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Selling Old Ports

November 22, 2011
Question by: Chris, Epsom, Great Britain

Q:

Further to the question last August re Serafim Cabrals 1970 vintage port, I have a case of 12 bottles of the aforesaid, bought and laid done at the birth of my son in 1975.  He does not appreciate port and would now prefer the money!  Our tastes differ.  How should I best go about selling or auctioning the case, appreciating that you do not specialise in this port?  With thanks in anticipation of a reply.

A:

Hi Chris.  When selling wines, the most important thing is this:  Any auction house, merchant or buyer will want to know how the wine has been stored since purchase, as storage conditions can make or break the quality and saleability of an old wine.  If you can demonstrate (with receipts) that the wine has been in bonded storage, or are prepared to give a buyer a tour of your own cellar to show them the conditions the wine has enjoyed all these years, then you are in a good position. 

Your best bet is to approach the auction houses and top wine merchants in your area for advice on the market and possible value.  Generally the interest is greatest in top vintages from top producers, but very often these people will know of collectors who will be interested in private purchases of off-beat wines, so do make the inquiries!  In the UK, the best auction houses for wines are Bonham's, Christie's and Sotheby's, and you might also approach Berry Brothers and Rudd, who run BBX, an on-line trading service for their customers.

Another alternative is a private sale to a keen port lover, though here of course you are dealing one on one with an individual, so proceed with caution. There are two internet chat forums devoted to Port: The Port Forum, which is UK based, and For The Love of Port, which is based in the USA. Both have a thoroughly international following, however. Registration is free on both sites

On the Port Forum, post your query in the Port Conversations chat room. If you take a look, there are a number of threads like this already posted, with members offering advice re how the wines are drinking, price levels, etc.

On For The Love of Port, go to the chat thread Port & Madeira Marketplace to post your message – and do read the Marketplace Disclaimer notice.

Whichever site you choose, post a full description of the wine, including the exact wording on the label, describe the fill level of the bottles, and include all the information you can about when and where the wine was acquired, and how and where it has been stored. If you have photos, you can post them, or send an email to the moderator asking for assistance, and they will add the photos into the thread.  Interest in buying is usually expressed via the private mail function on each site, rather than publicly in the thread.  Both of these forums are very friendly and helpful places.
 



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