Feverish bidding at the 21st annual Premiere Napa Valley barrel tasting and futures auction raised $4.2 million to support the Napa Valley Vintners, a non-profit association devoted to promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation.

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Premiere Napa Valley 2017 raises $4.2 million

Premiere Napa Valley features small lots of unique wines sold exclusively to retailers, restaurateurs and wholesalers.

These special bottlings can be obtained no other way, and every bottle is hand-signed and individually numbered by the winemaker on release.

As usual, a heady atmosphere prevailed, with bursts of cheering and applause punctuating the sale as buyers vied for the most sought-after wines, on Saturday 25th February.

‘The whole week was filled with high energy and we had the chance to share our wines and further build relationships with our partners in the trade,’ said Andy Erickson of Favia Erickson Winegrowers, who along with wife Annie Favia led this year’s event organizing committee.

This year’s total raised was down on 2016, which was $5 million.

This year’s auction, hosted at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in Saint Helena, focused on the 2015 vintage, which accounted for 189 of the 217 lots up for sale this year. And as usual, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties made up the bread-and-butter of the portfolio.

A harvest marked by low yields and drought conditions, the 2015s display early promise: the wines are generally deep and powerful, with firmer structure and more brooding aromatics than the juicy, supple 2014s.

The most expensive lot of the afternoon, however, was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Scarecrow Vineyards, which sold for $200,000: a ripe, heady wine from this cult producer’s Rutherford vineyard, famous for its ancient Cabernet Sauvignon vines.

Throughout the morning’s pre-sale tasting, Scarecrow’s winemaker Celia Welch was surrounded by attendees eager to sample this special old vine bottling, which spent seven more months in barrel than the regular Scarecrow Cabernet.

Other top lots included offerings from Alpha Omega, Arkenstone, Silver Oak Cellars, Robert Mondavi Winery, Honig Vineyard & Winery, Rombauer Vineyards, Shafer Vineyards, a group lot from Arrow&Branch/Caldwell/Covert/Italics wineries, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Dalla Valle Vineyards and Staglin Family Vineyard.

New this year was a greater emphasis on the Premiere Napa Valley Online Auction where 20 per cent of the lots were sold.

Open to trade bidders anywhere in the world, 270 accounts from California to Canada to Japan registered to bid on the 45 lots that were available exclusively online generating nearly $500,000 of the day’s total sales.

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