The 19th annual Premiere Napa Valley futures wine auction, held Saturday at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California, raised an event-record $6 million.
Saturday’s total topped the $5.9 million mark set at last year’s event, organized by the Napa Valley Vintners.
The barrel-tasting trade event offered a sneak peek of the spectacular 2013 vintage, considered particularly ageworthy, deliciously fruit forward and with pronounced tannins.
Premiere wines are made exclusively for the event and sold to single bidders in lots from 5–20 cases. More than 700 merchants, restaurateurs, distributors and importers from eight countries and 30 states showed up to support Napa Valley winemakers and raise their paddles.
Many of the 225 exclusive barrel lots were Cabernet Sauvignon-based, with smaller smatterings of other options, from a 1989 late-disgorged sparkling wine from Schramsberg to Lail Sauvignon Blanc and Saintsbury Pinot Noir.
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Cab proved to be king, attracting more bids than any other wines. The top lot, BRAND Napa Valley, made by Philippe Melka, fetched $115,000 for five cases. Another Melka lot, Fairchild Napa Valley’s five cases of St. Helena Cabernet, raised $100,000.
“The Fairchild blew us away, and the wines in general were so strong and clearly having classic infrastructure,” said Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library, one of the top five bidders of the day. “We walked away with every lot we wanted but four.”
Winemaker Russell Bevan’s project, Chateau Boswell Oakville Cabernet, one of the last lots of the day, also raised $100,000.
Saturday’s biggest hauls paled in comparison to last year’s highest bid: $260,000 for five cases of Scarecrow bought by Los Angeles retailer The Wine House.
This year, bidders spread the wealth among different producers. Many newcomers with pedigreed vineyard sites and notable consulting winemakers received interest.
The top lots were, in order, BRAND Napa Valley; Chateau Boswell Winery; Fairchild Napa Valley; Gandona Estate; Shafer Vineyards; Pulido-Walker; Memento Mori; a collaboration between CONSTANT, David Arthur, Italics and Reynolds Family Winery; Silver Oak Cellars; and Rombauer Vineyards.
Top trade accounts bidding at the event included Total Wine & More; Cliffewood Wine Syndicate; Gary’s Wine & Marketplace; Wine Library; Beverage Warehouse; Nakagawa Wine Co.; The Wine House; N16 Cellars; Meritage Wine Market; and Veraison.
The average wholesale price per bottle sold was $286, up from last year’s average of $283.