford’s novel T he Pursuit of Love , had a colourful social circle including Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky, Salvador Dalí and H.G. Wells. He once held a tea party for a friend with the guest of honour being her horse; there are photographs to record this unlikely scene and it all looks highly civilised, with the horse obligingly sipping tea from a saucer. The heady days of the eccentric baron are long gone but the world got a glimpse of his charmed life and that of his partner and subsequent owner of Faringdon, Robert Heber-Percy, when the house was sold and its contents put up for auction last spring. George was browsing through the sale catalogue when he came across the extraordinary wine that he recognised as being exceptional. After some tense and competitive bidding, he secured the prize, which he values at £10,000 (US$12,884). George places the bottle gently on the polished table and points out some key features. The bottle of Scotch whisky Christie’s sold in 2018 for US$1.5 million “You can see the Rothschild’s arrow logo on the top of the capsule and the kind of slight peeling on the label you would expect for a bottle that has been in a damp cellar for 70 years,” he said. “The volume in the bottle is impressive – little has been lost to the natural process of evaporation.” He said he would expect the taste of the wine to be ‘outstanding’ with distinctive notes of ginger and cinnamon. “It is famously great with a huge reputation. I understand from people who have had it recently that it is still a fantastic drink”. George, who has been in the wine industry since 1996, has visited 40 countries, including all the great wine regions of the world, and has a special affection for Hong Kong. “I have always loved it – a bustling, busy city with an increasingly large wine scene,” he said. “In 2008 import taxes on wine were abolished completely and the market really exploded then. It really spurred Hong Kong to become a significant trading area for wine.” The ultimate wine bucket list for oenophiles seeking unusual wineries “For a few years it was the centre of global fine wine auctions. There’s a lot of money in Hong Kong and plenty of people with an appreciation for the good things in life including watches, cars, art and fine wine,” he said. As a holder of the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma in wine and spirits and an award-winning wine writer who has tasted vintages back to 1780, George’s expertise as a wine show judge is in great demand. Whoever buys the Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 is likely to personally meet George as he would prefer to deliver the exceptional wine rather than entrust it to a courier. The buyer will become part of the story of a great vintage.