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An increasingly critical factor to ensuring the maximum sale value is achieved upon exit, is the provenance of the wine.

In order to maximise provenance, wine should be stored in bond (IB), in original wooden casing. This ensures that the case is stored in optimum conditions, because bonded warehouses in the UK will offer specialized conditions for fine wine, both in terms of temperature and humidity. Perhaps more importantly though, bonded warehouse are subject to stringent rules regarding the traceability of wine in order to ensure no foul play in relation to wines being removed from bond before tax is paid. What results is an audit trail for any every case stored in bond, following the movements of the wines since delivery to the UK – providing a solid method for tracing provenance.

Other issues that will affect the market value of a case of wine are:


Wines that remain in their original wooden casing are the most desirable, as they will almost always carry superior condition to a non-OWC case. Non-OWC cases are usually either an original case but with a new lid replacement or a cardboard case.

Duty paid (DP) cases

A case of investment-grade wine that has been removed from bond and had the Excise Duty and VAT paid, will almost always command an inferior price to one that is still held under bond. The simple reason for this is that even DP cases have had £1.81 Duty and 20% VAT paid on them, they are less attractive from a buyer’s perspective, as they do not carry the traceable provenance of an IB case.

US strip label stock

Any wines imported into the USA require the importing firm to place an importing sticker onto each bottle – known as a strip label. Naturally, wine that is exported to the USA is far less attractive to buyers from other regions of the world, as the wine has already made the journey half way around the world, with little-to-no record of transportation climate or conditions.

Soiled/damaged stock

Cases or bottles can often become ‘soiled’ for various reasons. With older wines, label damage can be expected, and funnily enough the staining of labels can often occur naturally as a result of correct humidity/climate for optimal storage. To ensure that a case will carry the maximum premium for exit sale, when initially buying wine, it is important to check all labels and capsules are in perfect condition, wine levels are into the bottle neck (top shoulder is acceptable as a minimum for certain wines) and the case is original wood.

In the last 12-months, provenance has become increasingly paramount, as the major Châteaux have begun to implement Prooftag technology in an effort to combat the rising number of counterfeit wines coming from the Far East. The new technology means that ‘tagged’ bottles can be validated and traced upon request.

Lafite’s private cellar auction in October 2010, highlighted the importance being placed on wines with provenance. The auction, held in Hong Kong, saw the majority of lost sold for 50-100%+ above the market price at the time (see table below).

Many believe this extraordinary price premium was commanded by bidders, placing particular emphasis on the provenance of the stock as well as the guarantee of authenticity and quality of the product.



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