WINTER WINE AUCTION
Auction lots featuring big bottles of wine
8 One 9-liter bottle of 2007 Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and one 9-liter bottle of 2007 Grace Family Vineyards Blank Vineyard Cabernet Suvignon, both in etched bottles made specifically for the Naples Winter Wine Festival
16 Among the 20 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild is a 6-liter of the 1999 vintage
20 Six 6-liter bottles of Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2000 through 2005 vintages
32 Of the five bottles, there is a 5-liter bottle of the 2002 Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Montana Vineyard
36 Includes a 5-liter bottle of the 2006 Cardinale Estate
42 The highlight of this might be the African safari, but there are also six 5-liter bottles of wine
44 This from Araujo Estate includes, two 6-liter bottles and two 5-liter bottles
46 One 9-liter 2005 Chateau Haut-Brion and one 9-liter Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
53 Among the 13 bottles of wine in this is a 5-liter bottle of 2001 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard
58 Two big bottles of Tuscan wine, a 6-liter 2000 Antinori Tignanello and a 6-liter 2003 Antinori Solaia, are included in this Tuscan vacation package.
Source: Naples Winter Wine Festival
What do you call those big bottles
The bigger the bottle the more obscure the name. With the exception of the Imperial, a 6-liter bottle, and the Soverign, a 25-liter bottle, big bottles of wine are named for Biblical figures, usually kings. Some sizes have more than one name.
Here’s a list of some of the bottle sizes
3 liters Jeroboam, named for the first king of Northern Kingdom
4.5 liters Rehoboam, named for the first king of separate Judea
6 liters Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible
9 liters Mordechai, the uncle of Esther, Queen of Persia
9 liters Salmanazar, king of Assyria
12 liters Balthazar, one of the wise men
15 liters Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon
18 liters Melchior, one of the wise men
20 liters Solomon, king of Isreal and son of David
30 liters Melchizedek, king of Salem and a priest mentioned in Psalms 110
A few weeks back, Larry Andrews and Lee Anderson, along with their wives, went to a dinner where their host opened up a 3-liter bottle of 1921 Petrus, one of only nine such bottles known to be in existence.
It tasted like it was bottled last year.
“If you were blindfolded, you would have thought it was fresh,” Andrews says.
“It was amazing,” Anderson says. “It was almost 90 years old and still so vibrant.”
In baseball terms, it’s the equivalent of holding a mint-condition Honus Wagner T206 baseball card — and then burning it.
The bottle was part of an auction lot the friends went in on together at last year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival. Partners in collecting, Anderson, 70, and Andrews, 59, scour the festival’s auction brochure each year hoping to bag a special breed of wine — large-format bottles.
While most wine sold in the world is bottled 750 milliliters at a time, the bottles Anderson and Andrews prize most are much bigger. In the bar area of Andrews’ Pine Ridge home, a half-dozen empty large bottles, all covered in silver and gold signatures, are displayed on built-in shelves.
Each time he opens a big bottle at a party, Andrews has guests sign it to preserve the memory.
“It becomes a piece of history,” Andrews says. “It’s just like taking a photo. I can look at that bottle and instantly remember that party.”
As befits men with large collections, both have custom-built wine cellars in their homes. At both, large bottles hold places of special importance.
In Andrews’ cellar, the first thing you notice is a shelf loaded down with 6- and 9-liter bottles of wine like 1989 Chateau Haut-Brion. Another rack to the side holds even larger bottles including a 15-liter bottle that manages to still seem enormous when Andrews, who is at least 6-feet, 4-inches tall, holds it at his side.
Anderson had a special wine rack custom-made just to display a single 9-liter bottle of 2000 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir that long ago was relieved of its contents. His prized possession is a 6-liter bottle of Romanee-Conti Richebourg he won a few years back at the festival and then had signed by the vintner last year.
This is like a Hank Aaron rookie card that you waited in line to get signed by the Hammer himself — well, maybe not quite so populist.
“There is a certain amount of snootishness to have large-format bottles,” Anderson admits. “They are a lot less practical than 750s or magnums (1.5 liter bottles). And it’s cheaper to buy a case of wine. You pay substantially more for the privilege of owning a bottle. They are collector’s items.”
Hence why both men have so many unopened in their cellars. Many of those bottles will only remain in their collections until they feel like donating them back as auction items.
But there’s something spectacular about them when they are opened, Andrews says.
“They age better than a small bottle,” he says. “And they are just something of a novelty. When you open one up, you know it’s going to be a special night. And that you are going to have a headache in the morning.”
This year, the men have their eyes on a few big bottles, most notably the pair of 9-liter bottles produced specifically for the wine festival by Grace Family Vineyards. Both have won a set before and proudly display in their cellars the etched bottles covered in the logos of the charities the wine festival auction benefits.
“These will never be opened,” Anderson says.
Other interesting auction lots
Perhaps the biggest surprise at the 2010 Naples Winter Wine Festival auction is not what is offered, but what is missing — the cars.
Past auctions have featured Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and every other luxury brand you can think of, but this year the only cars offered up are the ones that will tote lot winners around to the various experiences they are bidding on.
The festival has definitely focused on wine this year, with experiences being the extra little something.
Here are four lots that caught our eye.
Included in this experience package for two couples are dinners at Spago and Sona, a lunch at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro, dinner with Kyle MacLachlan, a behind the scenes tour of the “Desperate Housewives” set and that of “Judge Judy” and VIP tickets to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The surprise? A walk-on part in ABC’s new comedy, “Modern Family.”
This lot is all about volume. Included in the 100 bottles of Australian wine is a 52-bottle, 12-year vertical of Penfolds Grange, perhaps the most sought after wine from down under.
For those whose desire is to be surrounded by the most glamorous people in the world, this is their lot. The package for two couples includes travel to and accommodations at the Cannes Film Festival. Walk the red carpet with and bump in to the biggest names in Hollywood, all while spending some quality time along the French coastline.
For the Nashville set, this lot offers both a lot of wine and a lot of music. Besides dinners with vintners Valerie and Jeff Gargiulo and various country music stars, the winner gets a chance to record his or her own song in a studio filled with professional musicians.