Auctions: A Taste of Czardonnay

A Taste of Czardonnay

Czar Nicholas II and his family died in a Bolshevik fusillade in 1918, but their Crimean wine cellar and attendant vineyards lived on. In 1922 Stalin added to the former imperial wine collection by rounding up bottles from other czarist palaces. Last week many of those rare dessert wines finally fell into capitalist hands. On Sotheby's London auction floor, Western wine dealers ponied up $1,074,544 for 13,000 bottles of the Romanovs' best.

The wines date from the 1830s to 1945, and 62 bottles still display a twin- headed-eagle seal. A Swiss buyer paid a record $12,705 for three bottles of 1891...

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