Zachys 'No Reserve' Auction

Pretty cool concept, actually - sort of old school, when one could find some deals at auctions, unlike now where auctions are mostly just super high end stuff that sells for record prices EVERY SINGLE AUCTION.,G5NR,31RM3X,1Q4NG,1

Zachys is pleased to open The No Reserve Auction, a single owner cellar sourced from Los Angeles’ First The Wine. Long a destination for seasoned collectors, First the Wine is transitioning to specialized retail and bespoke wine experiences for a roster of private clients. As such, they are generously offering up the balance of wines from their refrigerated retail floor for collectors here, and all at NO RESERVE.

This listing highlights up and coming producers from Champagne, Burgundy, Piedmont, and other wines that would be welcome additions to any dinner table, often with a few years of bottle age.


Don’t worry, reserve or not, I am sure there will be few bargains to be found. neener

I wish there were auctions like this more often (though my credit cards would likely burst into flames). Lots and lots of good but not ultra high end bottles here. Sure, it may get crazy. But I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these lots slide through at decent prices because producers like these don’t show up in auctions very often. The high end bidders won’t be interested and the rest of us might not bother to look because the auction market is usually dominated by the big names.

The champagne list is kind of like that. Some good stuff with good prices, but most of it isn’t what trophy hunters of really monied collectors would be after. But I’d be happy with a cheap case of Jacquesson or Marie Courtin or any number of other good growers in the auction. I mean, uh, Roederer Brut Premier, uh, piss off.

Thankfully, all of the Puffeney had been freed from that establishment prior to this auction. Fair pricing, too.


FWIW, it should be safe bidding as far as auction goes, as they are collected to a wine storage facility.

Honestly, I am convinced that consignors would net out far better in the aggregate this way.

Oh, and it’s from First the Wine. About two years ago, they had a very good sale on Burgundy (mostly) - stuff you had to do a little research on, mostly minor-key names, but a lot of it excellent and somewhat under the radar (Confuron-Cotetidot, Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Pillot’s Chassagne rouges), some of it stuff that was semi-discovered at the time (Duroche, Chandon de Briailles). All the bottles I’ve tried have been excellent.

Almost every time we offer lots with no reserves, the lots net more than they would have with reserves. But consignors are scared and want a safety net, so it is rare for it to happen. I hope this sale goes well so we can use it as evidence that ‘no reserves’ hook the buyers in and mentally commit them to continue bidding on the lot.

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Funny - I buy and sell comic artwork through HA all the time, never a reserve – in fact the auctions with reserves in that category are incredibly rare. (Everyone bid on the Krazy Kat I consigned for the January auction! No reserve!)

Every department is different, as you have to compete with what everyone else is doing. We’d lose a ton of consignments to other houses if we demanded no reserves for wine. In this kind of market though, there is so much upside to no reserves.

I’d like to think I can resist the mental commitment trap, but it definitely got me to click, scroll through all the lots, and watch-list a bunch, which is more than I do for 90% of their auctions.

At the end of the day, if they have an audience there shouldn’t be many bargains left because it’s just one of many paths to realizing the market price. No-reserve auctions are a sign of confidence they have the audience, without which nobody should/would be consigning to them anyway

Admittedly, I’ve done it as well. Nobody likes to “lose” and it’s tough getting that email or text that you’ve been outbid. It’s basic psychology. We can justify to ourselves, “What’s another $20 ($50? $100?, etc.)?” Most of the houses have a good range of buyers. The brokers shop at all of them. When the market is this strong, there is very little risk to no reserves.

As a potential consignor, what is the advantage of “no-reserve”?

I know with car auctions the sellers vig is much lower selling no-reserve rather than with a reserve, but in the wine world I’ve never seen better terms if you consigned no-reserve vs reserve. Frankly, as a seller *if it were high-dollar items I would always have a reserve I was comfortable with. There are plenty of wines that fall through the cracks at an auction and I’d prefer mine wasn’t one of them if I was a seller. I’ve seen auctioneers quiet the room and talk up the wine in order to get a few more bids to hit reserve, if it were no reserve I suspect the gavel would fall much faster just to move through the lots faster.

I think it is an interesting discussion, and I’d like to hear how you think the consignor would make out better. Assume we are talking about bottles that are $500+ per just to frame the conversation.


I think no reserves might be better for lower-value or more rare wines. Highly traded wines such a Lafite, Harlan, etc. are going to fetch the market price no matter what. But with wines that are fairly rare such as Jayer or Roumier, doing no reserves would help mentally commit more buyers to a lot, driving up the bids. With lower-value wines, I think it would work similarly, as lower-value wines often attract bargain hunters who will put in low bids to start with but may feel the need to continue bidding when they get that outbid notification.

You do mention a good point about no reserves making an auction last longer, which can be problematic as well. Some buyers might get bored and decide to leave the auction when things drag on too long. This might be less of an issue with online-only sales.

The clients buying Roumier and DRC know what the last price paid, and what the relative state of the market price for each is.

But why would you want to sell someone what a 2002 Beckstoffer To Kalon Cab from some non-top tier producer would sell for by creating the range? I think ranges limit what people THINK they should spent. No reserve and no estimate? People would over pay all the time for sure.

I find it funny when people say “did you see lot XXX sell for over the high estimate?” The high estimate is just a formulaic percentage over the low estimate, which is the relative market value.

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Fun auction, doubt (maybe hope?) none of my bids will hold up, but love seeing lots of Champagne, Loire whites, and Cote-Rotie in the mix.

Todd, thanks for pointing this out. I haven’t bid on any kind of auction in years. I actually won a couple of things in this one, at reasonable prices, and I’m really happy that I will have them.

Absolutely! I knew many of us might benefit from it [cheers.gif]

Yeah, thanks Todd. Fortunately, I only won a few of my bids. But it did help with the huge holiday Champagne shortage! champagne.gif

I actually got a decent lot of Lafon Volnay this auction. Price was at least 20% lower than WS low for US sources. Since Lafon is retiring, wanted to make sure I had a supply to tide me over into the future. Now we shall see how the shipping goes!