I love the number 11 and I’ll tell you why. When it represents a shortfall from a full dozen, it implies a difference of opinion that can be a wonderful window of opportunity for a counter-intuitive wine drinker.
I just spent a long day on a transatlantic flight perusing some of the recent wine auction catalogs. In addition to the rarities, big bottles and multiple offerings in "owc" (original wooden cases), I spotted a number of lots that contained exactly 11 bottles of the same wine.
To me, these 11-bottle lots are always a good sign. It says first, that in all likelihood, the wine was originally a whole case, not a roughshod assembly of 11 bottles collected from various places. This is generally good in terms of provenance inasmuch as it speaks to the “seriousness” of the original collector who was probably also the original owner. You might even begin to hope (but not infer) that the wine has been treated and stored well during its time.
The question then remains, why is it for sale?
Well, there can be a whole host of reasons: death, divorce, or even an unseen issue with this particular case of wine. But among all other reasons, I would submit that no reason is more likely than that the original owner opened the case, tasted a bottle and just didn’t find it to his or her liking.
Here is where I see opportunity. As someone who tastes a great deal of wine, I can say with certainty that almost all wines of quality go through phases where they sing and others where they are reticent to share anything at all. I can also say that almost all of these wines come back around and ultimately reach their apogee, share their splendor. Of course this moment is intensely personal—a “best moment” to me may be quite different for someone else. That aside, and assuming the condition is good, now is the moment to buy.
And you will be rewarded. Broken cases almost never fetch as much money as full cases do so you’ll likely save on the front end. Then, when the wine does arrive and after it has a rest, you will be less reticent to try a bottle because the case has already been opened. Here is where your journey and enjoyment begins, and you have the opportunity to savor and learn 11 times over.
Olivier Masmondet — Larchmont, NY — February 12, 2008 8:12am ET
James Suckling — — February 13, 2008 1:12pm ET
Olivier Masmondet — Larchmont, NY — February 13, 2008 2:20pm ET
Jim Nuffield — Toronto — February 13, 2008 10:56pm ET
Derek Cohn — New York, N. Y. — February 14, 2008 12:33pm ET
Dennis-debra Scholl — March 6, 2008 6:27am ET
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