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Christie's breaks records with Tour d'Argent sale ($6.7 million)

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  1. here's why this makes no sense to me... several of those cases went at over 10,000 pounds per bottle (over $16,000)....

    Let's be generous and say you get 10 glasses of wine out of each bottle, which is a stretch... that's $1,600 per glass.

    Say you have at least 2 glasses with your meal, that's $3,200 for the wine...

    NOW, it never made sense to me to pay more for the wine than the food... I'll pay roughly equal, but both wine and food are needed to create an ethereal meal... not just wine...

    SO, what kind of food would you serve that also costs approximately $3,200 for a total tab of $6,400 ?? The answer is obviously nothing remotely reaches that figure.

    And even this is generous b/c who is going to have just 2 small glasses of wine with their most memorable meal? So make it more realistic, at least 4 glasses of this stuff (4 x $1,600 = 6400 for wine alone) and your per person food tab would need to be around $12,800 to justify that price strictly from the flavor standpoint...

    I wonder if these buyers are interested in a bridge in good condition?

    2 Replies
    1. re: TombstoneShadow

      Here's why it makes PERFECT sense to me . . .

      In the same way that some people are quite content with, say, a Prius -- it gets them to-and-from where they want to go: it's reliable; it's economical -- while others buy a Lamborghini . . . does ANYONE really need a Lamborghini? It only seats two; the gas mileage is $#|+; it's expensive as hell, to buy, to insure, to maintain . . . .

      Some people are quite content with drinking -- for lack of a better term -- "basic wine," whether that's "Two Buck Chuck," Gallo in 3.0L jugs, Kendall-Jackson, or _________ (enter your own example here). I spent a long time working in the wine trade, and I still have friends who think that spending more than $15-20 a bottle (retail) is just plain silly!

      On the other hand, I think spending $1,000+ for a bottle of 2010 Bordeaux is not plain silly; I think it's stupid! It's the laws of supply-and-demand run amok! There is neither rhyme nor reason behind such pricing . . . BUT --

      1. The auction at Christie's was historic, with multiple lots of carefully stored wines and spirits from places like La Tour d'Argent and private, vetted cellars.

      2. I am not wealthy by any means. That said, clearly, a higher level of disposable income is not only essential for purchasing these types of wines and spirits, so too is a passion for wine and spirits (just as one needs a passion for antique cars and a high level of disposable income for one to bid on a 1930 Talbot-Lago). I have the passion, but not the money. Still, there are lots in that auction I *lust* after.

      3. The difference is that many of these lots will NEVER be consumed . . . like a Renoir, Van Gogh, or Picasso, they will be carefully stored away, never to see the light of day until such time as the lot gets auctioned once again! (which, BTW, doesn't make sense to me)

      Me? I'd drink it. And, no, I'm not interested in a bridge. OTOH, I *have* been extraordinarily lucky in my life. I've had -- and enjoyed -- a significant number VERY memorable bottles, including several from the 19th century and, once, even from the 18th.

      Cheers,
      Jason

      1. re: zin1953

        "a higher level of disposable income is not only essential for purchasing these types of wines and spirits, so too is a passion for wine and spirits"

        Exactly. The buyers of these lots are either in the very upper strata of the 1%, or are in some segment of industry that caters to that same strata. For someone with an investment portfolio of $500M that generates a 5% annual return, throwing down $500K on a few cases of what most mortals would classify as unachievable "bucket list" bottles represents a week's worth of dividends. A $20K bottle of wine once a month isn't going to hurt at all under those circumstances.

    2. It's obvious that a high level of income is advisable if you're going to pay $6,400 for a bottle of wine...

      That doesn't mean that it makes any relative gustatory sense at that price.

      I have great passion for wine, but that passion is for the pairing of food and wine b/c (at least for my palate), no matter how etheral the wine or food by itself is, the right pairing is that much more chowish...

      While there were two final bidders pushing this price up in the frenzy of an auction, there were likely 50 or more who didn't find that price reasonable... For the same $6,400 they can have at least 12 full chef's tasting meals at Le Bernardin, (or comparable magnificent restaurant) with wine to match each course!

      That's basically how disproportionate these prices are: one bottle of wine vs. 12 full spread tasting dinners prepared by the world's greatest chefs with matching wine accompaniments chosen by their sommeliers...

      There may be "celebratory" or "prestige" reasons... featurning this wine at a major fundraising dinner for example, or hosting an event to impress select clients or investors, but there's no gustatory justification for these prices that I can see.

      5 Replies
      1. re: TombstoneShadow

        >>> That doesn't mean that it makes any relative gustatory sense at that price. <<<

        Oh, don't be silly . . . who ever said "sense" (be it gustatory or common) plays ANY role in this at all? Does it make sense for a lobster to cost $40+ in a restaurant when you can buy one and make it at home for <$10? Does it makes sense to pay upwards of $50 for a rib-eye (which isn't even "Prime") when I can -- and have -- made it better at home, and for far less money? Oysters on the half shell? Come on . . . .

        Wine pricing hasn't made any sense since the 1980s . . . OK, maybe the 1990s. I can't justify paying the prices asked for ANY classified growth Bordeaux, Premiers or Grands Crus from Burgundy, or (most) top-quality California Cabs, Pinots, Chards -- or almost any variety for that matter.

        But you are expecting logic where there is none (and never has been) to be found. The "frenzy" you're describing among the final two bidders applies to ANY type of auction. After all, when I was auctioning wine, the stock line was, "It takes two to have an auction." But it's not limited to wine. As I mentioned above, it happens with Renoir, Picasso, or Van Gogh (and many more artists I didn't mention). It happens at automobile auctions ("You know how many Priuses [Priii?] I could buy for the cost of that ______________?"), antique auctions, and just about any auction you could name. Logic NEVER applies in that type of situation.

        But, as I said above, at this level most wines (and spirits) will NEVER be opened . . . just re-sold at auction later. And THAT is the key problem: "wine as investment" sent prices soaring to the point where there is no logic to retail prices, let alone auction prices.

        MY problem is that I *would* open them . . . I would jest never pay anywhere near that much for the pleasure.

        1. re: zin1953

          "I would just never pay anywhere near that much for the pleasure."
          Elected officials and professional athletes do, all the time. But they don't realize the price until long after the pleasure.

        2. re: TombstoneShadow

          "I have great passion for wine, but that passion is for the pairing of food and wine b/c (at least for my palate), no matter how etheral the wine or food by itself is, the right pairing is that much more chowish..."

          You have a greater passion for food if the wine being paired with it has to strike an acceptable "chowish QPR". A wine aficionado knows that you pair the food to the wine, no matter what the actual cost or value is of that bottle of fermented grape juice.

          Don't get me wrong - - - I love food like many do here. But short of eating a couple pounds of white truffles from Alba in one sitting, or the Almas variety of Beluga caviar, there are going to be few opportunities where the cost of a meal will ever equal the cost of a bottle of DRC or of Clos D'Ambonnay. And most people who are passionate about fermented grape juice are just fine with that.

          1. re: Eugene Park

            I love this thread!... $16,000 bottles of wine... one small glass costs as much as 3 full chef's tasting dinners at the nation's greatest restaurants with wine/tax/tip... it makes sense, it doesn't make sense... you have to be a 'wine aficianado to understand'... thanks to all... I still have that bridge and some great dutch tulips for sale if you're interested.

            1. re: TombstoneShadow

              Enjoy your tulips. Great QPR with those.

        3. Quote: "Oh, don't be silly, who ever said sense plays any role in this at all"...

          Answer: You did. Quote [Dec. 21] "...this makes PERFECT sense to me..."

          My prior post actually way understated the degree of absurdity of these prices... the subject lot went off at over $16,000 per bottle, not a mere $6,400! That's equal in price to over THIRTY, (count 'em 30), full chef's tasting meals with sommelier-selected wine pairings for each course at Le Bernardin, the French Laundry, Alinea or comparable bastion of haute cuisine.

          For the price of one very short glass of this auctioned wine I could have 3 such full tasting dinners with wine pairings... that's 6 to 9 hours of chowish heaven vs. one short glass of wine... I also spent years in the auction industry (high-end real estate)... these prices are right up there with the Dutch tulip mania.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            English 101?

            a) Yes, well -- MY comment ("Here's why it makes perfect sense to me . . . ") was in direct counterpoint to YOUR comment ("Here's why this makes NO sense to me . . . ").

            b) Yes, well, MY comment ("Oh, don't be silly, who ever said sense plays any role in this at all"...") was in specific response to YOUR comment ("That doesn't mean that it makes any relative gustatory sense at that price"). Indeed, to quote me properly and UNEDITED, you would have had to include what you deleted: "Oh, don't be silly . . . who ever said "sense" (be it gustatory or common) plays ANY role in this at all?" Again, in direct response to YOU . . .

            So, considering -- I'm sure -- we BOTH know what each other is talking about, can we stop the silliness?