Wine Talk

Snooth User: drayneo

I need some help pricing and selling some old bottles of wine that have fallen into my hands

Posted by drayneo, Nov 17, 2011.


So a friend of ours has some family tie-ins or something and isn't in very good health and has some things she has asked my family to sell, one of those things being some really old bottles of wine. Nobody in my family is a wine drinker at all so we couldn't know less about how to deal with it.

I think these bottles are worth something...we only have 2 bottles for now but supposedly this friend has an entire case she's just had in her garage, which brings me to the next point. Since these wines haven't been stored properly, i'm 99% sure the wine isn't drinkable.

The wines themselves are Carruades. The two bottles we have just to test the waters in selling them are from 1961 and 1967. They're both in fairly good condition as far as the bottles themselves go, but like i've said, it's not like they've been properly stored so i think the wine inside is bad.

Here's some pictures of each bottle for reference on condition. I really need some good help on how i should go about selling these and the process after that (be it if i should just empty the bottles and sell the bottles or somehow try to figure out how to ship them via someone with a license to do so or something else)

Anyways, pictures:




Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


Reply by dmcker, Nov 17, 2011.

Carruades is, as you likely know, the second label of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, a first growth in Bordeaux that recently demands ridiculously high prices for its offerings even upon first release, not only from great past vintages, and is one of the most expensive wines on earth. Many of the best Bordeaux chateaux have second labels, some very good wine as worthy of standing on their own as the first wines of other chateaux, but some not so special. I'm personally a fan of Les Forts de Latour, the second label of Chateau Latour, also a first growth.

1961 was a great vintage, one of the best of the 20th century, and bottles of Lafite stored properly should still be fine. 1967 not so great. A '61 Lafite (first label) from recognized, provable provenance, in good condition, could command a price in the middle thousands of dollars per bottle.

Your problems here are a) the questionable provenance, b) the fact that you're working with the second label, and c) the iffy '67 portion of the lot. I haven't had any Carruades from that era in the past 20 or more years, and though it's reasonable to expect that they're probably well made wine, I'd hesitate to hazard a guess about how well they age compared to the first label.

The condition of the bottles, and levels in the bottle, in your photos look quite reasonable for wines of that age. 

You could take a number of approaches with the wine. Usually I recommend that people gift wine from such a finding in ways that will make special friends or acquaintances happy, or drink it themselves with friends or family on some special occasion. It seems, though, that some sort of financial gain is the main concern. If there truly is a case (of each vintage, or combined of both?) volume of the wine, I'd be tempted to open the two you have and taste them to clarify their condition. Or bring some resterauteurs or collectors together and pour for them, offering them a chance to bid on the remainder. Of course you can go through online auctioneers or merchants specializing in purchased cellar reselling, too. Other threads in this forum have recommended several such candidates.

Let's see what others here have to say....

Reply by drayneo, Nov 17, 2011.

Yeah, we're looking mostly for the financial gain. My family and our friend who provided us with the wine are all religious in such a way that none of us drink; the wines were just a gift to our friend from a while ago and now recently my family is unemployed, and our friend is battling with Multiple sclerosis, so both sides need the money from selling this assortment of vintage wines and other such things. Our friend is in no condition to go about selling her things, so she offered we split the profit if my family can go about selling them.

Also like i said, i'm not sure if the wine is drinkable. It's been stored in a box very carefully, not in a wine cooler or any sort of /appropriate/ sort of storage. The bottles themselves were well taken care of without a dent, scrach, chip, and hardly any label damage. But i'm still unsure the wine itself is in drinkable condition after years of being stored in a box stored away in a garage.

We have a winery here in town (i live in morgan hill, california) and i was thinking of maybe taking a few bottles there to get an opinion. I also got a suggestion from the wine subreddit that i could look into a local auction, which would be an easy task since we are already looking into such a thing for a collection of Pochoirs our friend has provided us to sell as well.

Thanks for your input.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 17, 2011.

If there's a case, I would consider opening one to see what the condition is. I'd have someone knowledgeable on hand to assess the wine, preferably someone who would be helpful in auctioning the wines.  I'd also (if the condition is good) auction them through a wine auction specialist.  You aren't that far from K&L in Redwood City, so I would consider contacting them.  They are also well connected in Bordeaux and have lots of Bord lovers as customers, so they seem like a pretty good place to start.

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