Sothebys’ philanthropist’s cellar in Hong Kong

La Tâche vintages

It’s not every day the highest value single-owner wine sale in Asia comes to town. But mark your diaries. March 31 is such a day.

Sotheby’s will auction 800 Lots estimated at around HK$60 million, or US$7.7 million, comprising a spectacular collection of mature Bordeaux and Burgundy from three decades of collecting.

Not only that, auction goers can combine the pleasures of the grape with a philanthropist’s measure of the share; Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Program, (REAP), which helps underprivileged children in rural China, and is overseen by Scott Rozelle, will be the major beneficiary of the sale from this anonymous Asian collector.

Many of the wines were acquired in the 1980s and early 1990s from sources including Sotheby’s London and established UK wine merchants. A majority from 1988 were purchased ‘en primeur’, and subsequently stored at Trapp’s Cellars in London until 2003, when all were transferred to Octavian Vaults, in Wiltshire.

Among the esteemed libations are Haut Brion 1985 and 1970; Mouton-Rothschild 1986 and 1970; Latour 1982 and 1970; Margaux 1982; Cheval Blanc 1982; Lafite-Rothschild 1986 and Petrus 1985.

Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia has known the collector for more than 20 years and can’t stress enough the sale’s importance. “This is probably the most magnificent wine collection ever to come to auction in Hong Kong,” he says, “and the most valuable sale anywhere else in the world from which the entire net sales proceeds are donated to charity.”

Adam Bilbey, Head of Wine, Sotheby’s Asia, concurs. “I have never seen a collection with such depth of the greatest wines of Bordeaux, nor one of which so many of the wines are still in their original cases, having been sleeping for all these years! The numbers are staggering.”

The collector’s philanthropic interest in China dates back to the early 1990s during a visit to rural areas, and a subsequent meeting with Dr Rozelle, whose innovative projects through REAP bring effective solutions to China’s rural interior, focusing mainly on the improvement of early child education, nutrition and health. Rozelle has the ear of just about every Fortune 100 company CEO, actorvist Leo DiCaprio and philantropreneurs like Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s shoes.

REAP project

“On behalf of our entire Rural Education Action Programme team,” says Rozelle, “I want to express our deepest appreciation to the Philanthropist of the Philanthropist’s Chair. The proceeds of the Wine Auction will be used to design and rollout four new Action Research projects, which are creative and will lead to scientific discoveries. Together, we can change the lives of tens of thousands of young children,” says Rozelle.

To put that in a tangible context: A US$10,000 wine purchase
can support an entire village’s parenting centre for one year. (REAP has partnered with China’s Family Planning Commission and local authorities, designing interactive parenting programmes for caregivers and opening parenting centres across rural China).

A US$2,000 wine purchase supports an entire county’s computer assisted learning (CAL) for a full year; and US$50,000 for an entire prefecture. (Since 2009, REAP has developed CAL software to offer remedial tuition to aid struggling students in rural schools. (REAP plans to roll-out a new programme, reaching one million students by 2020).

Double happiness all around in this cause for combined celebration.

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