Even cooler Cali pinot
Terrific deluxe meritage from Two Sisters
A cool California chardonnay
Pinot grigio beats chardonnay!
Frame-up: The Beer Store, beer tax and beer prices


Love Old Wines But Not the Cost? Too Bad!

Iron Gate, together with Toronto's go-to wine auctioneer Stephen Ranger, held Ontario's first-ever "estate auction" of wine - with 2,500 bottles from the late Ian Grant's cellar.

The numbers are impressive: all 250 lots found buyers. Guide price estimates ran from a total of $59,395 at the low end to $84,056 at the upper end. The actual take was well above the top estimate at $106,087 including the 12.5 % buyer’s premium.

Normally privately collected wines may not be sold in this province. There's the one annual commercial auction run by Vintages (and they're picky about what they'll take and charge a hefty premium), or you can donate the wines to charity and get that surge of joy from giving plus a tax receipt. But there's a little-known clause in the AGCO's regulations that allows a sale of wines for private gain - an estate sale. Iron Gate President Warren Porter said ‘We hope that this will be the first of many estate wine auctions to come. We proved on Saturday that Ontario is more than ready to embrace the concept of wine sales outside of the usual channels. It certainly will give executors more options when it comes to maximizing the value of wines from private estates."

Too bad you have to be dead to sell your wine.

Stephen Ranger gets the bidding going for the SRO crowd. "Next time we'll book the Skydome," he said



The two cases under which a private collection of wine may be auctioned are by the executor of an estate or following a "sherrif's siezure," according to Warren Porter of Iron Gate. "The auction is being held under a special occasion permit issued by the AGCO that allows for the sale by auction of wine from private estates. This is the first time it's been done."  Why not before? Well there are a lot of logistics involved in running a wine auction - not least having a mailing list of the small minority of people interested, so no estate in the past has done auctioned off wines.

The pent-up demand for old wines in Toronto was obvious as I grabbed the last available seat and more buyers crowded in, looking down from the stairs or standing at the back: it was a big crowd and nobody comes to an auction just to watch. The tone was set immediately - everything went to the upper end of or, even more commonly, above guide. That trend continued. Some examples:

Wine Guide Price Range Actual Hammer Price

Chateau de la Dauphin 1998 (8 bottles)

$80-120 $240
Chateau La Cardonne 1995 (12 bottles) $240-360 $750
Clos Du Marquis 2001 (12 bottles) $480-600 $750
Domaine Du Vieux Lazarete 2003 (8 magnums) $400-500 $850
G. Borgogno Barolo 1978 (3 bts) and 1982 (4 bts) $350-500 $1,000







It's important to note that the hammer price is then hit with a 12.5% buyer's premium plus HST (13%).

In most regions the prices were above the range, but there did turn out to be some value in Southwest France. The late Ian Grant, who built up the collection, was a fan of Cahors and Madiran. There were numerous cases of Chateau Lagrezette from Cahors and most cases went for $325. That's $413 after mark-up, which equals €305, or €25.44 per bottle. The current price of 2005 Chateau Lagrezette is... €25. Given that French wine prices are always cheaper than Ontario prices, those buyers did well.

My Purchase
Well yes I overpaid... I bought a case of one of my favourite Chateauneuf de Papes, Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2005, a good vintage, at $42 a bottle after all charges. The 2008 is currently on sale for $29.95. I totally recommend you buy some and keep it for a few years.

My other potential purchases (incl. shared purchases with a pal) were all nixed by the frenzied bidding to well above the top of the guide price range. It's important to maintain price discipline in an auction and I stuck to my upper limits.

Have a look at the catalgue by clicking the link on the Iron Gate website .



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