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A local (reputable) auctioneer is soon to hold an auction of wines and spirits. Their most recent wine auction consisted mainly of small lots of old wines of all sorts, with a few full cases of claret. Some wines looked very unlikely to be drinkable (ancient Piesporter Michelberg QbA) but there were some 1976 Auslesen that went for a song.
One lot included, amongst others, a First Growth Bordeaux from a good year, a 2002 Beaujolais Nouveau and a Liebfraumilch
Does anyone have experience of this kind of auction? Any tips you’d like to share?

In my experience you need to study the sale list in advance and go with a firm limit as to what you would spend on any given lot. Do you know how bottles have been stored? I remember someone bidding £3000 on DRC, as much as I might have wanted them it was well out of my league. You may find some “treasures” at a ridiculously cheap price. Good luck.


Check the costs and delivery/collection especially as we can’t be present or pick it up ourselves.

Some houses only use certain firms and charge loads for it.


It’s a lottery - and you can end up with a right of mix of gems and rubbish. I love them, but go with a budget in mind.


You hear lots of stories of people buying wine for a lot less than they should cost but I think you need to price in a lot of discount unless you know exactly where the wine has been since release. As far as I know there is really no comeback if your purchase turns out to be faulty in some way. As a result I’ve never bothered.


Auctioneers will basically auction anything that comes their way! There are some that take wine seriously enough to have set up and staffed separate departments. And then there are a few whose sole function is to auction wine.

At the generic end, it’s anyone’s guess where the wine has been - next to the Aga? - in a cool dark cellar? Caveat emptor.

In the category of auctioneers having specialist departments, these will usually take more interest in the likely condition of the wine, so if you want to know, give them a call. There’s a much better chance they can give some sort of guidance that should help you formulate a view as to their worth to you. These comments apply even more to specialist wine auctioneers.

But always remember, there will be no comeback, and the risk of a duff lot is non-zero. Only bid if you understand and are comfortable with this. And don’t get carried away! Some lots go for more than you could source them for at a wine merchant.

Over the long run, I totally agree with @thewinelake


I love an auction…I have had some bargains and some drain cleaners

biggest pointer…do your research - lots of sites where you can get prices (retail and auction) but also check for years in regions you aren’t so sure of

If possible go and view before bidding - my local auction moved viewing forward 2 days so it fitted before lockdown ! Check the bottles and ask where lots have come from - collectors, house clearances, restaurants, liquidators, retailers etc

Have prices in mind (including hammer and website fees) and don’t exceed them

And…its only a bargain if you want it!


You…?? Never… :laughing:

I know ! its where I get my all those magnums of vintage blue nun from

ps…pot meet kettle


Remember there’s just no way of knowing how many times a wine has gone round - people will offer wine they bought in auction and turned out to be shot in the next auction. As mentioned above, check carefully how it will be delivered to you. Collection is usually limited and you may find out the wine has been kept in a heated warehouse next to a radiator. I’ve been there and done that and it’s a total gamble. As long as you know in advance!


I used to go to local specialist wine auctions but I could go to the viewing day, study the bottles and packaging, get a feel of where it may have come from, then go home to check the prices and set a limit well below. Remember to add buyer’s premium plus VAT to the hammer price. I got a few cases and all were in good condition but most soon went over my limit and I was happy to walk away with money left to use next time. As I was in the auction room on the day, I paid and collected on my way out.
These days they are all online so it is somewhat more complicated.


Thank you all for your helpful advice. All makes good sense. I’ll report back around Christmas.

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Good luck !

I will give you ÂŁ4.32 for a 1977 Magnum of blue nun with a shoulder label :wink:

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It’s mine! :wink:

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That will be ÂŁ25 please with buyers premium. Oh and and another ÂŁ25 for delivery :wink:


you “Swedes” are used to paying these extortionate rates :wink:



69Kr!! That’s at least £6 a bottle. I couldn’t actually believe they still made/sold it until I checked. Look what else they do…


Now that is properly classy! Friday night - sorted. :grimacing:


Now what I really want to know is who actually drinks it??


When I was doing my WSET3, my tutor mentioned that it was one of the wines in a blind off-dry riesling session during her Diploma. While not one of the best, it apparently wasn’t one of the worst either.

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Another thing about auctions, not yet mentioned is the presence of restaurant owners and/or sommeliers in the bidding crowd.

Quite often the price achieved by some lots is escalated because whatever price they pay, they will always achieve their mark-up. I have seen many small lot, mediocre vintages go for much higher prices than one would expect because of this. Even if they fail to win the lot, they have in effect driven the price higher.