Reece Warren’s face lights up when he talks about rare and fine wine, but truly great wines are the sweet spot for the man in charge of the country’s newest wine auction company, Grey Lynn based The Wine Auction Room.
“A truly great wine is one that resonates with the drinker. It may be for the memory it holds or the memory it’s about to create. The great wines of the world are agnostic to price and everything about the value prescribed by the buyer. Which is why wine bought at auction is a great way to understand the market value of that wine at that moment in time.”
The key to wine auction success is to give the buyers the best experiences possible.
“We are creating a fresh approach to specialist wine auctions so that our buyers have confidence when they bid with us. We support our buyers with quality information ranging from the condition of the bottle, photos of the actual bottles on offer (not stock photos), the cellaring conditions as well as scores from reputable critics around the world,” says Reece.
Knowledge and provenance are two essential ingredients in buying wine at auction. Reece has worked in every aspect of the wine industry from growing grapes, working vintage and selling wine to running tastings, auction houses and, now, his own specialist wine auction company.
Reece has dreamed of having a wine auction business ever since he studied the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s highest qualification, the WSET Level 4 Diploma in London, in the early 1990s.
In those days, he regularly attended Christie’s and Sotheby’s wine auctions. He later joined Webbs as the head of its Rare and Fine Wine Department. Setting up his own wine auction company was the obvious next step.
He says any wine or spirit that is in a saleable condition qualifies for auction and while he cannot absolutely verify its storage conditions, storage remains an important aspect of all products he sells. When asked how fussy he is about the storage of the wines he sells: “Very” he says, simply.
“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 the long term. As we can’t visit every cellar, we get wines from, I place a lot of trust in the vendors about their storage and what they tell me in the many questions I ask them about their cellars.”
Wines that sell on The Wine Auction Room’s online auctions include those from New Zealand and further afield. Local classics include Dry River Wines from Martinborough and Te Mata Coleraine from Hawke’s Bay, both of which fetch high prices and a strong following on The Wine Auction Room’s online wine auctions, which suggest that auctions can build up a strong following for relatively new brands in the global wine picture.
One of the myths he would like to dispel about buying wine at auction is the question of age. “Just because it’s old, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. If a wine tasted dodgy back in the 1970s, then it’s not necessarily going to taste any better now. The wines we sell need to be good to start off with, irrespective
Reece is no stranger to the great wines of the world - the most expensive bottle he has ever sold was an imperial (six litre bottle) of Chateau Haut Brion - but his key to selling wine online via The Wine Auction Room, is to deliver great taste experiences for an affordable price.
“Accessibility is key - we want to give all our customers a great experience to turn them onto great wines at prices they can afford, no matter what their budget. Many believe that wine auctions are just for wines that are expensive or unobtainable, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are often well priced wines and many everyday wines that have often been cellared and are ready for drinking now. They offer great value for an interesting drink at an attractive price - an experience that you couldn’t find elsewhere,” says Reece.
One such example was a wine in The Wine Auction Room’s June auction this year. Its reserve was $16 while its recommended retail price was about $30. Such a wine has strong appeal to a wide range of wine lovers while other wines have average global price tags of $3650 and reserve prices of just $2000 at auction, which can make collectible bottles very attractive to collectors of high-priced bottles.
One of the key features that sets The Wine Auction Room apart from its competitors in the New Zealand market is its offer of gift certificates. The perfect gift for experienced and novice wine enthusiasts that enables the recipient the opportunity to purchase
a wide range of collectible wines. “Our online platform is easy to navigate and makes bidding easy, without needing to turn up at a definite time and place.”
Its doors may be metaphorical but if you’re up for a chat about wine, the country’s new wineauctionroom.com is the place to go, either on a virtual buying tour or in person by meeting owner Reece Warren, the man behind the wineauctionroom.com
The Wine Auction Room has a physical office in Grey Lynn, and an online one here: www.wineauctionroom.com