A Fine Vintage: uncorking the value in your vintage wine and spirits
Ahead of the Fine Vintage Wine and Spirits Auction, Food&Wine finds out more about securing the best possible bottles. Brought to you in association with Adam’s Auctioneers.
Adam’s Auctioneers hold their Fine Vintage Wine and Spirits Auction in Dublin twice each year, positioning hidden gems from private cellars onto the Irish and international market. Adams’s Director Stuart Cole shares the inside track on how to secure the best value for your bottles this May.
Who is the typical vendor at your Fine Vintage Wine and Spirits Auction?
We get all sorts of bottles from all sorts of vendors. Somebody might have a gift that’s been sitting idly in the cupboard and they’re curious to know its worth. Others are collectors who buy en primeur or lay down a certain amount of wine and end up not drinking it. And then you have the clients who have a cellar and are very interested in wine, but are maybe finding that as they get older they are drinking lighter styles, or drinking less.
Why sell vintage wines and spirits at auction?
The big advantage of auction – particularly for unusual or hard-to-source wines – is the open competition, so wines can make considerably more than anticipated. Plus it’s a very straightforward and convenient process. In contrast, if you are selling wine privately you may have to deal with multiple potential buyers, and also ensure you’re reaching the right market. Wine is a very internationally portable product. We do a lot of advertising and marketing online, and the wines are listed internationally on all searchable wine sites. If buyers are looking for something in particular, they can see that’s coming up for auction in Dublin.
Where do you start and what’s involved?
For vendors, it really couldn’t be easier: simply send us a list of wines or spirits with their names, vintage dates and photographs, and we will come back to you with estimated values.
There is no proof of purchase or provenance needed. Obviously the more information available on how it has been cellared, the better, but you can tell you a lot from the condition of the capsule, or of the fill level in the bottle.
We price the wines based on current international auction records and also previous prices that we have achieved. Certain wines sell better here in Ireland, particularly those with Irish heritage, like Lynch Bages, for example.
Then the wines just need to be delivered or collected, and we look after everything else. You get paid within about three weeks of the auction when all accounts are settled.
What sells well?
We look at absolutely everything. You never know what someone’s going to be interested in, so it’s important for us to make the auction as diverse and variable as possible.
Of course selling a really good La Maison Haut-Brion is great for grabbing headlines. We sold a very interesting case of 1961 La Maison Haut-Brion from the cellars of Peter White, who used to run Whites on the Green. It had an estimate of €12,000–€16,000, and sold for €29,000. That’s illustrative of how hard it is to predict the exact price of a very rare wine.
The bread and butter of these sales, however, are the €20 to €30 per bottle sales – and that’s what makes it interesting for collectors looking for something a little bit unusual but affordable to drink. There’s also great value between €100 to €300 in these sales. Many people are quite happy to take a risk on a single bottle, where they haven’t tried it before and it looks in good condition, so they’ll take a chance.
How does the auction work?
It’s just as easy and approachable to bid online as it is to consign. Each sale typically consists of one or two hundred lots. Every lot is photographed, which gives you a good idea of condition. The auction is published on our website and wines go on view in our auction room in Stephen’s Green. You can get your hands dusty and inspect the wines yourself, or if you can’t attend, you can ring up the office to ask the staff for help, a condition report or further photographs.
For an online timed auction like this, buyers register to bid on our website, with the option of bidding live or auto-bidding up to a maximum of their choice. At around noon on May 25th, the auction will start closing like every regular auction, sequentially starting from lot number one. Lots of people wait to bid until the day of the auction. Each lot has 30 seconds to close and if somebody bids within the last few seconds, the clock is reset for another 30 seconds.
You’ll get an email every time you’ve been outbid or are the highest bidder at that particular moment. The winning bidder is automatically invoiced and can collect next day or arrange delivery. It couldn’t be easier.
What can buyers expect from this month’s auction?
Already in this sale we have top names from Bordeaux like Chateau Pétrus, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Margaux, plus Burgundy’s Romanée-Conti, and Italian Tignanello from 2016. There tends to be less supply of new world wines at auction in Ireland. We also have vintage Krug and Bollinger champagne, a port from 1920, and good quality Midleton. But it could literally include anything, which is what keeps things interesting.
Interested in consigning or getting an evaluation?
Contact Beverly Hayes (BA ASCSI ARICS) by telephone 01 676 0261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow Adam’s Auctioneers on Facebook (Adam’s Auctioneers) and Instagram (@adams.auctioneers).
The next Fine Vintage Wine and Spirits auction goes live on Friday, 12 May 2023 and the sale will begin to close at noon on Thursday, 25 May 2023.