4 Min Reading

Wines We Do and Don't Buy

When navigating the often unknown waters of selling wine, it is important to keep in mind that not all wines are created as equals, and while it would be quite simple for us to publish a list of specific wines we are looking for, we feel it is far more helpful to actually explain what we are looking for and why.

Are there specific producers or regions that we are seeking out?

Absolutely. While we love to see innovative producers from upcoming or unknown regions, we know that to sell your wines in the quickest and most efficient manner, we have to know our customers. And we do. We know that we have loyal buyers of Classed Growth Bordeauxfrom the 1855 classification on the Left Bank, as well as lovers of the top Right Bank estates – think Pétrus, Pavie, Vieux Château Certan, Angélus (I could go on, but then we’d have a list).

With its myriad of classifications and producers working with tiny plots sometimes scattered throughout the same vineyard, Burgundy can be a real challenge to get to grips with, but learning about the subtle nuances that mark the difference between two plots of land separated by a metre is why we love wine. We will always consider wines with Premier or Grand Cru status, but we always have demand for top-tier producers such as Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Jean Grivot, Ponsot, Armand Rousseau, Dujac, René Engel (and the list goes on).

Other areas of particular interest are the Rhône Valley (think Chapoutier, René Rostaing, Jaboulet), Tuscany (Super Tuscans such as Solaia, Masseto, Ornellaia, Tignanello), and increasingly other fine wines from California and Spain.

How old is too old?

Vintage also plays a vital role in this, and we have taken the decision to only trade in physical vintages from 1982 onwards. After a run of poor vintages in the 1970’s, 1982 was an outstanding year in Bordeaux and also happens to be the year Robert Parker Jr burst onto the scene with his Wine Advocate review.

Unfortunately, counterfeit wines from popular vintages are becoming a serious cause for concern with many wine merchants, brokers and auctions houses being particularly careful about buying older wines. For this reason, we have also decided to steer clear of vintages that would be harder for us to prove the provenance and authenticity of the wine.

Stored in a bonded warehouse?

Condition and storage history is hugely important to us. Our preference will always be to purchase stock that is in the original wooden case (OWC) or cardboard in some instances, and that has been stored in a professional warehouse. Storing in a professional warehouse carries numerous benefits, namely that you don’t need to worry that the wines are too hot/cold, or are exposed to too much sunlight or moisture, factors which can lead to faults and flaws in the wine (raised/dropped corks, bin stained labels, scratches to the labels and capsules). Another major benefit is that the provenance is easily established which, given the prominence of wine forgery in the press over the past few years, provides the customer with peace of mind.

Wine stored in a professional warehouse is also likely to be under bond still, a tax status which means no duty or VAT has been paid or is liable until the wines are removed for consumption or storage at home, and because of this wines under bond are generally more desirable.

What about storing at home?

Of course, we understand that many of our customers choose to store their wines at home in natural or purpose-built wine cellars; they may have had them delivered with the intention of drinking but then changed their mind, or they simply don’t want to pay the storage fees charged by the warehouses. Either way, we are always very happy to consider wines that have been stored at home and are still in the original casing.

Why do we insist on complete cases and not accept individual bottles? The short answer is that with certain exceptions (Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s Romanée Conti for example where cases are very rare), full cases are more desirable: it is full cases that get traded on the market. It is also easier to keep track of the provenance of full cases than a cellar full of loose bottles picked up from here, there and everywhere. Finally, from a consumer’s point of view, buying wine as a full case allows them to follow the evolution of the wine over the course of its life, tasting as the wine matures and mellows with age.

Regardless of where the wine has been stored, all wines that we agree to buy or sell on your behalf undergo condition reporting as soon as they land in our warehouse and before we consider offering them out for sale. All cases are opened, with the bottles removed, inspected, lined up and then photographed to clearly show the labels, fill levels, capsules and packaging by professionally trained staff at our warehouse, LCB Vinothèque. Only once we have reviewed these photographs and are satisfied with the condition do we advertise them to our customers. Wines that do not meet our standards may be rejected or have further discounts applied as they will be harder for us to sell for you. For example: heavily damaged OWC, badly stained or torn labels, raised or dropped corks, damaged capsules, low fill levels and signs of seepage.

Please refer to our Wine Inspection Guidelines for more information.
 
 

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The Author

Jim Baxter

Jim Baxter

Purchasing Manager