Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Genius or insanity? Rimmerman's "German Cellar"

Original post by Richard Foxall, Sep 14, 2012.

Just got this from Garagiste, and have all sorts of weird thoughts.  Like, is this for real?  But more importantly, will Rimmerman succeed in keeping this from going to auction, or is he just rewarding a lucky few who will turn around and sell the most valuable bottles, while others will have overpaid for who-knows-what?  Would it really be worse if these sat in some billionaires basement? (Which, if this was all its cracked up to be, it would have been kept whole and sold to a serious collector, don'tcha think?) After all, it's not like the masses who buy his $10 Creve Couer Cotes du Rhone and his sub-$30 Chateauneuf (that would be me) are going to buy a three bottle pig-in-a-poke for almost $100 per bottle, so it's not exactly democratizing wine all that much.  (Now, if he said, look, I guarantee that you'll get one bottle of a first growth Bord from a good vintage and the rest could be junk, I'd probably bite.

Finally, as my friend asked, Nazi wine anyone?

The German Cellar: 1864-1988

Dear Friends,

This is one of the most important treasure troves of wine I’ve come across in my career and I still can’t believe something like this exists – undiscovered and held in slumber for so many years.

Collected and stored by the same family for generations and held in the catacombs under Europe for decades, this piece of history has been through two world wars, the advent of electricity, motor cars, the Atomic Age, Rock and Roll, an so on. Decades and trends have come and gone in the world above its dark and dank respite but its day of discovery was going to come eventually and today is that day.

Introduced to me by an individual that knew I would care for it with the utmost sensitivity (instead of sending it to auction where it most certainly would have been one of the highlights of the 2012 circuit and a sure cover story for most), this parcel of fine German (and Alsatian) wine defies all logic. 

With bottles dating back to 1864, a prominent German collector I’ve known for many years claims it is potentially the most interesting (and valuable) collection of Germanic wine he has ever seen...but monetary value is not necessarily why we do this.

After inspecting the entire parcel, I'm not sure if the wine itself or several of the incredible original wooden cases with untouched/intact grass and straw are more alluring or more valuable to a collector of historic memorabilia (I’ll post a few photos of the WWII cases, in German “ammunition” 2 x 4’s on our twitter feed this afternoon, Garagiste_Wine ) - the cases are not for sale, they will be donated to a museum or preservation institute.

Ok, all of the above is tantalizing but I'm sure you want or know how you can get your eager mitts on a few of the treasures?

The long and short of your involvement goes something like this: 

• There are so many wines and so many different producers (nearly 100 different producers - many in single bottle lots), there is no way to divide the parcel into any rhyme or reason unless it is done in a random fashion (many of the wineries are undocumented or long extinct - which may make some of the bottles even more valuable). I’ve also spent a large amount of time attempting to divide the bottles into “equal worth” 3-pack sets but it is also an impossibility.

• The range spreads the entire gamut – from dry to Kabinett to Beerenauslese to Eiswein with the deepest part of the collection from 1930-1976. The bonus is that the family spent several decades collecting Alsatian wine as well – most from the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s – that parcel has also been included here and will be lumped into the 3-packs (old Alsatian wine is even more difficult to come by than German wine – it just isn’t found in this quantity with 40-60 years of age, in fact, I have never seen a parcel like this, not even once).  Keep in mind this lot has been at rest for so many years, many labels are tattered and have disintegrated long ago but corks don't lie – they still tell the tale of producer and vintage (in most cases). Ullage is all over the map but I will try to separate the best bottles from those that have lower ullage and not include the lowest in this parcel. In other words, this is a real cellar – the bottles and corks may look old and ugly but the dirt and debris that accompanies them is part of their allure.

• The only fair way to do this is to put everything in a huge group and pull three bottles at at a time, from different corners of the room, and pack them into individual 3-pack time capsules (my guess is that each 3-pack will be unique – unlike any other). Yes, it’s possible for you to receive 3 bottles of 1988 Kabinett but I doubt that will happen - actually, I will make sure that doesn't happen. In essence, there’s no guarantee you will receive a certain wine but this is an opportunity to relish in the experience not in what you didn’t receive – if nothing else, I'm sure most of the packs will have something from the 1970’s, 1960’s and 1950’s...not to mention the 1940’s, 1930’s and 1920’s.

• In the sprit of the community and as a chance to give back to all of you, instead of going for broke at $800-1000/3-pack (more than fair in my opinion), I will do the opposite - $268.70 per random 3-pack, even if it includes an 1864 (which most certainly is worth thousands on its own, $5000-10,000 per bottle? Even the 1940’s and 1950’s examples are worth hundreds per bottle – some of the Eiswein and TBA from WWII is priceless in my opinion).

• My only caveat is this: please share and enjoy your three bottles – DO NOT SEND THEM TO AUCTION (I could have done that and it would have been much easier and less effort), especially if you receive one of the pre-1900 bottles. Please take this opportunity to experience a sliver of history – my hope is that it is worth more than any monetary gain you could realize.

• I have tried a number of the bottles (they were difficult for me to open in an emotional sense, I almost felt bad) and they are indeed in fantastic condition.

Ok, big deep breath...

Here goes...

EXTREMELY LIMITED – 1 x 3-pack/person until we run out...

The German Cellar 3-Pack - $268.70

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Reply by jackwerickson, Sep 26, 2012.

I live in Texas and he does not charge taxes don't  know how much longer he will be able to get away with  it. I received  six cases last year and the  fed ex charge $50 . We now have added three new wine stores in Dallas Total Wines Specs and Trader Joes . We have a big problem in Texas of buying wine from out of state unless it is directly from the winery. Have spent two days trying to buy Uccelleria Brunello if I can someone who has they will not ship to Texas.

Reply by Mike Madaio, Oct 1, 2012.

Incidentally, I bought the 4-pack of Puglian olive oil that he had on offer recently. I've only opened the first bottle, but it is absolutely stunning. Wish I ordered more.

Also, I didn't have to order a case of wine to have it shipped ;o)

Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 3, 2012.

JD - Let me know if you come up to Seattle to pick up your wine.  It would be great to meet up and share some wine.

I have spent quite a few dollars on "Wine of a Lifetime" from Garagiste.  It has been a good way to explore wine from all over the world.  But, it sure is easy to sucked into all the descriptions of the next greatest wine ever... 

i am doing much better at reading the copy for entertainment and then deleting the emails.  With that said,  I do have a couple cases waiting to be collected.  If you come up to Seattle we should make a combined visit and open a couple of bottles.


Reply by JonDerry, Oct 4, 2012.

Will do Lucha, and likewise If you ever find yourself in the LA area. though the odds are looking slim that I'll make it up your way anytime soon I really would like to. any experience with Rasa? Have heard a lot about them. As for those Rimmerman shipments, still waiting but it's been too hot lately anyway.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 4, 2012.

I haven't tasted the Rasa wines myself.  They are more in my "splurge" price range, so I have not pulled the trigger on any of their stuff - yet.  I hear lots of good things and Sean Sullivan rates them highly.  Here is a recent set of reviews from Sean.

And I get charged sales tax on my purchases from Garagiste and Full Pull.  Most likely since I am in Washington where their businesses are located.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 5, 2012.

And he's at it again:  Today JR offers the "Burgundy winery" grab bag at $69.81 a bottle, under the Mystery Wine rubric.  Guess we all have to wait for the shipping season to see how this and the German cellar worked out...

What I can tell you:

• You will get to see the exact label, cork, bottle as what is on store shelves as I type this.

• This offer is not a pre-arrival – the entire parcel has just arrive in port and will ship this season.

• To alleviate hair pulling, ire and general threats to the winery of “I will never support your wine again” by wholesalers and retailers, this is a random parcel of three Grand Cru red Burgundy wines – all from the same winery but different vintages and vineyards.

• They will be packed at random for you – all three are the same tariff - $69.81. By offering the wine in this fashion, the $69+ price isn’t really “official” (except for all of us, of course). If you order one bottle, you’ll receive one out of the three, if you order 3, 6, 12, 24, etc, chances are pretty good you’ll receive some equation of all three (not guaranteed but more than likely).

• All three are from the Cote de Nuits

• All are from Grand Cru sites noteworthy for ageing

• Vintages are random but none are from 2003, 2004 or 2009.

• The winery is small and highly thought of – not one of the big houses

• All are critically acclaimed from Burghound (no sub 90 reviews/scores) - the winery tried to include examples of equal worth regardless of vintage or vineyard so it will not matter what you receive – they want you to be happy (the winery put a lot of thought into this).

• The $69+ price is lower than the wholesale price in Europe as posted by FinestWine

• All should cellar beautifully with an emphasis on finesse, elegance and, well, mystery – this is not Syrah in a Burgundy bottle.

• The lowest US price I can find on any of them (from discounters) begins at $120-130 and goes up to $175 but that’s with typical provenance, not with this level of pristine cellar history.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 5, 2012.

Anybody go for this offer?  I am willing to go for the $20 and under Mystery Wines, but 70 bucks a pop is off my intrigue meter!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 6, 2012.

I second that, Lucha.  Although I think he would be really crazy to say that they retail for so much more and then completely fleece you.  I actually think he was unfairly chastised for the Dois Irmaos thing--so it wasn't good wine, but it might well have been exactly as described--but I'm just kind of done with the endless hype, the florid prose (someone get him an editor!), the typos and misuse of words, and, mostly, the inconsistent wine. Oh, and the shipping costs, which once again he claims to have ameliorated--he's not charging for the boxes!-- but that are never predictable. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 29, 2012.

This might take the cake:

2001 Dugat-Py “Chambertin” Grand Cru - $1260.40 (IWC94-97)
One of the rarest examples in Burgundy – this pristine parcel is directly from Bernard Dugat’s cellar:

Tanzer: “(from 78-year-old vines planted at a very dense 13,000 vines per hectare; Dugat has just a 200- and a 114-liter barrel of this stuff) Deep, saturated ruby. Cool, vibrant aromas of crystallized blueberry, blackberry, minerals, mocha and bitter chocolate. The suavest of these 2001s, with the powerful black fruit and licorice flavors showing a seamless fullness thanks to perfectly integrated acids. This extremely youthful wine boasts terrific verve and a lightness of touch. Dugat says it will round out further in barrel. Vinified entirely with whole clusters, with the pigeages done by foot. 94-97pts”

What's $1260 when the pigeages are done by foot? You want natural wine, you gotta pay for that kind of commitment! (Yes, I know Tanzer wrote that, but JR is hyping it.)

He also deserves points for keeping wineries with really ugly labels in business.  Any correlation between wine quality and label beauty, positive or negative, is purely coincidental.  But no one else but JR will touch them.  (And OT--the Halcon is great wine, but the label is nothing to write home about.)

That said, my fall shipment arrived, including the odd-lot of a couple bottles, and the shipping was much more reasonable, close to $2 a bottle.  Still, I'm done with Garagiste... unless he offers more Huet at those prices... or a mystery wine that seems to be DRC at a double digit price...

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 29, 2012.

Thought the same Fox...

On the other hand, the Cava offer today sounded a bit better. Tried to search TN's on CT but couldn't get very far, closest I could make out though weren't that great. Another pass, but good to see the shipping costs have come down to earth a bit, looks like a little less than $2/bottle. With all the volume they do, you'd think they'd get some darn good rates.

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 8, 2012.

1st feedback from the "German Cellar" is resoundingly negative.

Someone on CT got in a haul valued at around $200.00, though the bottles he received came in poor condition. Sounds about right, honestly. Maybe someone gets lucky, but selling lottery tickets like this when it was described as basically charity (could have been easier at auction) is pretty crooked.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 8, 2012.

What a coincidence. Today's offer was Casal de Arman Ribeiro, which I bought previously from JR. None of the vintages he sold are in their drinking window yet according to him, what a shock, and I am giving him the benefit of waiting for the drinking window. I thought I would have been tempted before--he calls the C d Arman life-changing but doesn't mention its community notes on CT, which he relies on when they are favorable and there are two or more.  Probably better not to mention them when, as here, they are a shade above 88, on average, with some unscored reviews that are less flattering.  Instead, I thought, "Gee, I am so glad that I convinced them to ship everything that they were holding, so I don't try again to round out any cases."  Maybe, when the Huets, Casal de Armans, Vieux Telegraphes, and everything else have entered their drinking windows, if they all thrill me to pieces, I'll be back.

But after seeing this, I doubt it. 

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 27, 2013.

Well my second case just arrived, of course I haven't bought anything for close to a year, but still real nice of them to ship another case of wine I bought last Spring, didn't even need to needle them this time. 

So I have 8 bottles pending about, and though I still skim most of the offers, it's funny how I'm not even close to pulling the trigger anymore. There's so many options out there, and kind of like if you can see through the preaching and the sales pitch, there's not much need to go to church anymore.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 27, 2013.

Nicely put. 

Funny thing is, I actually like the wine porn from Wine Access better, at least for now.  In general my need for overwrought descriptions of wine has been waning, in proportion to the space available for more bottles. and while I'm certainly not running out of things I want to try,  I'm reaching the point in life that I wish I had more time for the people I already know and like, and am more eager to savor the wines in my current hoard--alas, the windows for so many have still not opened. So, between that and general disappointment in JR's practices, he loses my measly few hundred a year.  I'd still count the Telegraphe CdP, Ramey, and Conterno Barolo as good values, but seems like those deals are increasingly rare.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 19, 2013.

Had to laugh at today's missive, comparing himself (garagiste) to a record label...

If you enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon and its myriad of incarnations, this magnetic new stone will be a prized discovery at your dinner table - one you will be proud to share with the most astute of plates and guests. As the “Sub Pop records of the wine trade” (not my words) we often sign vinous indie bands to demo deals that result in a 4-5 song recording so strong, the result is only a moment away from a major label A & R rep sweeping them off their foot trodden feet. Case in point - I can't imagine this Shins-like entity going unnoticed for much least we have one cellar-direct vintage (sorry, album) at a terrific tariff...

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 19, 2013.

JD, this is especially funny considering our brief conversation about my idea for a post comparing your favorite rock stars to wines.  (Tom Petty = CdR or some Vin da Tavola, Dylan is Burgundy, sometimes great, often inscrutable; Leonard Cohen is Cru Classe Burgundy, never bad, often brilliant...)

So will the threads about Rimmerman elsewhere trash him if the wine is less like the Shins and more like Bruno Mars?  Or, worse, Justin Bieber?

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