Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh, Shit!

A Deal-Seeker's Tale - Be Careful What You Wish For

We've all wanted to be that person - the one who nonchalantly raises the paddle as the surrounding bidding reaches a frenzy and the stakes get higher.  Right?

No, it wasn't Christie's or Sotheby's, but that itch has been scratched.  And now that it has, I'm still trying to figure out how to explain this one to my wife...

Still unsure of what the original compulsion was, but scant minutes of surfing the "Bin Ends" section of and a couple of dozen wines were in my "Lot Tracker" - basically the equivalent of EBay's "watching" function. Taking the Ebay likening further to heart, I bid on a few handfuls of wines two hours before the end of the auction. It's Sunday night, I'm not going hover over the bid key like some kind of a junky. If I get a few, great. If not, no big deal...

Turns out no one else wants to hover over their keyboard on a Sunday night, either - at least not for the lower-end offerings I filtered into my search.

Monday's sun rose on an inbox full of congratulations. You are the...uh, proud? Er...happy? Umm...legally obligated owner of almost two cases of wine. Standing there in boxer shorts waiting for the coffee pot to finish, my face was red with a mixture of shame and embarassment as I read the emails.  I left like the guy who bid on all those oddball silent auction items at a fund raiser only to later learn that he's the winning bidder - on all of them.

There will be a hiatus on any kind of wine shopping for a while, but how'd we do? Strictly by the numbers it shook out like this:
  • 20 bottles
  • $340 in winning bids
  • $47.60 in buyer's premium (14%)
  • $3.40 in insurance (1%)
  • $56 in shipping (estimated)
  • That's a grand total of $447.00 (GULP), or $22.35 per bottle.
The extras add up. A lot. The premium, insurance, and shipping add $5.35 to each bottle. Are these wines worth it? Probably, but not certainly - and I doubt I got the sizzling deal I thought I had stumbled on to. The take included the following wines, most of which I know little about (if you know anything about these, please chime in):
-2004 Armida Castelli-Knight Vineyard Pinot Noir
-2004 Barnett Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
-2005 Beringer Alluvium Red (x 2)
-2001 Chalk Hill Estate Bottled Merlot
-2006 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve
-2001 Consilience Santa Barbara County Syrah
-1999 Delille Cellars D2
-2002 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras Cuvee Doucinello
-1997 Kalyra Buttonwood Farm Vineyard Cabernet Franc
-2002 Kalyra Reserve Syrah
-2003 Louis Bernard Gigondas (x 2)
-2000 M. Brown Barossa Valley Shiraz
-2003 Meander Cabernet Sauvignon
-2005 Rancho Sisquoc Flood Family Vineyard Pinot Noir
-2002 Rancho Sisquoc Flood Family Vineyards Syrah
-2001 St. Clement Cuvee Rev. Pott Limited Release Syrah
-2005 Stolpman La Coppa
-2003 Tablas Creek Vineyard Cotes de Tablas

My cavalier approach to the bidding was way off the reservation. Casual vigilance scored me a proprietary white blend thinking it was a single vineyard Syrah. Way to go, Einstein!  It's going to be a while before the sting of the credit card charge wears off. If it does, here's what I'll do differently next time:
  • Bid only on wines I've had, know, and love. Everything else is speculation.
  • Bid only on wines that are either uncontested or whose bids are ridiculously low.
  • Factor the premium, insurance, and shipping overhead into every bid before hand.
Incidentally, I did look up the current release prices on these wines. The total? $670. Stay tuned for updates on these wines - and whether they deliver beyond their action price...


  1. I think I've had the Tablas Creek. Know I've had the Beringer Alluvium blend -- it's a good, maybe even "rather good but not great" Bordeaux blend. Pretty fruit-forward as I recall. Would do well with red meat.

    Some of those are pretty old; here's hoping they've been stored properly.

  2. Thanks, Craig. It'll be interesting to work through these wines. As far as their age and provenance, one cool feature has is a description of where and how the wine was stored since its purchase. Nevertheless, there's inherent risk in the purchase of any aged wine. It's going to be September before they'll ship, so stay tuned on a full rundown after they arrive...



  3. Pretty much some of the funniest stuff I've read today! You pulled some nice Southern Rhone Crus off the table, hopefully those work out. Is the Cote de Tablas a white blend?

  4. Thanks, Sam. The Cote de Tablas is a red, it's the Stolpman I thought was a Syrah, when in fact it's a white blend. Argh!




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