High-end wines sell for hot prices at auction

June 2, 2014

Looked to me like Memorial Day weekend was very successful. Businesses seemed to be booming. Grove Market was sold out for the entire holiday weekend, and I was rockin’ out. It also appeared the police presence in Dewey was less oppressive. I pass through each evening between 11 and 12 p.m., and usually it is Gumball City. This weekend was less Third World. Wonder what the crime stats will look like?

The Rule Napa Cab 2012 is some pretty nice wine priced under $20. When you consider the care put into it, the price is very fair. Grapes sourced in Napa; proper brix (sugar content); proper temperature; controlled fermentation times; 18 months in 100 percent French oak and a fairly typical Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot signaled its possibilities. Sure enough, it opened to a lovely purple claret color followed by a bouquet of currants, tobacco, blackberry and vanilla. These were expressed on the slightly out-of-balance palate with Cab Sauv, black cherry and cigar box flavors. Regarding lack of balance, slightly elevated tannins and dark color suggest cellar time. Also many have asked what “cigar box” means. This is shorthand for the combination of cedar and tobacco aromas that are typical of barrel-aged red wine.

Gary’s just sent up an ad for Honig Napa Cab 2011, 93 points Suckling and priced $36. Since our ridiculous legislators banned the import of wine for personal consumption, to benefit their distributor donors, I guess I’ll be forced to drive to New Jersey to drink some. Or maybe I’ll text my old pals Jean Lafitte or Dominique Youx. I would like to recommend you pay up a bit and have your local guy bring in some half bottles priced under $21.

I think the 2011, which many of the scribblers called a difficult year, is going to surprise those who cellar Honig’s offering. It will show better than the higher-touted and higher-priced 2010. Dark garnet, it opens to currant, cedar and sage notes. A nicely balanced Cab with black cherry, plum, and black tea flavors, enhanced by hints of pie spice, cassis, vanilla, and anise. Finishes long, and the tannin levels are appropriate for aging should you buy 750s. The 2011 reminds me of the 2007, which has turned out to be terrific. While I’m on these folks, a big tip of the McD cap to them. Not only are they good, clean, sustainable operators, but they keep their prices regular.

More great news from Zachys May 9 auctions. Prices were way up, and some of the wines I touted here did quite well. Six bottles of Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, recommended on these pages in 2007 at $440, sold at $3,920. Barolo Falletto di Serralunga Riserva Bruno Giacosa 2000 sold six bottles at $3,430; it was recommended in 2007 at $275. Romanee Conti Richebourg Cheval Blanc and Latour went for big numbers, as expected. However, they entered at elevated numbers. As all regular readers know, I rarely recommend these scarcity-driven wines. Prices do not include a 22.5 percent buyer’s premium, by the way. The folks who buy at this market pay large for the privilege. Entire, intact cases bring large premiums, so keep your mitts off the wooden boxes.

What a great hobby, you may think. Build a cellar. Store well-recommended wine you enjoy. Drink a bunch of it, then sell the rest for a profit. Downside! Drink a lot of great wine purchased at bargain prices. I know I’m making this sound easy, and trust me, it is not. Proper storage; purchasing wine you really enjoy that will meet expectations; armed guards and vicious dogs to keep you, the kids and your friends at bay; and your ability to repulse your impulses toward generosity are key to success. In the final count, if it is a business, you will receive the benefits and headaches which the word implies.

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