Auctions can be a great place to pick up quality wines at below-retail prices. Take Gaja Sperss, for example. Gaja's wines are staples at auctions, with his single-vineyard wines from the Barbaresco region, such as the Langhe Sorì San Lorenzo, Langhe Sorì Tildin and Langhe Costa Russi, attracting the most attention. The Sperss, his single-vineyard Nebbiolo-based wine from the Barolo region, however, flies below the radar. Nearly every vintage of the Sperss from 1995 onward trades in the auction market below its release price. Only the 1997 (94 points, $135 release price, $402 current auction price) has gained significantly in value, perhaps buoyed by the reputation of the vintage.
The 2000 Sperss (95 points, $225, $130) typically sells at a 30 to 40 percent discount from its release price, never rising above $160. At $130, it currently is trading at its lowest price to date.
The story is similar in other vintages. The 1995 (94 points, $135, $130) and the 1998 (94 points $225 release, $139 current) are trading at 4 percent and 38 percent off their release prices.
The most recent vintages of Sperss, the 2003 (98 points, $215 release) and 2004 (99 points, $255 release), show a jump in quality with the highest scores for the wine yet. When they arrive on the auction market, it will be interesting to see how prices shape up. If the current trend holds form, the 2003 and the 2004 could be found at auction for much better prices than their release. There is the possibility though, that the high quality of the wines will attract increased attention from collectors, putting upward pressure on the auction prices of the Sperss wines as a category.
|This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. This chart shows the average auction prices of Gaja Sperss from 1997, 1998 and 2000.|