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.]