The dates for the auction of El Bulli's wine cellar, and the much-anticipated full list of wines on offer, have been announced.
Auction house Sotheby's will be responsible for selling the wines from the restaurant – named the best in the world five times over before it closed its doors last year. Split into two parts, the auction will be held on April 3, 2013 in Hong Kong, and on April 26 in New York.
Over the two sales, 8,807 bottles will be on offer with a pre-sale estimate of $1.1–$1.6 million. All proceeds will benefit the El Bulli Foundation, a gastronomic experimental center based in the former restaurant.
El Bulli's Spanish roots are reflected in its cellar, with more than 2,000 bottles of Spanish wine on offer, estimated to be worth between $200,000 and $300,000. Highlights include six different vintages of Vega Sicilia “Unico” from 1987 to 1996; seven different vintages of Vega Sicilia Valbuena from 1995–2002; and 157 bottles of Pingus ranging over nine vintages. Bottles of solera sherry dating back to 1830 are also up for grabs.
As one would expect from a restaurant of El Bulli's caliber, the finest wines of France also feature heavily in the sale. Bidding for 124 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti from a number of its grand cru sites is expected to be fierce, if recent auction results are an indicator.
In addition, a selection of vintages and formats sourced from all five Bordeaux first growths, plus the most prestigious sites in the northern Rhône, will be represented by Guigal's Côte Rôtie La Landonne and La Mouline, and Paul Jaboulet Aîné's Hermitage La Chapelle.
There will also be more affordable lots in the auction for those who want a slice of El Bulli history without prohibitive price tags. Buyers can pick up a case of 2001 Domaine de la Grange des Peres Rouge for $600–$800, magnums of 1999 Domaine Cheze St Joseph Cuvee Prestige de Caroline for less than $100, and a case of 2000 Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve Les Laquets Cahors for $200–$300.
As the sale dates were announced, the restaurant's chef, Ferran Adrià – named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 – said: “The El Bulli Cellar comprises an exceptional and unique collection of wines, that was created and developed by Juli Soler and the El Bulli sommelier team." He confirmed that the sale of the "very special and personal collection" would help fund the launch of the El Bulli Foundation.
Under the leadership of Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler, the cutting-edge gastronomy of El Bulli changed culinary history by reworking ingredients into new forms and combinations. It was feted with awards and topped Restaurant magazine's list of the world’s 50 best restaurants five times, with Adrià frequently named the world’s greatest chef.
Describing the "enchantment" of El Bulli, Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of the international wine department at Sotheby’s, said: “Those of us lucky enough to have dined at El Bulli will never forget the extraordinary sensations laid before us ... one could discover with awe all the secrets of smoke, foam and spheres of liquid involving melon to olives.
As for the wine now being sold by Sotheby's: "The extra ingredient in these meals was the intuitive pairing of these creations with the enticing, and phenomenally interesting, wine list," Sutcliffe said.