One of the worlds foremost wine collectors passed away last weekend in Old Town.
Over several decades, Lloyd Flatt amassed a dream collection of vintage Bordeaux and Burgundies, which included jeroboams of Chateaux Mouton Rothschild, Petrus, Ausone and other priceless Bordeaux.
At its peak, Flatts cellar teetered at over 15,000 bottles, mostly housed in his custom-made cellar that encompassed most of an entire house in New Orleans. After a divorce, Flatt was forced to sell 12,000 of those bottles at auction, and moved to Old Town a decade ago, building a far modest wine cellar in the basement of his home on the 500 block of Cameron Street.
Flatt would often pop some of his finest vintage crus for the benefit of his wine aficionado friends and for charities. His philosophy was that wine was made to be opened and enjoyed, not simply amassed, “Unlike an art collection, which is permanent, wine ultimately must be consumed. You shouldn’t even contemplate a cellar if you cannot accept the fact,” Flatt once told Wine Spectator.
Flatt died after a long illness at age 71. An international aerospace consultant, Flatt began acquiring top-drawer wines at auction in the 1960s, ultimately massing a massive cellar with a focus on first-growth Bordeaux.
In interviews, Flatt always maintained that his was a working cellar, not a showcase. He told Wine Spectator in a recent interview that he collected wine to learn about them, to drink and to share them. Often, Flatt would uncork a rare bottle if a guest expressed interest in it.
During the 1980s, according to the magazine, Flatt hosted wine extravaganzas, which included marching bands and black-tie dinner dances. His tastings included opening 115 bottles of Chteau Lafite dating back to 1784, plus Chteaus Ptrus, Mouton-Rothschild, and others. “They were all conducted gratis for the edification of his wine buddies,” the writer reported.
Among the holdings of his wine cellar, Flatt had a 1929 Chteau Mouton-Rothschild, double magnums of 1953 Chteau Ptrus and an 1806 bottle of Chteau Lafite Rothschild. However, he was forced to part ways with much of his beloved collection in 1990 when a divorce forced him to liquidate 12,000 bottles at auction.
Flatt once explained his basic approach to Wine Spectator: “I always mentally expensed the value of my wine at the time of purchase,” he said, “so that the adjusted cost never became an obstacle to uncorking a bottle. Unlike an art collection, which is permanent, wine ultimately must be consumed. You shouldn’t even contemplate a cellar if you cannot accept that fact.”