Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lots I Wish I'd Purchased at Auction Napa Valley

This year’s Auction Napa Valley was an overwhelming success, the various decadent lots bringing in a cool $18.7 million, the equivalent of what auction participants earn every thirty-five seconds. The lot with the highest bid included attendance at an exclusive party after the 2015 Oscars, and the chance to be personally assaulted by Nick Nolte. For the majority of the lots with the highest bids, wine was an afterthought—a fitting reflection of the Valley itself. Glamour, fame, cars, trips, and, oh, yeah, we make wine here.

It hasn’t been talked about much, but there were several auction lots that did rather poorly. In fact, these lots had no bidders. Auction Napa Valley has tried to keep these unwanted lots from the press in an effort to spare the sponsors of the lots embarrassment, but some intrepid reporting has uncovered the details. Frankly, it’s hard to believe the lots didn’t sell. Many blame auctioneer Fritz Hatton, who insisted on dressing as Jerry Lewis, referring to the vintners as “Jerry’s kids,” and performing “You’ll Never Wok Alone” in a bad Korean accent.

Lot 52 Sponsored by Sterling Vineyards
The winning bidder(s) receives six season tickets to Donald Sterling’s private box for the 2014-15 NBA season (no black people need bid). Mr. Sterling will lead guests on a private tour of Staples Center, including a pre-game visit to the Clippers locker room where he’ll repeatedly say, “Look at the size of that one!” Lot includes a private jet to Los Angeles International Airport, a private ride to Staples Center in OJ’s newly-restored white Bronco, accommodations with mixed race hookers in one of Mr. Sterling’s slumlord apartments, and lots and lots of Purell. In the event that the Los Angeles Clippers are sold, or that Mr. Sterling dies, winning bidders get front row seats at the citywide celebration.

Lot 68 Sponsored by Apothic
Here’s the chance to make your dream come true! The winner of this exclusive lot gets to be “Embalmer for a Day!” Wonder what it’s like to fill a human’s bloodstream with a mixture of formaldehyde and methanol, just like the makers of Apothic Red? Spend a day at the Napa Valley Mortuary and Wine Bar (the former COPIA), grab a couple of stiff ones, and find out! Who knows, maybe you’ll be embalming somebody rich and famous. Look around you at the other auction tables—how long can it be for most of these rich old farts? Don’t tell anyone, but it turns out if you huff the embalming fluid, it’s just like drinking Colgin from a hot vintage! And, hey, you’ll be in a room full of stiffs—why, it’s like you’re at an editorial meeting at Wine Spectator! This would be fun for the whole family.

Lot 87 Sponsored by Raymond du Soleil Vineyards
Ever wondered what it’s like to be at a private dinner for 60 people at the French Laundry? The winner of this lot will find out when he and five guests are busboys for an evening! The 60 people dining will be there to celebrate Jean-Charles Boisset’s 60th birthday, sponsored by Closet World. Chef Thomas Keller will prepare a special feast for the party guests while managing to find time to personally insult the competence of his auction-winning busboys. Haven’t you always wanted to be treated like insolent children by some of Napa Valley’s most famous cult Cabernet producers? Well, you can either take the time to visit them at their wineries, or you can experience the same treatment as a busboy at America’s greatest restaurant! And if you’re lucky, you might just get a tip. “Hey, kid, buy Scarecrow futures.”

Lot 49 Sponsored by Charles Shaw
Dinner with Thomas Pynchon. Chances are he won’t show.

Lot 99 Sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners Association
Ten people will travel First Class to France to visit lesser wine regions. Begin in Burgundy, where the minor variety Pinot Noir grows like a weed and smells like a barnyard, whatever that is. We’re from Napa, barns are tasting rooms, right? After that, a trip to the beautiful Loire Valley, where the scenery more than makes up for them making mostly white wine, with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon’s village idiot father, Cabernet Franc, producing wimpy reds. Our trip to lesser regions wouldn’t be complete without stopping in the Northern Rhône, where man first discovered Syrah doesn’t sell unless you call it a fake name, like Hermitage (rhymes with “heritage”). Then it’s Bordeaux to taste some Napa blends, and, finally Champagne, because by then you’ll be tired of wine. As it turns out, there are other regions in the world that produce wine. I know, hard to believe.

Lot 73 Sponsored by the Courts of Masters with Johnsons
The high bidder for this lot will be welcomed as a newly minted Master Sommelier AND official Master of Wine. No need to take any tests or write any dissertations, the titles are both yours to keep. You’ll get the coveted lapel pins, as well as the traditional inflatable Jancis Robinson for your personal enjoyment. Be careful, she’s hard to tell from the real thing! There are only a handful of people in the world who have earned both degrees, though feel free to sell the M.S. for face value and buy yourself a couple bottles of wine. The initials after your name entitle you to unlimited blowhard opinions, free tastings at the world’s finest estates that accept Visa Signature, and the limitless respect of all the Masters of Wine you haven’t heard of. Void where prohibited by humility.


Jack Edwards said...

Wine is not an afterthought for most of us here though.
Its fun to make fun of this, and we all do it, but its nice to take all these rich people's money and use it for good so I hope they keep it up and we get to make fun of them for a very long time!

Brian Baker said...

Wicked funny...The NVV lot should also include attendance at an NVV staff meeting and two free uses of "getting a word in edgewise"

voice of reason said...

Bullseye again!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Ah, yes, the money does go to a good cause. But you're not "taking" the money, you're giving them stuff, and wine, for it. And it seems the stuff earns way more money than the wine. Also fine, but I notice it's no longer the Napa Valley Wine Auction, it's Auction Napa Valley--a loud message.

I can only imagine. Somehow, it reminds me of the rich folks who live in Pasadena and absolutely have to be part of the Rose Parade committee or you are become a social leper. Maybe the Auction Napa Valley needs a parade. Hell, Shanken is already a float.

Thanks. But wrong end of the bull.

Bob Henry said...


Were you torn between . . .

Syrah doesn’t sell unless you call it a fake name, like Hermitage (rhymes with “heritage”).

-- and --

Syrah doesn’t sell unless you call it a fake name, like Hermitage (rhymes with “Meritage”).

"Enquiring minds want to know."

~~ Bob

Bob Henry said...


The allusion . ..

celebrate Jean-Charles Boisset’s 60th birthday, sponsored by Closet World

. . . is that some "inside the Washington Beltway" snicker?

(Closet World?)

~~ Bob

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I just write 'em, I never explain 'em.

Joe Roberts said...

So many zingers. But "Then it’s Bordeaux to taste some Napa blends" might be the best one. A Coffee spit take ensued.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I just met with a guy who traveled to Europe with a bunch of Napa Valley Vintners, and he couldn't wait to tell me I got all that exactly right. It's Napa Valley's world, and we just get to live in it.

Keep spittin' that coffee, my friend. No higher tribute. Or nastier.

Unknown said...

Very funny, very fitting, even if the timing suggests that this post is a shameless ploy to encourage votes for Best Writing on a Wine Blog in the Wine Blog Awards, which just opened.

Marcia Macomber said...

So many zingers it's nearly impossible to choose a favorite. But mine just may be the succinctness of the last line, "Void where prohibited by humility." Beautiful!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Mike,
What's funny is that I had no idea I was nominated for a couple of Wine Blog Awards until I got a note from 1WineDoody congratulating me (no one else congratulated me--not much of a shock, I'd say).

I don't campaign for these things, nor am I concerned about "winning" what amounts to absolutely nothing. But I suspect Lo Hai Qu may have some nasty words for the judges who failed to nominate her this year after she won Best Blog Post last year. Stay tuned.

Marcia Love,
These weren't even the worst "lots" I could think of, just the ones that rang the truest, in some twisted sense. Glad you enjoyed it.


Oops. That slipped out. Never mind.