This week a bottle of 1995 California Rosé sold at auction for a winning bid of $37,200.
Go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor. It took me a while to recover from this news myself. As much as I would love to trumpet this sale as the ultimate proof that rosé has finally earned the respect it deserves as a world-class wine, the fact remains that this absurd price merely proves what we all knew already: namely that the fine wine auction market is ridiculously out of touch with reality, not to mention any truth about what wine really means.
The specific wine sold was a bottle of Sine Qua Non's Queen of Hearts, a limited quantity wine produced by oddball winemaker Manfred Krankl. Krankl's idiosyncratic wines are among the most sought-after California wines thanks to a combination of their scarcity and their critical acclaim by critics, in particular Robert M. Parker, Jr.
While Sine Qua Non wines trade at elevated prices on the auction market, sometimes up to more than $2000 per bottle, this particular bottle marks an astronomical apogee for the winery.
Does this sale really represent anything different than a bottle of DRC selling for tens of thousands of dollars? Not really. While this sale price represents an oddity, both for the fact that the wine hails from California, and that on top of that it is a rosé, the reason for the ridiculous price here is the same.
Whoever bought this bottle obviously didn't buy it to drink. It will sit on a shelf somewhere in someone's collection, likely next to a complete set of other Sine Qua Non wines. This bottle was the equivalent of the 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card.
But unlike baseball cards, which have no other value or meaning apart from being collectible, wine has another purpose. I've tasted a bottle of Krankl's rosé, which I recall not caring for very much. But irrespective of how I felt about that wine, or any other Sine Qua Non wines, they are made to be consumed, and achieve whatever potential and intent their maker had in that moment of consumption.
Treating wine as a trophy is sad.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Acid Freaks Unite: Highlights From the 2015 IPOB Tasting Vinography Images: A Brief Oasis Going Dry In California Off to Taste Champagne! Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 5, 2015 Vinography Images: The Color of Spring Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 29, 2015 Vinography Images: Waves of Vines Tempranillo (and Gang) TAPAS Tasting: April 26, San Francisco A Man, An Island, and a Bottle of Grüner: The Wines of Rudi Pichler
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune