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So Why Are You Really Selling Those Wines?

2011 October 28
by Mike

It is the height of the wine auction season—the fall season, anyway—and a number of catalogs have landed in my mailbox in recent weeks (not my email inbox, my real mailbox, the one at the end of my driveway). I usually give the catalogs a quick look, if only to fantasize for a moment. One thing I always find amusing about wine auction catalogs are the cryptic descriptions of the sellers. “The collection of a passionate American connoisseur.” “A Connecticut collector’s deep offering of wines from France and California.” “Top Bordeaux from a New York gentleman.” The consignors are rarely named, and one naturally wonders who they are and what prompted them to dump their wines. No doubt, many of these sales have “interesting” stories behind them; wouldn’t it be awesome if the auction houses shared those stories (while protecting the identities of the sellers, of course)? Last night, while sort-of watching the baseball game, I decided to entertain myself for a few minutes by imagining how some unvarnished catalog entries might read. Below are the, er, fruits of my labor. If you find yourself bored at work today and feel like coming up with some spoof entries of your own, by all means post them in the comments section!

A disgraced East Coast gentleman has been forced to sell his wine collection as part of the settlement of an insider-trading case that was brought against him. To pay the SEC, he must unload the DRC—and, man, is there a lot of it! We are pleased to offer you these ill-gotten treasures.

This collection comes to us from a European aristocrat who, sadly for him, has been luckier in wine than in love. Having just gone through his third divorce (and they say the third time is the charm—not so!), he needs to liquidate a sizable portion of his cellar in order to cover his legal bills and multiple alimony payments.

This West Coast gentleman with a 10,000-bottle collection recently came to the rather belated realization that he doesn’t actually have a taste for wine (confusing Yellow Tail chardonnay for a Bâtard-Montrachet would jar anyone’s confidence). He has decided to pursue other interests and is thus selling all of his wines.

What’s worse than having a fortune and losing it? Having a fortune, losing it, and also having to part with your entire, painstakingly curated wine collection. But one man’s bankruptcy is another man’s bounty—this consignment, rich in Bordeaux, Burgundies and Rhones, comes to us from a Midwestern gentleman formerly of means.

This 3000-bottle collection is from the estate of a recently deceased New England gentleman. His last wishes were that the wines be sold at auction and the proceeds given to the ASPCA. He was adamant that the cellar not go to his children. His credo: “No, you can’t take it with you, but you sure as hell don’t have to leave it to them.”

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Bill Klapp permalink
    November 2, 2011

    Keith, does James Suckling have a cellar worth selling? I thought that he just drank other peoples’ wines for a living…

  2. November 2, 2011

    I have trouble believing that every single one of these consignors is really a “gentleman.” Just once, I’d like to see the heading for an assortment of Harlan and Silver Oak read, “From the collection of an utter douchebag.”

  3. Thomas permalink
    October 31, 2011

    “This High Flying Captain of Industry has come to the belated conclusion that he liked buying wine much more than actually drinking it. ”

    “This collection has been put together by a distinguished East Coast collector, whose wife has had the misfortune of stumbling upon his wine valuation excel file. Argument and threats ensued, followed by a phone call to the auctioneer.”

  4. October 31, 2011

    As one who both represents the sellers and has been writing those intros for over a decade- I can tell you that it is one of the simple pleasures of the job. The intent of the intro is two fold: 1- how long has the seller owned the wine? were they purchased on release, or recently acquired? 2- how and where were they stored? ie- “natural cellar” often means crawl space under the house… With just these two pieces of info – the buyer can gauge the risk you are taking in buying.
    So in all your fun intros, make sure to keep these two elements in for authenticity sake. It would be quite funny to include the third point: Motivation. But for the most part it would be a simple “due to a lack of space and a desire to keep buying, this gentlemen is forced to open up real estate in his cellar and is thus sharing some gems from his collection….”

  5. JPH permalink
    October 31, 2011

    Westchester dowager to-be has put up this impressive collection of older Bordeaux, Napa Cab and Aussie Shiraz amassed by her ventilator-bound husband; said to be more precious to him than his children and shared over the years with a succession of pneumatic blonde tartlets, share the joy of retribution as you acquire historic bottles from these priced-to-sell OWC first-growth lots.

  6. Bill Klapp permalink
    October 31, 2011

    And think of the electricity saved by not having to maintain the shoes at 55 degrees! A carbon footprint replaced by that of 5-inch platforms. Positively green!

  7. October 30, 2011

    The California equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw realized she has more bottles of wine than shoes in her possession. She thinks of all the shoes she could buy with the money she spent on wine. After all, she still has that $250 pair of shoes after the first wear. But that $250 wine? Gone in an evening. She knew just what she had to do. Clear out the wine cellar and make room for more shoes. Priorities are priorities. All auction profits will be plowed back into 5 inch platforms.

  8. Robin C permalink
    October 30, 2011

    A heavy metal band having recently acquired a prized collection composed largely of La Tache and Cheval Blanc is forced to liquidate them to reimburse the Ritz-Carlton for damages incurred during a bachelor party in their suite.

  9. Dan permalink
    October 29, 2011

    Hi Mike, great post. I just attended my first auction today, coincidentally, and was pondering how odd the short descriptions are. The “gentlemen” references, with just a vague geographic description seem like relics from a different era.

  10. October 29, 2011

    Thanks, guys; glad you enjoyed my stab at a little amusement, and as I said, feel free to pen your own. Jack, that sounds like it was a hell of a disappointing tasting, and yes, people ought to be exceedingly cautious when buying older wines, because you can get burned.

  11. Jack Bulkin permalink
    October 29, 2011

    Great images Mike. I have a friend that sold a large Bordceaux cellar this year. Every great bottle he opened for me was corked or tainted. Let the buyer beware.

  12. Bill Klapp permalink
    October 29, 2011

    Good stuff! I will let you write mine when I sell out. My cellar is hanging by a thread now. I can still tell Batard-Montrachet from Yellow Tail!

  13. mauss permalink
    October 29, 2011

    So funny to read such arguments !

  14. October 28, 2011

    (tapping Like button)

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