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March 20, 2013

Sotheby’s Allows You to Get a Piece of El Bulli April 3 and April 26

El Bulli’s Celebrated Wine Cellar and Various Culinary Accoutrements are up for Auction in Hong Kong and NYC.

By Nancy Staab

The world’s most famous restaurant may have closed its doors in 2012, but you can still snag a piece of culinary history when the Michelin 3-star restaurant’s stellar wine cellar goes up for auction in April, along with sundry kitchen items like custom platters for chef Ferran Adria’s famed liquid olives. Rumor has it that the Catalan eatery will be immortalized in film as well.

A dish from El Bulli, Ferran Adriá, Romanée-Conti from El Bulli's Wine Cellar A dish from El Bulli, Ferran Adriá, Romanée-Conti from El Bulli's Wine Cellar

Not all of us were lucky enough to dine on the magical molecular gastronomy of Ferran Adriá at his flagship restaurant el Bulli. The remote Costa Brava restaurant that precariously hugs the base of cliffs in a small resort town, and is helmed by a former Spanish Navy chef, had become the most idolized restaurant in the world. It accrued three Michelin stars, countless “best restaurant in the world” awards, two million reservations requests a year, and will soon be memorialized in a movie based on Lisa Abend’s book The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adriás’s el Bulli.  

El Bulli's famed spherical, liquid olives El Bulli's famed spherical, liquid olives

As the father of molecular gastronomy, Adria’s edible creations were nothing short of magic—his golden quail’s egg yolk cradled in a nest spun golden sugar was as coveted by foodies as collectors would prize a Fabergé egg.  Other culinary marvels included “tapioca” Iberian ham pearls, frozen Parmsan, countless foams, and a “deconstructed cocktail” with a famed "exploding olive"--the gel-like orb bursting with saline liquid on the palate. El Bulli was considered the culinary Mecca for ambitious chefs who wanted to test their limits and deep-pocketed gastronauts who wanted to take their tastebuds on a thrill ride. Adria even guest lectured at Harvard University on the science behind his dishes.

So when Adria announced that he would close his kitchen forever in 2012 and instead focus on his new culinary and creativity foundation, the news sent shockwaves through the foodie world. El Bulli went out with a bang last July with several lavish “last suppers” peopled by movie actresses, international venture capitalists and of course foodie journalists with “golden tickets” to the temple of gastronomy. New York Magazine’s chief food writer Adam Platt immortalized one of these dinners in an excellent story for New York Magazine. He wrote:

An el Bulli dish: couscous of cauliflower with solid, aromatic salsa An el Bulli dish: couscous of cauliflower with solid, aromatic salsa

“Adria, the founding genius of the inventive, madcap school of cooking known as ‘molecular gastronomy,’ has been dazzling the food world for nearly three decades with his avant-garde creations. …Out of nowhere, he began spinning miracles: tomato foams, rose petals crisped with sugar, the yolks of raw quail eggs encased, by some wonder of physics, in pouches of golden sugar. Soon the Catalonian chef was being compared by his legions of admirers to Dali, Picasso, and Le Corbusier. Chefs traveled around the world to marvel at his creations and to study the techniques of the man who’d turned the stuffy, staid world of haute cuisine on its head.”

Now this Dali of dishes and Picasso of plates is auctioning off his famed El Bulli wine cellar and various totemic kitchen items (menus, signed chef aprons, custom spherical olive dishes, and cookbooks, plus the opportunity to dine with Ferran at Albert Adria’s Tickets in Barcelona) via two major auctions conducted by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on April 3 and New York City on April 26. The sale of all wine and culinary items will benefit The elBulli Foundation—Ferran’s experimental centre devoted to culinary innovation and creativity in general. One of Ferran’s projects will be to create a new culinary encyclopedia and website called Bullipedia.

And, of course, for dishes as cutting-edge as Ferran’s, the el Bulli cellar, overseen by Juli Soler, had to be equally out-of-this-world—though less avant-garde than old-school in its composition. Think quaffs from classical wine regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux, as well as Sherry, Rioja, Cava and Champagne. 8,807 bottles will be offered over the course of the two auctions with a pre-sale estimate of  $1.1/$1.6 billion. In this case the mystique surrounding the el Bulli cellar is just as valuable as the prized wines themselves.

Further details about the Sotheby’s auctions and an elBulli video on the Foundation can be found at www.sothebys.com/elbulli

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SOTHEBY'S WINE AUCTION OF THE EL BULLI CELLAR 

SPAIN:

Over, 2,000 bottles of Spanish wine including Six different vintages of Clos Erasmus; nearly 100 bottles and six different vintages of Vega Sicilia “Unico” from 1987 to 1996; nine different vintages and 157 bottles of Pingus

 

RHONE:

415 bottles from Chateau de Beaucastel including, thirteen vintages of Chateau de Beaucastel Rogue from 1983-2004 featuring bottles, magnums and Jeroboams; Hermitage; La Turque from Guigal

 

El Bulli restaurant overlooking the Costa Brava region of Spain El Bulli restaurant overlooking the Costa Brava region of Spain

BORDEAUX:

All five First Growths are present in multiple vintages highlighted by full cases of bottles and magnums of Chateau Latour 2005; five vintages of Yquem from 1989-2001 featuring 5 different formats.

 

RED BURGUNDY:

Over 1,400 bottles total, including 7 vintages of La Tâche; 5 vintages of Romanée Conti, including three bottles of 1990; 7 vintages of Echézeaux

 

WHITE BURGUNDY:

Over 1,000 bottles including 28 bottles of Montrachet from DRC; over 600 bottles of Lucien Le Moine including Corton, Charlemagne, Chevalier Montrachet.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

1,300 bottles of Vin de Pays de l’Hérault, Domaine de la Grange des Péres; multiple offerings of rare Oloroso and Solera Sherry dating back to 1830

 

Further details about the Sotheby’s auctions and an elBulli video on the Foundation can be found at www.sothebys.com/elbulli

 

Wines from the El Bulli cellar Wines from the El Bulli cellar