Featuring limited-edition bottlings primarily from the 2018 vintage in Napa Valley, this year’s Premiere Napa Valley auction raised $3.9 million to support the Napa Valley Vintners, up slightly from last year’s total of $3.7 million.
The increase is a welcome uptick after several years of declining totals from a high point in 2015, when Premiere raised a record $6 million, based largely on the rightfully high expectations for the outstanding 2013 vintage.
Held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, the annual event attracted more than 700 members of the wine trade to sample barrel lots of one-time-only wines.
Premiere wines are made exclusively for the event and sold to single bidders as futures in lots that number as little as 60 bottles (5 cases) and as much as 240 (20 cases). Merchants, restaurateurs, distributors and importers make up most of the attendees.
The 2018 vintage, which was showcased at this year’s auction via 90% of the lots offered, is widely considered fantastic in terms of both quality and quantity. Average crops were up 20–30%, and it was a picture-perfect year for most producers that yielded great aromatics and texture as well as volume.
“What I like about the 2018s is the depth of their character, a depth of fruit and structure for long-term aging… The fruit is not overripe; it’s perfectly ripe,” Master Sommelier Bob Bath told the Napa Valley Register.
A total of 201 individual lots were bought by a record number of winning buyers, 71, including 17 who had never previously purchased lots.
Top draws this year included wines from Rudd Estate, Darioush, Shafer, Silver Oak, Lewis, Ovid, Spottswoode, Duckhorn Vineyards and To Kalon Vineyard Company, a new project from the Robert Mondavi portion of the famous vineyard made by Andy Erickson.
The next Premiere Napa Valley is set for Saturday, February 20, 2021.