The Extraordinary Private Cellar of Doris Duke

Bottles of the first ever Vintage (1921) of Dom Pérignon, 1929 Château d’Yquem, 1934 Romanée Conti (pictured), all these and more from the cellers of Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress that made her home several miles up the road in Somerville on a 2,700 acre estate. The bottles will be auctioned off at Christies in NYC to benefit the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation on June 2nd.

The private cellar of Doris Duke is without question one of the most superlative collections of Fine and Rare Wines to come to market in the nearly forty years of dedicated Fine Wine auctions at Christie’s. This sale ranks as the most unique offering of pre-war vintages ever sold in North America; both in its impeccable provenance and its depth of some of the best wines of the twentieth century.

The cellar highlights a period of wine-making and vintages whose like will never be repeated and is a true “time capsule” of bottlings spanning 1904 to 1934 and encompassing the great châteaux and domaines of France from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne as well as ports and madeiras.

The quantities here speak to an era of grand entertaining long-since passed, the vintages to yields and wine-making techniques changed by technological advancement and in one case to a vineyard now included in another by the appelation controlée laws.

Not only are the wines themselves remarkable, but the quality of the archival material associated with them is equally astonishing. No collection of this era can have been so meticulously catalogued by its owners, so that today’s collector can be assured of the provenance. Researching this collection has brought this cellar to life; tracing the wine’s journey from initial invoices (in old French francs) and shipping dockets, through cellar inventories, entertaining records and through to NY Wines Christie’s recent cataloguing and inspection.

Christie’s Lot Description

Oh yeah, they’re also hawking a 20-carat Tiffany diamond ring too.

Busy Saturday (part II)


So we moved on from Sean’s birthday party with it’s clown/magician and pinata to a celebration for Theo’s Christening which featured the beautiful spread you see on the right. Small talk centered around the usual suburban topics, schools, property taxes, those in the neighborhood that totally bug you with their attitude of “competitive hapiness,” beating you over the head with how wonderful their life is while you node, smile, and try not to show them that you’re checking your watch.


The last engagement of the day was a birthday party for Claire, one of our neighbors. We arrived just in time to watch the 130th running of the Kentucky Derby where we cheered on Smarty Jones to a win. What made things especially sweet is that someone in the room had worked for Roy Chapman’s auto dealership and said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. I’m told that the horse was nearly put down awhile back when he cracked his skull on the starting gate resisting a start. They stuck with him though and even though he’s not from a thoroughbreds pedigree, the horse made a startling recovery and has now gone on to be the first unbeaten winner of the “Run for the Roses” since Seattle Slew in 1977.

After the race, we all enjoyed sipping cool ones to wash down some local pizza smothered in some smokin’ picante sauce that Dave brought back from a recent trip to the Carribean while everyone told stories about how much trouble they got in when they were kids.

Living in New England

Something about living in the Northeast, turns your blood thicker or something. Driving around it seemed so warm, I rolled the window down and enjoyed the fresh air. Turned the radio up, some fast picking Bluegrass, I could smell Spring in the air. The sun was setting, the sky looked glorious, then the DJ came on and said that it was in the 40’s – brrr, roll the window back up!

It’s still not over

Just when I thought we were past this most recent storm. . .

Wet snow will overspread the area from the southwest by late evening. It will mix with or start as rain at the onset in southeastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey. The snow will become heavy at times, mainly between the hours of midnight and 4 am Friday. Snowfall rates of an inch or two per hour are very possible during this time. A rumble or two of thunder cannot be ruled out during the heavier snow.

Total snow accumulations will range as follows, 4 to as much as 7 inches north of Interstate 80, with 5 to 8 inches south of Interstate 80 to a Wilmington Delaware to Barnegat Inlet New Jersey line, including the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Just south of the Wilmington to Barnegat Inlet line, 6 inches is expected then quickly ranging down to 2 inches in the southern portions of Cecil County Maryland and New Castle County Delaware.


Pennington is South of Interstate 80. . . I can’t wait for Spring!

Another Snow Day

Just when you thought it was time for Spring. . .look what I woke up to this morning!

Mr. Broemel visits his old house

Last Fall we had a visit from an old man and his daughter. The daughter told us that her father grew up in our house and while paying a visit to Pennington (they now live in New Mexico) for his high school reunion, he wanted to stop by and see the old house. Norman Broemel was the first person to live in our house right after it was built in the 20’s and if the name sounds familiar to Pennington residents, I would hazard a guess that Broemel Place was named after ol’ Norman and his brother who both went off to war in the 40’s. Norman served and earned a Purple Heart in Burma (and if you look closely, you can see that he lost an arm), his brother was shot down in Panama.Here’s a photo they took of Mr. Broemel with all of us on the stairs that his daughter sent to us just last month. It’s fun to live in a house with history.


You know you live in an affluent neighborhood when you see reward amounts like this. The sign is on the way to work and has been the topic of quite a few conversations. For $2,500, you’d think there’d be hoards of people in the woods looking out for the lost feline. Some have thought that it’d be pretty easy to find a passing resemblance of this cat and try and pass it off as the lost kitty – others thought for that amount, you could hire someone to doctor one up, something like kitty plastic surgery. Heck, at that price, it’s worth me taking a week off work and dedicating myself to the search – I’m surprised more corporate types aren’t plying the woods in their overcoats and wingtips shouting “kitty! kitty!”Others wondered why the cat was worth that much of award – you’d think the owner would just post something like “Handsome Reward Awaits” rather than leaning out there with such a specific amount. Does it really take 2.5 G’s to get someone’s attention around here?

Me? I think the cat must have swallowed something of considerable value such as an engagement ring where the reward amount seems inconsequential compared to the emotional or perhaps matrimonial devastation the owner thinks awaits. Perhaps the husband is away on a business trip and while the wife was taking a lengthy bath the spiteful kitten swallowed the ring and bolted. I can see a jealous cat doing that.


We got snowed in last weekend with over ten inches. Tyler and I jumped into a neighbor’s 4×4 and hitched a ride up to Belle Mountain, the local sledding hill. We trudged up to the top and faced into the freezing wind to a magnificent view of the entire Hopewell Valley covered in snow. After a brief pause to tuck our legs into the sled and a hearty push from a friendly bystander, we were off. Before I knew it we were hurtling downwards, wonderfully out of control but loving every minute of it. We both were laughing as we tried to aim edge towards a jump but tipped over in the process and wiped out another pair that was walking up from thier run.

We spend an hour or two perfecting our technique and eventually, just as the sun was beginning to pinken, hit that jump and caught some air landing on our butts with a thump and a triumphant cheer. As we headed home that evening, I caught a glimpse of the full moon over a farm field, low in the sky, with a chevron of geese flying South for the Winter.

A perfect afternoon with my son and a newfound appreciation of the joy of simple play.