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Have you ever noticed people refer to German Auction wines and wondered what they were talking about? For anyone interested, here is an explanation of what they are (if I screw something up, I'm sure someone will help me out).

Every September, wine auctions are held in Germany. There are 4 main wine auctions held. 2 for Mosel wines, 1 for Rheingau and a combined auction for the Nahe and Ahr. They are open to the public but you must get tickets in advance (about 300 tickets are available). They are very serious and collectors and top merchants attend to try and get their allotment of these wines. Eventually you will see some of these "auction" wines make their way onto retail shelves. If you are an individual you cannot bid directly but must go through an importer who will bid through an official commissioner.

Of course there are tastings connected to these events and you will be able to try all of the rare and exotic beauties while talking to the winemakers. The tastings are held in the morning before the auction. Interestingly, each wine is also poured as it is being auctioned.

These auctions began as a way for wineries to commercially sell their wine. In the past all of the wine produced by the participating estates was sold through the auctions. Now most is sold through normal distribution channels and only a few small production wines are sold at the auctions. These are usually the rarest and best bottlings from the estate. Occasionally, they also include wines from older vintages but for the most part the wines are from the most recent vintage. These auctions are not charity events. Wineries use them as marketing and promotional tools and stand to make money if their wines sell well.

Although the quality of the wines and estates represented is very good, not every winery in Germany participates and some mediocre estates have wines at the auctions as well. Furthermore, the auctions are only held in certain regions. A region like the Pfalz does not have an auction.

Wine Spectator has a number of reviews for these auction wines on their website. Most of them will be Gold Kap or Long Gold Kap wines. Since the wines are so rare, WS does not publish the reviews in the magazine and they are "web only" reviews. WS will state that they are "auction wines" right in the review. Some of the top auction wines recently reviewed by WS are:

2001 Fritz Haag Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Long Gold Cap Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr (WS99)- 20 cases

2001 Reinhold Haart Riesling Auslese Gold Cap Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Piesporter Goldtröpfchen (WS98)- 34 cases

2001 von Hovel Riesling Auslese Long Gold Cap Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Oberemmeler Hütte 2001 (WS97)- 50 cases

2001 Milz-Laurentiushof Riesling Auslese Gold Cap Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Trittenheimer Apotheke (WS97)- 47 cases

I hope someone finds this information useful.


[This message was edited by Vino Me on Nov 11, 2003 at 04:53 PM.]
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Coincidentally, someone just posted notes of wines tasted at the recent Nahe auction on another board. The Dönnhoffs on auction look amazing, e.g. the Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Beerenauslese
which went for EUR 195 a bottle. But as you can see a lot of garbage was auctioned (or attempted) might have to do with the wineries of the Nahe more than these auctions generally though.
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Vino Me, it wouldn't be a problem to organize a ticket for you for the preauction tasting next year in Zurich. It's not the auction itself (which would be funnier and more interesting naturally), but you can taste practically most of the VdP-wines and deposit your written offer(s) for the auction as well.

Anche Dio è di-vino
Thanks for bumping this thread VM, and your enthusiasm for German wine in general.

A few questions you might be able to answer about the mechanics of the actual auction? You wrote about securing allotments above - does each bidder for wine "xyz" chose to bid only on a desired number of bottles or must one bid on the entire lot? If it's exclusively the latter I can't see to many individual collectors participating, even for wines made in "miniscule" quantities. Alternately, if you can bid for just a certain number of bottles does that mean you might pay a different price than the bidder next to you?

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