Reece Warren, founder of the new Wine Auction Room in Auckland
Its doors might be metaphorical, unless you’re up for a chat about where and how your wine is stored, but the country’s new wineauctionroom.com has opened business. Owner Reece Warren is the man behind the wineauctionroom.com…
The Wine Auction Room opened for business on 1 February 2018. Its first auction was in April online.
Joelle Thomson (JT): Whose idea was it to start a new wine auction business in New Zealand?
Reece Warren (RW): Since studying for my WSET Diploma in London in the early 1990s and going to Christies and Sotherby’s wine auctions it was always something I wanted to do. I had the opportunity to join Webb’s as Head of Rare and Fine Wine a couple of years ago and loved my job there. Unfortunately our parent company (Mossgreen in Australia) went into liquidation at the end of last year and Webb’s was liquidated as well even though we had been trading well. So the New Year was greeted with a loss of my dream job. There were a few options on the table for me but after lengthy discussions with my wife we came to this. I’ve loved my career in the very passionate wine industry but had I not started my own auction house I would have left the industry.
JT: What types of wines are you looking for to sell?
RW: Any wine or spirit that is in a saleable condition. Many believe the wine auctions that we hold are just for wines that are expensive or unobtainable but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are often bargains and many everyday wines available that have often been cellared and are ready for drinking or can be cellared longer. As an example in the current online auction (June) the lowest reserve is $16, for a wine that retails at $30, and the highest reserve is $2000, for a wine that has an average price around the world at present of $3650. It is also a great opportunity to find that special vintage for a birthday or celebration that may have left the retail environment.
JT: How fussy are you about the storage conditions of the wines that you sell?
RW: So fussy. This is one of the most important aspects of my job. You can never tell what is in the bottle as it is sealed but we can make sure that the wine has been stored in a way that is suitable for storing wines for the long term. As we can’t visit every cellar we get wines from I place a lot of trust with the vendors about their storage and what they tell me in the many questions I ask them about their cellars. People who can’t answer these questions generally don’t know how to cellar wine correctly. I do turn down wines if I don’t believe they have been stored well and I have sent wines back to the vendor and refused to auction them.
JT: Where is the Wine Auction Room and can wine lovers visit?
RW: The Wine Auction Room is in Grey Lynn. I have an office very close to our temperature controlled storage. There’s not much to see but me and a lot of wine books/magazines but I welcome anyone in for a conversation (or a glass!) as I’m a wine lover too so chatting about wine is my happy place.
JT: How often do you hold wine auctions?
RW: Looking to hold auctions monthly as either online or live. There will be no auction in July as I’m looking forward to learning about the many different varieties in Greece and Croatia while travelling there.
JT: How do wine collectors submit wine to you for auction?
RW: Give me call or send me an email and we can discuss what you have. (021 465 554 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
JT: What’s the best wine you’ve ever had to auction?
RW: This is so hard to answer. The most expensive bottle I’ve sold was an imperial (six litre bottle) of Chateau Haut Brion. The best wines are those that give the buyer the best experience. A recent purchase of mine from the last auction was a couple of bottles of 2005 Tardieu-Laurent Vieilles Vignes Cornas at $50 + Fees (our fees are 17.5% + GST of the hammer price so these cost me $60.06 each) – it was fantastic and far cheaper than the current vintage in retail. The best part was that it has turned a friend who is a Barossa Shiraz man onto the virtues of the wonderful wines from the Rhone.
JT: What was the worst?
RW: Wines that don’t make it to auction. I’ve had many people who have got a bottle of something dodgy from the 1970s they want to auction. The wines were never any good back then and they certainly aren’t any better now. Just because it is old, it isn’t necessarily good. The most upsetting consignment was a case of Chateau Haut Brion from a relatively recent vintage that hadn’t been stored well, had begun to leak and become very expensive vinegar. That was sent back to the vendor with advice on how to cellar his wines.