Thursday, September 22, 2016
At the VDP Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau, 2016, Germany
The traditional wine auctions of the German premium wine producers in the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe regions take place in March and at the end of September. This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the September wine auction in the Rheingau.
Most of the photos are mine. But I also took some photos from the facebook accounts of Weingut Allendorf, Weinkaiser and Martin Zwick.
4 Wine Auctions
Four wine auctions are held every year in Germany, where the premier German wine producers auction off some of the best young wines, as well as some older wines. Three of the four auctions are arranged by the regional associations of the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter (VDP).
These auctions differ from wine auctions on the second-hand market held by auction houses, where collectible wines are sold by private or corporate owners, since it is "first hand" wines that are sold. The wines of the newest vintage predominate, supplemented by a limited number of rarities.
The 4 auctions that are held annually are:
March: The annual auction of the Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach.
Late September, on three consecutive days, the auctions of the VDP regional associations of the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe:
Friday: VDP.Mosel at the IAT Plaza Hotel Trier
Saturday: VDP.Rheingau at Kloster Eberbach
Sunday: VDP.Nahe at the Römerhalle ("Roman Hall") in Bad Kreuznach
Often, young wines achieve new world records at these auctions. In 2000, for example, a 1999 Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from the Rheingau estate Weingut Robert Weil fetched DM 6,235 per bottle, while in 2001, a 750-ml bottle of 1994 Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof of Wiltingen on the Saar topped that record with DM 9,228.
The absolute record was set in 1987, when one bottle of 1735 Johannisberger Riesling from Weingut Schloss Schönborn fetched DM 53,000 (ca. Euro 26,000). The winning bid was placed by a German-Canadian businessman.
All auctions include a morning pre-tasting of all wines – except for rarities and single-bottle lots. During the actual auction itself, these wines are poured again and can be sampled before the auctioneer begins the bidding (wet wine auction).
The exact auction procedures vary somewhat between the different regional auctions, but have several things in common. The wines put up for auction must be approved by a tasting panel before being admitted to the auction. After that, a calling price is decided upon after a tasting by commissioners.
The wine makers do not sell their wines to the individual participants of the auction, but rather to approved commissioners, who act as intermediaries and cast the actual bids at the auction. These number about 10 per auction. The commissioners collect bids from the interested buyers before and during the auction. In most cases, a wine lot will be divided among several commissioners, with one of them as lead buyer. Commissioners charge around five percent of the auction price for their services.
The September 2016 VDP.Rheingau Auction at Kloster Eberbach
The morning pre-tasting started at 10:00 am, which Annette Schiller and I had to skip unfortunately. We arrived around noon for a hearty lunch – a soup – with VDP wines.
The auction started at 1:00 pm and ended at 5:00 pm. 36 lots were auctioned off, that means, on average it took 6 minutes for each wine and 1 hour for 9 wines. Except for a few, all wines were also poured. You had plenty of time to evaluate the wine. While we were tasting, the auctioneer Dr. Leo Gros would ask the winemaker to join him on the stage, he would say a few words about the wine and the winemaker and then end with a funny story or something like that.
Then, the bidding would begin. Initially, the commissioners would remain in their seat, but when it would get towards the final price they would get up and assemble around the Dr. Leo Gros and talk to each other and sometimes also to the winemaker. I am not exactly sure what was happening then.
The 2015 Weingut Fritz Allendorf Winkeler Riesling trocken „Goethewein aus dem Brentanohaus“ was one of the highlights of the Rheingau auction. This was the largest and most expensive bottle of the Rheingau auction. It was a Balthazar (12 liter) and went for Euro 1450 plus commission and VAT. The bottle was bought by a Chinese Riesling lover.
The September 2016 VDP.Mosel Auction in Trier
The 2016 VDP.Mosel auction in Trier was led by Max von Kunow, winemaker and owner, Weingut von Hövel. The brand-new VDP President of the VDP.Mosel, Carl von Schubert, Weingut Maximin Grünhaus, opened the auction.
At the Mosel auction, a 2015 Weingut Egon Müller Scharzhofberg Riesling Kabinett was sold for Euro 160 plus commission and VAT per bottle. The lot comprised a “Fuder” of 1000 bottles.
The September 2016 VDP.Nahe Auction in Bad Kreuznach
Leo Gros led the 2016 VDP.Nahe auction in Bad Kreuznach. Most of the wines auctioned off were from the Nahe Valley, but there were also wines from Rheinhessen, Pfalz and the Ahr Valley.
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