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Christie's first ever Premier Signature Cellars online-only wine auction

August 03, 2012|By S. Irene Virbila | Restaurant Critic
  • Christie's Signature Cellars online only wine auction begins August 6. Bidding ends August 20.
Christie's Signature Cellars online only wine auction begins August… (Christie's )

The London-based auction house Christie’s is holding its first online-only wine auction Monday. Although they’ve had online participation in previous auctions, this one is an all-new format. Their techno-wizards have adapted the software used for Christie’s Elizabeth Taylor auction in December to work for a wine auction.

Scott Torrance, vice president and senior wine specialist, managed to persuade three collectors to offer 301 lots for the first-ever Signature Cellars sale, described as “a closely curated mix of collectible blue-chip wines and approachably-priced selections.”

What interests me most are the lots from a collector who bought wines more for the pleasure of drinking them than as an investment. These are more affordable wines from less prestigious appellations than the pedigreed Bordeaux that drive the market. A dozen bottles of 1996 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in the sale, for example, are estimated to bring $12,000 to $18,000. Way out of my price range. But lots of single vineyard Bandol from Domaine Tempier (La Tourtine, La Migoua and Cabassaou) in Provence, one of my favorite wine estates ever, are estimated at a few hundred dollars. Of course, they could go for much more, but that’s the excitement of an auction.

There are also lots of Vieux Télégraph Châteauneuf du Pape as well. Unless you’ve cellared these wines yourself, you don’t see older vintages much in restaurants or elsewhere.

On the Christie's website, click “Signature Cellars” and then the tiny box at the right “Browse Sale,” by list or grid. You can then refine your search by appellation, vintage, estate, etc. You’ll have to click the image, though, to find out which estate’s 1996 Corton-Charlemagne, for example, is up for bidding. (Bonneau du Martray, 7 bottles, estimate $550 to $750). Or to find out that the double magnum of 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape in original wooden case (estimate $250 to $400) is Vieux Télégraph’s.

Bidding begins Monday and closes Aug. 20. Even if you don’t bid, it’s fun to look in on the sale. And then check back in after Aug. 20 to see what the various lots actually fetched. For more info, contact Christine Erickson at (212) 636-2270;


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