AN EXTRAORDINARY collection of wine which was discovered hidden in a cave is expected to fetch £1m when it goes under the hammer.
The unnamed drinks aficionado spent years buying exclusive wine from vineyards in Bordeaux.
But instead of storing them in the wine cellar of a grand country home, they stashed the alcohol in a top secret cave in Northern Europe.
Sotheby’s wine expert James Reed was given explicit instructions, as well as a map, indicating where he would find the booze.
When Mr Reed located the hidden lair he discovered wines varying in value from £90 to £22,000.
He said: ‘One of the joys of being a wine specialist is being admitted to all the different places where clients store their wine.
‘This collection is the first I have ever found in a grotto.’
Mr Reed described the secret lair as being at the foot of a sheer rock face. Once he entered he was confronted with a bare rock cavern with smaller chambers branching off in different directions.
Scattered about were pallets of wine wrapped in plastic, methodically stacked and with the case ends facing outwards to aid identification.
The storage conditions in the cave were cool, with good natural humidity, making it ideal for the health of the wine.
‘To have the opportunity to present such a glorious collection from such great storage and with such strong provenance is undoubtedly a highlight of my 20-year career at Sotheby’s,’ said Mr Reed.
Sotheby’s will be auctioning the single-owner collection on January 24 in London, with the 388 lots expected to sell for approaching £1 million.
Serena Sutcliffe, master of wine and honorary chairman, Sotheby’s Wine, said: ‘This collection puts the greatest vinous gems of France under the spotlight.
‘It is clear that the wines were chosen by someone with remarkable gastronomic and wine knowledge, who had access to the best châteaux in Bordeaux.’