April 20, 2008

Auction Wines

No, not high-end rieslings from the famous German wine auctions. You go do that. I’m simply talking about buying wines from online auctioneers like Winebid.com. I got into it a number of years ago when Winebid was new and I didn’t have a mortgage or kids. Being me, I never spent much money. But I was amazed then at what I could buy for relative peanuts. For $20 or less back then, I got things like:

1978 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa ValleyLot 2”
1976 Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou St. Julien
1990 DeLoach Zinfandel Russian River Valley Pelletti Ranch

And lots more…wines you couldn’t find on store shelves, wines that weren’t necessarily great, but wines that were very interesting if not outright delicious. Certainly more fun for this wine geek than the swath of mostly new release stuff I usually have access to on local shelves.

Then came kids and the house, and my Winebid days ended. That is until a few months ago, when the happy mix of Christmas money and free time led me back to the fold. I even remembered my old password, so in I logged and off I went.

Auctions used to be something like 10 days long, maybe starting on a Thursday and then ending the week from Sunday, with a few off days before the next auction opened. Now auctions start and end each Sunday, with just 15 minutes for things to reset before the next week’s auction begins. I like this new schedule.

It used to be that you could buy dribs and drabs of bottles over a number of auctions, then consolidate everything into one shipment to make sure shipping charges didn’t negate the good deals. Perhaps my Winebid days ended way back when after the policy apparently changed where they’d charge you for storing wines not shipped immediately. That was probably reasonable for them, but this customer didn’t like the change on bit. Especially since the change seemed a bit pourous. The policy wasn’t entirely clear, and the whole confusion just turned me off.

Now, with the weekly auctions, Winebid has a clear policy and shipping schedule such that you can amass wines from two consecutive auctions without storage charges. My goal – to fill out a case over two auctions, so that with ground shipping from California to Oregon I’m paying only about $2 a bottle for packaging and transit.

So far, it’s working too well. My wife isn’t reading this, right? Seriously, I’ve managed to get some fascinating things without spending too much money. My goal for the wine cellar is to find some newer relase, high quality things at discount prices and fill in older vintages that my cellar largely lacks. Thus far, I’ve managed some interesting things within my old budget, like:

1981 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley “Rutherfold”
2004 Selbach Oster Rielsing Auslese* Zeltinger Schlossberg
1997 McKinlay Pinot Noir Willamette Valley “Special Selection”
2001 Bouchard Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru “Chaboeufs” Signature

And others…including the following two wines that I’ve tried so far.

First, the 2000 Bouchard Pommard Signature, a translucent red Burgundy from what’s known as a soft, early drinking vintage. This shows some oak in the aroma and there’s nice mature fruit and spice notes. The taste is a bit unbalanced, with tannin and drying fruit flavors, but it’s flavory as the Brits would say and a nice drink with dinner.

Then, the 1991 Stony Hill Riesling Napa Valley, which has a light gold color and smells nice with honey and petrol notes. The flavor though is a bit light and watery, not showing the intensity I expected from this notably cool vintage in California. Really though, it’s almost 17 years old, what should I expect even from a producer that’s known to produce long-lived wines. Sure enough, on the second day it seems more complete and well worth drinking, not something to hold on to but really interesting to drink now.

I’ve looked at other wine auction sites, but none seem to have the small, well priced lots I favor like Winebid. Anyone know of other sites that do?

1 comment:

Joel said...

Great, yet another way for me to go broke. Thanks a lot! ;)

Good to see you Friday at Michael's. Your blog makes me want to delete mine but I have to remember I have only been into the tastings for the last 4 months plus.