Monday, April 27, 2015

Have you ever attended a Wine Auction? by Philip S. Kampe

         CEO and Auctioneer John Kapon heads the Acker Merrall and Condit auction team

It was early Saturday morning.
I was wide awake and invigorated well before 6am.

Maybe it was the excitement of attending an Acker Merrall & Condit “Wine Auction” that got the better of me.  I was anticipating where I would be in four hours.

The plan was simple, I would meet Ron Kapon, a relative of the venerable Acker Merrall CEO and chief auctioneer, John Kapon., at the auction site, Michelin starred Marea restaurant on Central Park South in Manhattan. We would sit together, as both friends and journalists, and survey the situation. This was new for me and commonplace for Ron. He was a veteran of wine auctions, as most Kapon family members are.

I arrived early and was presented with Paddle 55, after a brief check that my credit card information was valid. I am a veteran of country auctions, where price tags rarely go into the thousands.

This auction was different.
Each wine is sold in a lot, either singly or by multiples of bottles. The estimated price range was always posted for each lot. If an opening bid was too low or did not exist, the lot would be passed over.

Ron Kapon arrived and joined me at the table. The waiters poured water as we chatted. I only had two hours to devote to the auction, as I had previous plans that could not be broken. If there is a next time, I will stay for lunch ($95) and bring a bottle of wine for the table (that is customary, according to Ron).

The lots were selling at a fast pace, as we talked. Ron explained his relatives philosophy regarding wine. John believes that you should buy the best and invest in top brands. The producers name is the key to success in long term investing. Some of the famous producers include Petrus, Latour, Lafite, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Giacosa and Screaming Eagle. Ron went on to say that the general rule is to buy bottles to drink and cases to put away. Known as OWC’s, original wood cases add value for long-term investors. Magnums of great wines are great investments.

According to Ron, CEO John Kapon stresses that temperature control is essential for storing wines. The less the movement of the bottles, the better.
                                                             My paddle, # 55

In a nutshell, Ron gave me a Wine Auction 101 briefing.

In observing the auctioneers, I noticed that each auctioneer was responsible for a certain number of lots to sell. The first auctioneer was Samantha Compono, a quick witted, intelligent and obviously caring auctioneer, who made the crowd comfortable with each of the first 140 lots that she sold. Samantha was followed by Truly Hardy, who was the set-up man for the final auctioneer, John Kapon.
The auction barely started and it was time for me to go and dream about the next Acker Merrall & Condit auction in New York.

Maybe paddle 55 will be active in the future?

To learn more about the wine auction at Acker Merrall and Condit, visit

Philip S. Kampe

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