Archive for February, 2009

Couriers, shipping and other conundrums

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 by AB

Amongst other day to day tasks, I spend much of my time organising collections from and deliveries to the warehouse we use for consigned lots. This of course comes with the territory and is good news as it mean we’re selling wine. However, a disproportionate amount of time is taken up with couriers who lose or break things – this isn’t a regular occurrence but each time it happens I probably spend 8 hours picking up the pieces (investigating what has occurred, communicating with sellers or buyers, contacting insurance companies etc).

Broken bottles are bad news for everyone. In some cases bottles are irreplaceable which means a rightly upset and irritated customer. In the best case scenario it means an insurance claim which takes time and results in higher premiums in future (couriers recognise their own fallability and refuse to insure anything breakable so we foot the bill).

The real challenge is finding a solution which ensures adequate insurance and minimal breakages whilst keeping the cost as low as possible. I’ve been looking at possible solutions for some while now and have finally come up with a proposal. I should be very interested in what people think about it (you can leave comments via the ‘comments’ box below.

Royal Mail special delivery will cover glass in transit and cover ranges from £500 to £2500. This would allow us to dispatch single bottles packed in dedicated wine boxes at a cost of £14.95 including VAT.

By insuring shipments directly we can now offer shipping for up to 12 bottles at a cost of £17.00 compared to our old rate of £18.50+VAT when shipping via our warehouse.

Lots of over 12 bottles often involve wooden cases or wine in original boxes and where possible we try to keep these intact. This makes it tough to repack into sensible boxes to prevent breakages. In addition, most couriers charge a significant premium for consignments over 25kg (less than the typical weight of a case of 18 bottles plus packaging). We have therefore decided to offer shipping via a dedicated wine courier and this will be charged as follows:

  • 2 Cases £27.60
  • 3 Cases £29.90
  • 4 Cases £32.20
  • 5 Cases £34.50
  • 6 Cases £36.80
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Some news and comments

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 by AB

As mentioned on our homepage and elsewhere on this blog, we’ve a great sale coming up in early March which will feature some top Bordeaux and Port. For those who’d like a truly authoritative view on the wines for sale, Jancis Robinson released some notes on her site yesterday. These can be found on her website under the title ‘Assorted mature clarets’. I should add that we have another excellent private cellar which will shortly be auctioned in 3 portions with the first coming up for sale in the next week or so – so if you’re in the market for some Ridge, Angelus, Trimbach, Noon etc then do keep checking the site!

On a completely unrelated note, I’ve recently received a few questions about auction deadlines which keep changing in the closing minutes. Rest assured, this is a deliberate feature though we’ve been very bad at publicising it (there’s just a brief mention in the help section here). When we first looked at other auction sites out there a recurring theme was the help available for those who don’t want to play fair in the bidding process (just google ‘bidding ebay’ and look at the ads on the right hand side). We therefore decided that any bids entered within the last 2 minutes of an auction should extend the deadline by another 2 minutes which means that only genuine, manual bidders (or anyone with a maximum bid above the current price) can win the auction. I should add that we’ll shortly be making the function explicit with a message saying ‘new bids will extend the auction deadline by 2 minutes’ or something similar.

A pre-sale lunch with Palmer ’61

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2009 by AB

I spent a very pleasant afternoon yesterday in the company of Jancis Robinson, John Stimpfig and Stuart George plus a client and Spenser Hilliard, also of Bid for Wine. We had gathered for lunch at The Ledbury in Notting Hill to taste a range of older clarets selected from two cellars we will be offering for auction on the site in March. All the wines were purchased en primeur and have been in the cellars either since shipping from France or from the cellars of The Wine Society or Berry Brothers and Rudd.

We started off in an unusual direction with 2 older halves, namely Pichon Lalande 1966 (4****) and Ducru Beaucaillou 1970(3***1/2). Surprisingly given the format, both were in good condition though despite a superb claretty nose the Ducru will want drinking reasonably soon as it was showing a touch of astringency. The Pichon Lalande was as elegant and fine as this property’s reputation suggests and was loaded with cedar, plums, perfume and tea notes.

An amuse bouche of Beetroot meringues with goats cheese followed. Very clever and absolutely delicious.

The food proper was, as always, top notch – a spectacular starter of raw marinated shellfish accompanied by a horseradish icecream and dill. This was paired well with a pair of 1996 and 1989 Von Schubert Abtsberg Kabinetts. Regrettably the 1989 was corked.

Crisp Pressed Suckling Pig with Trompettes and Pumpkin were up next. This was paired with 1970 & 1975 Chateau Kirwan. The 1970 (3***1/2) was textbook claret with some tannic grip, a nice minerality and time in hand if one wished to hold. The 1975 (2**1/2)) was a fat wine with a touch of something lactic on the nose alongside some cherry fruit . The creaminess carried through on the palate too and there wasn’t a huge amount of definition or structure. One to drink up relatively soon.
Gruaud Larose 1982
We followed with shoulder of Pyrenean Milk fed Lamb cooked for 24 hours with Truffle Creamed Potato and Buttered Celery. Beautifully succulent meat laced with herbs and swept up in a heady perfume of truffles. Alongside this we drank Leoville Las Cases 1970, Leoville Las Cases 1978 (a half of the latter), Gruaud Larose 1982 and Palmer 1961. The 1970 Las Cases (2**1/2) was backwards and burly with a slightly cheesy, sweaty nose – interesting but not loveable. The 1978 (4****) was however divine with a lovely nose of bitter chocolate, pine and smoke over more classic claret characters. More elegant that the ’70 too. Both wines were in challenging company those given the presence of the highly regarded Gruaud (4****1/2) and legendary Palmer. The former was a dark, quite austere wine – notes of pencil lead, blackcurrant leaf and beef stock – quite tannic too. The Palmer (6******) possessed an incredibly rich, figgy and dense nose. Almost some molasses! Very powerful, rich, elegant and long. Still quite tannic. Very fine. Seems almost Rhone-esque from its build and structure. One of those wines which has a huge reputation to contend with but this was clearly something very special.

Pud was a Brown Sugar Tart with Muscat grapes, white Raisin ice cream and Vin Cotto accompanied by a Quarts de Chaume 1990 from Baumard. As I was deep in conversation I didn’t note this but recall an intensely sweet wine with great minerality and a touch of lime.
The clarets mentioned above will be going up for auction in March along with a selection of Port and other oddments. Details of all the wines from one of the cellars can be found here.