Some of Napa's rarest wines are up for sale at the moment – but there's a catch.
Napa wine fans, there's an amazing wine sale going on right now, with 401 unique wines from Premiere Napa Valley auction lots going all the way back to 1996 – and some at great prices.
That's the good news. The bad news is that this is the most annoying wine sale in the history of wine sales. But I am here to help you navigate it, at least a little.
Many big-name and cult wineries are on the list, including Scarecrow, Shafer, Spottswoode, Ovid, Continuum ... I could go on, there are 401 of them. It really is an awesome list of Napa Valley wines. Every Premiere Napa Valley wine is a unique cuvée made for the auction, so these are the rarest of the rare.The promotion is called "Premiere Napa Valley Build Your Collection." It's not exactly a sale, per se; it's a list of links to wines that were originally bought at auction by retailers and restaurateurs, and that haven't yet been sold to consumers like yourself. The links will stay up indefinitely until the wines sell, according to Napa Valley Vintners.
You'd think the big names would have sold already. The major reason that they haven't is that the prices are high. At least 10 of the 401 wines will cost you $1000 a bottle or more. But you could ignore those and focus on the values in this sale, especially in older vintages. At least 12 wines are less than $100 a bottle; at least 46 more wines are between $100 and $150. For PNV wines, those are intriguing prices.
Now comes the major "however". I know these prices because I have an Excel spreadsheet that lists 353 of them, and I am seriously thinking about converting it into an NFT and auctioning it off. There are no prices listed on the website announcing the sale and, for an ordinary consumer, it's just about impossible to see the price list I have. So, DM me on Twitter and make me an offer. (Not kidding.)
Before I got the list, I tried to find out prices the way ordinary consumers would. Each wine has a detailed description on the Premiere Napa Valley website and there is a button for each wine that says "Purchase". I clicked on this button. That's what one does on the internet when one wants to buy something, and usually it leads to a page where you can buy the item. Not for this sale. The "Purchase" button, in most cases, leads to a PDF page that gives you an email address to ask the restaurant or store how much the wine costs.
Imagine that you're in a restaurant, and there's a wine list with 401 wines, and none of them have prices. How the hell would you order? Now further imagine that it takes more than a day to get an answer for every wine you ask about. That's why this is the most annoying wine sale in the history of wine sales.
The paper chase
I sent 16 emails asking about prices to nine different stores. By the following day I had two replies about two wines. I guess I'll get more answers eventually. But now I know there is more than one reason these wines haven't sold.
It's amazing that stores like Total Wine & More, always the biggest buyer at PNV, can't be bothered to list prices. Total has 41 unsold PNV wines and it wouldn't even tell its prices to the Napa Valley Vintners, which is where I got the Excel spreadsheet.
By far the biggest holder of interesting unsold PNV wines is Polo Grill, a restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Polo Grill has 113 wines on this list including high-end names like Alpha Omega, Blankiet Estate, Schrader and Spottswoode. It has not yet responded to my emails asking about price, but at least its prices are on the Excel. (And in fact, if I personally order a wine, my top choices seem to be from Polo Grill.)
While I'm bitching about stores, let me say I now love Gary's Wine & Marketplace, because the "Purchase" button actually takes you to a purchase page, no email required! It's like Gary's actually knows how to sell things! Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits, I love you too! But – because there's a Toto's Opium Dream wine on sale, let me steal from the movie – Willow Park Wine & Spirits in Canada, I think I love you most of all, because the "Purchase" button takes you to a page that shows all 16 of their PNV wines, with prices. Willow Park Wine & Spirits doesn't need a diploma from a wizard; somebody there already has a brain.
Here are a few wines out of the 401 that I find interesting at the price (all AVAs Napa Valley unless otherwise noted). I lean heavily toward the older wines that should be in their prime drinking windows; in most cases they are actually cheaper than newer releases:
* Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $175;
* Etude Vine Hill Ranch Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $190;
* Farella-Park Vineyards "Terrace Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon from 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005. All are $175;
* Schrader "Double Diamond TFA Cuvee" Malbec 2011 $100;
* Groth Vineyards & Winery Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $179;
* St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $179 (also, 2011 vintage, $155);
* Terra Valentine "Phoenix Rising" Spring Mountain District (Bordeaux blend) 2007 $100;
* Anderson's Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 $190;
* There are four vintages of Stonegate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon from 1996-2001. I don't know the winery at all but they're priced from $180 to $205;
* Cardinale Howell Mountain Merlot 2005 $299;
* Keenan Point Vineyard Spring Mountain District Merlot 1998 $125;
* Schweiger Vineyards Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 $205.
The cheapest wine out of all 401 is really interesting: a 2011 Casa Nuestra field blend from a then-80-year-old Oakville vineyard that includes Negrette, Carignan, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Napa Gamay. It's just $45 and at that price I want to try it myself.
Here are the two email replies I received from the 16 I sent: "Hello Blake, The 2014 Shafer Sunspot Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is $2500 each. We have 14 left of the original 60. Thank you for inquiring."
Great wine, but I guess it's harder to sell a $2500 wine than expected. Now here comes the kicker. I asked about the Scarecrow Toto's Opium Dream II Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.
"Dear Wine lover, I have 3 bottles available at the price of $5,500. Shipment not included. As there seems to be great demand for this bottles, please let me know asap as I will sell it to first come first serve."
They have been trying to sell this for seven years, but act now! There's an army of flying monkeys coming for it any second.