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NZ wine auctions – wine for investment

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Buying wine for investment in this country is a risky business because it is difficult to sell profitably. I have a collection of vintage ports from 1980, 1983 and 1985 that are taking up room in my cellar. The most I paid for any of them was around $35 but I was reluctant to sell them at auction for the estimated $100 a bottle (less seller’s premium). Instead, I’ve been opening the odd bottle at dinner parties, which at least gives me a chance to use my port tongs.

We have three active wine auction houses that I am aware of. Mossgreen-Webb’s in Auckland (was Webb’s until it merged with the large Australian auction house, Mossgreen), Fitz-Gerald Wine in Albany north of Auckland and Dunbar Sloane in Wellington.

I checked out their upcoming wine auctions quite recently and was surprised by the depth of wines on offer. Buyer’s premium does vary from house to house.

  • Mossgreen-Webb’s is the highest at 17.5% plus GST
  • Dunbar Sloan is close behind with 17% plus GST
  • Fitz-Gerald Wine is the lowest at 15% + GST

If you wish to pay by credit card expect to pay a premium of 2.5% for VISA and Mastercard or 4% for AMEX, at least that’s the case for Mossgreen-Webb’s and I assume the others have a similar arrangement.

Annoyingly, only one of the houses, Fitz-Gerald Wine, shows historic auction catalogues with prices paid alongside the original estimate. However, that did give me a chance to check the wines offered and see what they fetched.

The most expensive wine on offer was 2005 Lafite with an estimate of $1500 and a sale price of $1200 (it’s available at United Cellars for a retail price of $3650).

1998 Te Mata Coleraine (tastings) fetched $189, higher than the estimate of $160. I brought three cases when it was released and paid around $35 from memory. I’ve still got a few bottles left. Good investment? Possibly, but you have to deduct the seller’s premium, which I couldn’t find on Fitz-Gerald Wine’s website.

2009 Stonyridge Larose (tastings) went for $110, a bit less than the $140 estimate and a lot less than the retail price of $260 at the vineyard.

I thought that 2001 Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir (tastings) was a bargain at $51 (estimate $80). The current retail price is around $80.

Perusing auction catalogues has whetted my appetite. I’ve now registered with all three auction houses and will almost certainly pick up a few bottles from time to time. It seems to be a buyer’s market … at least until the buyer’s wife finds out.

One thought on “NZ wine auctions – wine for investment”

  1. Jules van Cruysen says:

    Great article Bob, I speak to lots of people who are so excited about how much a certain bottle is going to fetch. I typically suggest that they will get more out of it by drinking it. Based in Wellington I attend the Dunbar Auctions and buy wine from Fitzgeralds from time to time, the only wines that seem to be increasing in value are those that are incredibly rare: Bell Hill, Kusuda, Pyramid Valley Single Block wines. But if you want to find a great bottle of wine at a great price and are not picky (and are not risk adverse) then auctions are a great way to go.

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