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Premiere Napa Valley 2022 auction sales top $2m

Bidders from the US and beyond have competed for limited-edition wines from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages from leading Napa wineries.

Total sales in the Premiere Napa Valley 2022 auction hit $2.1m, including the buyer’s premium, according to Sotheby’s, which co-hosted the event alongside trade body Napa Valley Vintners.

All 109 lots were ‘one-of-a-kind’ cuvées from leading producers, created specifically for the Premiere Napa Valley 2022 auction. Wines were from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages.

Only trade buyers can take part in the annual sale, but restaurants, retailers and merchants purchasing lots will generally offer the wines to customers at a later date.

Top lot this year was created by winemaker Elias Fernandez at Shafer Vineyards, which was recently sold to Korean group Shinsegae.

A collection of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sunspot block in the heart of Shafer’s Hillside Select vineyard – to be delivered either as 60 bottles or 30 magnums – fetched $75,600, according to Sotheby’s. The 2021-vintage wine won’t be ready for release until October 2024.

Close behind was 240 bottles-worth of Silver Oak ‘Better Together’ from the 2020 vintage, which fetched $70,200.

Also available as 120 magnums, the single-vineyard wine comprises 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

It was one of several lots from the 2020 vintage, a year when some wineries suffered damage in the Glass Fire, and local laboratories worked around the clock to check grape samples for signs of wildfire smoke taint. Producers have always maintained that the Napa 2020 vintage was not wholly lost.

Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) said this week: ‘Vintners making a 2020 Premiere Napa Valley red wine were pleased on Saturday as the average price per bottle was $234, proving that demand exists for high quality, excellent wines made in the most difficult of vintages.’

NVV also highlighted the auction’s reach. ‘Wines sold at the 2022 Premiere Napa Valley wine auction will make their way to 14 states and six countries,’ it said.

A published list on the auction website showed that Harrods, the upmarket UK retailer, was among the non-US buyers. It bought a 60-bottle lot of Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2020, described as a blend of the oldest plantings from the estate vineyard, biodynamically farmed since 2006. Sotheby’s listed the sale price at $41,060.

Online bidders joined those present for the live sale at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

‘Building the reach of Napa Valley is one of our key goals, so we were pleased to see that close to 30% of the buyers placed their bids online,’ said Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine.

Alongside the Premiere auction, Sotheby’s and NVV hosted an online ‘Vintage Perspective’ auction. Also trade-only, it featured cases sourced direct from winery cellars and from vintages spanning 2001 to 2010.

Among the top lots, a 12-bottle case of Safer’s Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and a 24-bottle collection of Inglenook’s Rubicon ‘Red Table Wine’ each sold for $6,480.

Both auctions followed the Napa library wine auction earlier in February, and come as NVV prepares to launch its new ‘Collective Napa Valley’ philanthropy initiative aimed at wine lovers worldwide.

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