The final FTLOP buying opportunity for 2011 comes on the heels of my recent article portraying a fine vertical tasting of Graham’s Vintage Ports up in Vancouver, with Rupert Symington. One subscriber, Don Baumhefner who also happens to be a prominent winemaker in California, (who started by producing sparkling wines for Joseph Swan, nearly thirty years ago: http://www.donbaumhefner.com) sent me an email presenting the possibility of releasing five complete verticals of Graham’s Vintage Ports, from 2007 all the way back to the 1963 vintage. I was intrigued and our discussions took off from there.
After learning that Don had purchased nearly every bottle upon release, (all except for 1963 and 1966) and stored them in a temperature controlled facility at his winery, I felt this might be a rare opportunity for a handful of serious collectors to procure an entire vertical. We discussed how the bottles had been stored, how he came across the 1963 and 1966 bottlings and the overall condition of his collection. I learned that Don had been a serious Port enthusiast for many years and he had even more Graham’s in storage, but was only willing to sell these five sets.
In Don’s own words:
“ALL wines were purchased by me locally and have been stored in a temperature controlled wine warehouse by me since I bought them. ALL were bottled by Graham's in Portugal, even the 1963 and 1966. They have been imported by various names including Premium Port Wines, Chancellor Selections, Adventures in Wine, D'Vine Wine Selections, Cellars Intl', and Golden West. ALL are located here in the SF Bay Area. I have personally known and trusted ALL the importers from whom I bought these wines. ALL these names are ones I have had good dealings with over the years. ALL fill levels are at the highest levels, even the 1963 and 1966 are well up into the necks. I have happily consumed all the bottles with fill levels low in the neck.”
Don sent lots of photos of the bottles to me and I’ve included a few below. However, I’ve learned that photos don’t always tell the entire story. Offering Port from private collectors is not that easy, requires a great deal of homework and is a thankless job fraught with pitfalls if not extraordinarily cautious. Had Don not had the wherewithal to properly handle the shipping and have the legal means to do so to the vast majority of states, I wouldn’t have considered moving forward. After one recent incident, I was very hesitant to even consider doing so again. I explained my concerns, which all stemmed around the issue of provenance and then we discussed a plan that seemed to relieve my worries. I wanted to see these with my own eyes and inspect EVERY single bottle that would be offered.
I was heading to the SF Bay area and Don mentioned he’d come down to view Life on the Douro. In fact, he drove ALL the bottles down from his winery so that I could visually inspect them to check fill levels, look for any signs of past seepage, the condition of the labels/corks/capsules etc. I inspected all five verticals, bottle by bottle. They are in fantastic shape with the “worst” bottles into the base neck and the vast majority of them, well into the neck. There were no signs of past seepage although one or two IVDP labels were discoloured, but not from Port from what I could discern. Two of over 60 bottles had a v. slight tear on the front label (so what?) and less than a handful of other labels were slightly discoloured and/or stained, but not from wine. All capsules were fully intact and in perfect condition, as were the corks. I told him that I was now, finally, convinced that he had something very special to offer and we started working on the details that go into getting these Ports into your hands.
Simply put, Don is offering five individual sets of Graham’s Vintage Port verticals, 14 bottles apiece, from the following vintages:
1963 / 1966 / 1970 / 1975 / 1977 / 1980 / 1983 / 1985 / 1991 / 1994 / 1997 / 2000 / 2003 / 2007
Five fortunate individuals or groups, (yes, there’s nothing wrong with getting a group together to invest in one of these verticals that can then be shared between you) will have the opportunity to have these beautifully stored bottles of Graham’s in a readymade, deep vertical. Piecing together a collection like this or finding one at auction is difficult enough, but given the provenance of these bottles … it is a truly unique situation and not one that I expect will ever come before us again.
An individual set of the 14 bottles of Graham’s VP mentioned above = $2,000.00 USD which includes the cost of shipping as defined below.
Please note this offering is for ALL FTLOP newsletter recipients, not solely subscribers, nor solely for FTLOP’ers based in the USA!
You can place your order between December 12th - 22nd 2011 on a “first come, first served basis -- until sold out. Please remember there are only 5 sets available.
You must order an entire vertical. No haggling on the pricing, nor trying to purchase partial parcels will be accepted. The only negotiable will be if anyone is interested in purchasing more than one vertical; if available Don may be willing to discuss a discount if two or more verticals are purchased by the same individual.
Please place all orders by email: [email protected] - or by phone by calling Don at: 1(707) 778-7143
If placing your order by email, please include: Graham’s Vertical in the “subject line.”
When placing your order (especially by email!) please include your phone number, so that Don can call you back to confirm: 1) your exact order. 2) your billing address. 3) your shipping address. 4) your payment preference of using Paypal or Personal Check (note – NO credit cards accepted). 5) find out whether you’d like to have your wines shipped or held until the weather is better.
No credit cards will be accepted due to fees involved in accepting them.
You may pay by personal check or Paypal, and can discuss these options with Don at the time of the purchase.
The seller, (Don) will pay all of the costs involved to ship each of the 5 collections, in styro-shippers, at the time of your choosing.
To clarify, this is UPS or FedEx Ground shipping, anywhere in the lower 48 states. Should you choose to have these delivered more quickly, < overnight or 2nd day Air > you will be responsible for the costs involved for more rapid transit; minus the cost of ground shipping.
It IS possible to ship to the EU or elsewhere, but please contact Don for more info re: doing so.
Given the winter weather, Don is happy to hold onto your shipment in his temperature controlled cellar at no charge, but will expect payment up front for the wines.
Last but not least, Roy negotiated this deal for FTLOP subscribers, but only puts buyers and seller together and is not financially involved whatsoever. Therefore he prefers NOT to be involved in ordering or shipping matters and asks you to resolve any issues directly with Don Baumhefner. Please feel free to email [email protected] should you have any questions re: details described above.