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Sotheby’s (10 per cent buyer’s premium) March 17 sale of Fine and Rare Wines in London, for example, notched up a handy £500,000 with just under 96 per cent of the 910 lots finding buyers.

Rather unusually, it was port rather than bordeaux which took the top price here when £11,000 was paid by European buyer for a monster double nebuchadnezzar (30-litre) bottle of Taylor ’63, one of the most highly rated of all recent port vintages.

Weighing 120lb and standing 2ft 10in (86cm) high, this bottle had originally been the property of the Hasslacher family who for more than 25 years held the exclusive agency for Taylor’s Port in Britain. It had last appeared on the market in December 1995 at Christie’s, where it sold to the current vendors for £9000. A profit of £2000 (minus two lots of auctioneers’ fees) over three and a quarter years shows that vintage port is not one of the world’s more speculative markets.

However, for sheer curiosity value, nothing at this Sotheby’s sale could beat a bottle of 1653 – yes, 1653 – Rüdesheimer Rosewein which quadrupled its lower estimate to take £2100.

Thought to have been bottled in the 1950s, this ancient, but still perfectly consumable wine had been drawn from an enormous mother cask in the famous Ratskeller (Town Hall cellar) of Bremen. At 340-plus years, this must surely be the oldest drinkable wine that has ever appeared at auction (though it should also been borne in mind that over the last 200 years the Bremen cask has been periodically topped up with younger Rüdesheimer to compensate for the tiny amounts released for bottling).

According to Sotheby’s Michael Egan, the wine has a Auslese-like medium sweetness and tastes like “fine madeira without the alcohol”.

Main historical curiosity at Christie’s (10 per cent buyer’s premium) March 4 sale of Claret and Fine Wines was a half-full bottle of mid-18th century Imperial Tokay which sold for £380. Contained in a rare sealed “mallet”-shaped bottle bearing the seal of the Royal Saxon wine cellar, this had been estimated at £200-300.

King Street’s most expensive wines proved to be the now familiar millennial-friendly combination of top-name post-war clarets by the case and historic individual bottles from around 1900.

True to form, the sale was topped by a case of Château Cheval-Blanc’s 1982 vintage at £3000, followed by a single bottle of Lafite-Rothschild 1900 at £2900.

Total for the sale was £355,000 from 551 lots of which just seven were left unsold.