You can participate from afar to secure your wine(s) of choice
Every year, wine enthusiasts and professionals the world over who cannot personally attend the auctions can virtually participate by placing bids online. Here is a list of the wine brokers who will gladly place your absentee bids. Similar to brokers on the stock exchange, they handle bidding, payments, and shipments on behalf of their clients. The VDP regional offices also accept bids prior to the auctions.
“Wet” Auctions – Quite an Experience
There’s nothing quite like the experience of attending a wine auction in person. They all 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. Those who wish to attend both the pre-tasting as well as the auction can purchase a combination ticket. These are available on site and can also be ordered online.
Since its founding in 1897, when the VDP was known as auctioneers of “Naturweine” (natural, or unchaptalized, wines), the auctions have served its members as a benchmark of the market for top German wines. The fine distinction of the VDP auctions is that all wines come directly from the producers’ cellars – a guarantee of the wines’ authenticity and quality. Only the best lots of a vintage come under the hammer, i.e., wines from individual vineyard sites, ranging from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese. The wines of the newest vintage predominate, supplemented by a limited number of rarities.
Minimum starting prices run the gamut from reasonable to expensive, depending on the renown of the vintner, the vintage, the wine’s origin and quality level, as well as the number of bottles available. Often, young wines achieve new world records. 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.
In addition to the annual regional auctions, the VDP national association also conducts a rare wine auction about every ten years – the last one was the “anniversary auction” to celebrate the association’s centennial in 2010. According to honorary VDP president Michael Prinz zu Salm-Salm: “The absolute record was set in 1987, when one bottle of 1735 Johannisberger Riesling from Weingut Schloss Schönborn fetched DM 53.000 (ca. €26,000). The winning bid was placed by a German-Canadian businessman named Apfelbaum. This attests to the potential that lies in our handcrafted wines produced from traditional grape varieties and grown in top sites. Only someone who has personally experienced the suspense of an auction can appreciate how much enthusiasm wine can evoke.”
The steadily growing presence of international guests from the USA, Japan, Benelux, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and increasingly, Eastern Europe, is a sign that the annual wine auctions help foster the image of Germany’s finest wines well beyond the German border. These are auctions at which the reputation of the newest vintage of Germany’s finest wines is truly put to the test and determined.