Sotheby's Goes into the Wine Business for Itself
Sotheby's knows a thing or two about selling wine. Though, most recently, the auction house made headlines by setting the record for the most expensive bottle of whiskey ever sold, around this time last year, Sotheby's was celebrating claiming the title for "most expensive bottle of wine" after 750-milliliters of 1945 Romanee-Conti went under the hammer for $558,000. Granted, Sotheby's won't be able to command those kinds of prices for its private label wine, but the auction house believes its reputation is strong enough that more casual oenophiles will buy bottles from them: Sotheby's has launched its "Own Label Collection" of wines.
Hearing the head of Sotheby's global wine business Jaime Ritchie explain things, it's surprising this hasn't happened sooner: Clearly they know people in the wine world. "For the last year, we have been working closely with some of our favorite producers, with whom we have teamed up to launch this series of wines, all of which are at attractive prices," he wrote on the Sotheby's Wine website. "The wines are made by producers with whom we have had a long relationship, because we enjoy both the wines and the individual personalities behind them, so naturally many have become good friends."
Sotheby's has produced own label wine before: Their Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($36.95), which is still part of this 12 wine collection, launched back in 2012. But this is the first time the auction house has expanded its wines into an entire range.
The remaining 11 selections in the Sotheby's Own Label Collection range in price from about $17 to $37. They include a Blanc and Rouge Bourgogne ($36.95) (both of which are said to come from a Premier Cru vineyard, though they aren't labeled as such); a Saint-Emilion ($34.95), Haut-Medoc ($24.95) and Pessac-Leognan ($24.95) from Bordeaux; and a Sancerre and a Sancerre Rose (both $22.95), all of which are from France (of course). From Italy, Sotheby's offers a red Langhe Nebbiolo ($24.95) (similar to a Barolo) and a bubbly Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut ($16.95). And from the States, you'll find a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($39.95) and a Sonoma County Chardonnay ($24.95).
The entire collection can be purchased for $325 which saves you about $23.
"Each wine has been selected because it is high quality, very typical of the region and good value for money," Ritchie states. "For example, the Sancerre is a classic Sauvignon Blanc from the region, crisp and fresh with good minerality, while the red and white Burgundies illustrate the best expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Cote de Beaune." And if you don't want to take his word for it, despite the own label, Sotheby's provides information on the producer for all 12 wines.
Admittedly, I haven't tried any of these wines so I can't say if the prices are truly "attractive," but I will say with confidence that they are more affordable than a $558,000 bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti—which is a start.