Building an Asset Value Wine Collection

Wednesday, 19th September 2018

by NEIL KAPLAN, ESQ., the Managing Partner of Cork Counsel,
and CHARLES CURTIS MW, the Founder of WineAlpha

1. Collect what you love
– Or understand what you collect. Collecting is about passion, and the most successful collectors have the understanding of their category that comes only with true love (or hire an expert)

2. Go deep
– Break the category into sub-genres, as what is true of Bordeaux wine is not necessarily true of Burgundy. Understand the multi-year trends for each wine type. Slavishly following trends can result in strategic errors.
– Example: Find the sleeper to maximize alpha (vintage port and sauternes are great categories to nab a bargain)

3. Avoid the bubble!
– Example: Right now Burgundy is trading at historic highs, and finding value is tricky. To do so, know which producers are popular (Domaine de la Romanée Conti), and where prices are rising (La Tâche) and where they are stagnant (the bottling from the Romanée Conti itself).

4. Protect value by paying attention to provenance, condition & rarity
– As in any category, these three factors are essential to driving asset value.
– Example: there will be tens of thousands of cases of your typical first-growth Bordeaux produced and hundreds of cases of magnums, but only a few dozen to a few score of larger bottles such as double magnums (3 liters), jeroboams (5 liters) or imperials (6 liters)

5. Avoid the “unicorn”
– While rarity is important, don’t overlook common sense. Certain wines such as Lafleur ’47 or magnums of Petrus ’29 are so rare that they are almost invariably counterfeit. To steer clear of problems, stick with wines that have a solid provenance and trading history.

6. Play the arbitrage
– Wine is a global category. In order to get in at the right price, don’t overlook sourcing in London or Hong Kong. Typically London sales have the lowest prices, while the best property often comes up in Hong Kong (albeit at a premium).

7. Pay attention to expenses, but don’t cut corners
– It is essential to use temperature controlled shipping and storage and to insure wine end to end, but it is important not to over-pay for these services, or to pay too much tax. As with everything, the devil is in the details.

In order to combine their respective talents to provide you with the best services possible; Neil & Charles have formed a New York–based strategic alliance for the purpose of performing not only wine appraisals and providing consultancy services for wine collectors, but also inspections, relocations and brokerage of wine collections.

CHARLES CURTIS of WineAlpha has unparalleled qualifications. He is:
A Master of Wine
An Appraisers Association of America certified wine appraiser
A published author
A member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine.
With a certified wine and appraisal expert you are guaranteed a wine appraisal that stands up to scrutiny. Charles has been called to testify in court proceedings regarding his wine appraisals, and none has ever been rejected.
Charles is also fully expert as a wine broker. He was for many years Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas, during which tenure he acquired intimate knowledge of the collectible wine market. He continues to hone his expertise:
Monitoring and documenting trade in fine and rare wine
Remaining up to date on market conditions
Identifying the most effective wines to sell at a given moment.


NEIL KAPLAN of Cork Counsel will monitor each project to ensure that your particular needs are being fulfilled. Neil’s background makes him uniquely suited for this role. He:
Practiced for six years as an attorney in New York City
Has 25 years of sales and support experience in the wine and spirits industry
Has advanced wine certification.
Moreover, Neil has learned and understands first and foremost that service and communication are the essence of any business. During all phases of each relationship, from the initial consultation through the final report, Neil is listening to your individual needs and objectives. He will:
Design each deal accordingly
Maintain effective communication
Provide appropriate updates.
With Cork Counsel handling your personal, business and administrative needs and WineAlpha directing the wine appraisals and wine brokerage you can be confident of receiving expert and timely work, distinctive service, and an authoritative final product.