Wine, Whiskey and The Web

An even more user-friendly online bidding service about to launch at Sworders of Stansted Mountfitchet should help reveal one of the best-kept secrets of UK salerooms: auctions are an incredibly good way to buy fine wines and whisky.


Take what is widely acknowledged as one of the best wines in the world, and the king of white Burgundies: Puligny-Montrachet. A case of Premiere Cru Les Pucelles, Domaine Leflaive, 2004 would cost you a somewhere between £1500 and £2100 from specialist retailers online, yet Sworders have put an estimate of just £800-1000 on a case for their July 21 Fine Wine & Port sale.

Among an impressive range of Bourdeaux, Burgundy and port on offer at the sale is a rarity on the single malt whisky front. Lot 163 offers two bottles of Glen Mhor, a Highland malt from the distillery that fell victim to Diageo’s cost cutting in 1983. The Whisky Exchange lists a number of early independent bottlings, as well as just four of the far rarer bottlings by the distillery itself.

How scarce is this whisky?

Online blog Malt Madness describes it as having “disappeared from the market”. Maybe a slight exaggeration bearing in mind what the Exchange has to offer, but not far off. Sworders’ lot covers two limited edition releases, one a 25 year old, the other a 1969 single malt. Together they carry hopes of £800-1000.

The Fine Wine and Port sale at the auctioneers’ Stansted Mountfitchet rooms includes a fine array of Grand Cru and first growth wines among its 500 lots. And potentially some real bargains. The star lot is a case of Griottes-Chambertin 1999 that comes with hopes of £5000-6000, while three bottles of the 2003 vintage are on offer at £850-1000.

Eight bottles of Gevrey-Chambertin Premiere Cru Lavaux-Saint-Jacques, Denis Mortet, 1996 carry an estimate of £800-1000, while six bottles of Chateau de Valandraud Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 1991 are guided at £2000-3000.

The sale – one of three dedicated wine auctions at Sworders every year – is timed to take full advantage of Sworders’ new online bidding platform and website, launched at the beginning of July.

For the first time buyers will be able to bid via smartphones or tablets, and the auctioneers have set up a secure online payments system.

They have also cut time wasting by introducing an auction alerts facility tailored to each buyer’s specific interests, so you will only be told in advance about items that you are likely to be interested in bidding on, with the rest filtered out.

“We are always striving to improve the client experience, whether it is in offering a wider range of wines or improving service delivery,” says managing director Guy Schooling.

“We know that in this highly competitive industry you have to stay ahead of the game, and our improved website will help us to do that as we make life easier and more enjoyable for buyers and sellers alike.

“If this helps more people recognise the undoubted merits of buying decent wine at auction – and just how competitively it is priced – then it can only be a good thing.”






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