Spectrum Fine Wine Auctions Home

The Spectrum Wine Auction Method

Our 6 Point Process

1. APPLICATION + VERIFICATION: All collections considered for approval and inclusion in our auctions are first subjected to a rigorous owner interview as well as a verification of storage and transport process. No collection is approved for our auctions out of hand; only collections that are provably well-stored and properly transported are accepted as eligible for auction sale. Collections that do not meet these standards are never accepted by Spectrum Wine for sale.

2. TRANSPORTATION + STORAGE: Once an approved collection is appraised and accepted for auction sale, it is transported at proper wine storage temperature to our state-of-the-art, temperature- and humidity-controlled wine storage facility in Orange County, California. Each collection’s various Auction Lots will reside here until purchased in turn by a bidder.

Built in 2004, our wine warehouse and company headquarters are located at 1641 E Saint Andrew Pl Santa Ana CA 92705-4932 (33°43’27” N, 117°50’48” W) on the site of a former orchard. We are situated in the heart of the South Coast AVA, nine miles from the Pacific Ocean, where mean annual temperatures and mean annual humidity are approximately 65°F (18.3°C) and 65% respectively.

Our wine warehouse is refrigerated down to ideal wine storage temperature of about 54.9°F (12.7°C) and 65% humidity. The warehouse relies on a 24/7 state-of-the-art, high-capacity, commercial-grade Larkin refrigeration system, including four condensing units and twleve evaporation coils.

3. INSPECTION + CATALOGUING: Once an approved collection has arrived at our wine storage facility, every bottle is individually considered, inspected, assessed, and barcoded by hand by a member of our team of Wine Specialists. Bottles are approved for sale at this stage purely on an individual basis; bottles that do not meet our strict condition standards are immediately rejected for sale and returned to their owner. All bottles are catalogued into our proprietary auction software system and individually barcoded with a unique Inventory ID number; this barcode also features the producer, description/name/grape variety/appellation, bottle format (L), and vintage of the wine in addition to its catalogued Auction Lot quantity. Additional, unique identifying data are also included in the bottles’ barcode stickers. Bottles are then laid down inside unique storage boxes sized according to the number of bottles contained within each barcoded inventory item (i.e. Auction Lot). [More Details Below]

4. PHOTOGRAPHY: One bottle within every approved Auction Lot is selected to be photographed twice – once of the front of the bottle and once of the back of the bottle. These two photographs are then linked to each item’s unique Inventory ID number. This part of the process helps us both to confirm that the Lot was correctly catalogued and to offer a real and transparent representation of that Lot to the upcoming auction’s bidders.

5. REPORTING: Upon the completion of a collection’s inspection and cataloguing, our team of Wine Specialists will, together with the owner’s Consignment Director, produce a unique Consignment Report that includes every consigned item either accepted or rejected for sale, including each Inventory ID number, appraised estimates, the reasoning for any rejections, and other significant data.

6. LOCATION: Once Inspection, Photography, and Reporting are complete, every Auction Lot’s unique Inventory ID number is scanned to a specific, named storage location within our wine warehouse facility. Every unique Inventory ID number carries within it a specific, trackable update and location history. Note all Auction Lots are available for in-person, pre- or mid-sale inspection (by advance appointment) at our Orange County wine facility.

Point #3 Continued: Inspection + Cataloguing

The Details

  • All observable conditions that differ from a bottle’s release condition are noted.
  • Full, original packaging cases are noted either as “OWC” (for “original wood case”) or as “OC” (for “original carton” to encompass all other non-wood types, most commonly of cardboard).
  • All condition notes are listed from the top of the bottle to the bottom of the bottle, separated by commas – where applicable, they are ordered as I) OWC/OC case notes; II) fill/ullage notes; III) capsule notes; IV) cork notes; V) vintage neck tag notes, where applicable; V) label notes; VI) seepage notes, where applicable; VII) serial number notes, where applicable; VIII) other notes.
  • If there is one to fill to note, all fills are noted.
  • For condition notes, only those that must be noted to indicate a discrepancy from release condition are noted. The absence of condition notes indicates release condition.
  • Only wines that have aged appropriately within the context of their grape variety, wine type, region, method of production, format, and vintage are accepted. Wines that would be universally understood to be too old for their type are rejected.
  • Only wines with strong, vibrant, clear colors that faithfully reflect their type at their age are accepted for sale. Wines exhibiting poor relative colors or clarity are rejected.
  • All bottles are barcoded and reboxed upon inspection. The same unique Inventory ID number with which the bottles are barcoded is applied to the individual box in which they are stored and scanned to a warehouse location.

The Condition Notes:

  • Vintage neck tag notes are typically only included for high-value bottles, e.g. for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Leroy, Henri Jayer, Domaine Ramonet, and the like.
  • Apparent, material damage to cases or missing lids are noted with initial OWC/OC case notes.
  • OWC case banding, where applicable, is noted with the initial OWC case notes. Whether Spectrum Wine’s Specialist team cut such bands is also noted, and photographs of the cutting are taken in the moment and can be provided upon request by a bidder.
  • Auction Lots that include more than one original case are noted as OWC (#) or OC (#).
  • For straight-sided/shouldered/Bordeaux-style bottles, fills are assumed to be “neck;” fills that are base neck or lower are noted as follows in descending order:
    1. Neck (assumed)
    2. Base neck
    3. Very top shoulder
    4. Top shoulder
    5. High shoulder
    6. Upper shoulder
    7. Upper mid shoulder
    8. Mid shoulder
    9. Low shoulder
    10. Base shoulder
      • Approval of lower-fill bottles varies with the age, and hinges on the color, of the wine in question.
  • For slope-shouldered/Burgundy-style bottles, fills are assumed to be higher than 2cm from the cork;” fills that are 2cm from the cork or lower are noted as follows in descending order in 0.5cm increments:
    1. <2cm (assumed)
    2. 2cm
    3. 2.5cm
    4. 3cm
    5. 3.5cm
    6. 4cm
    7. 4.5cm
    8. 5cm
    9. Etc.
      • Approval of lower-fill bottles varies with the age, and hinges on the color, of the wine in question.
      • Note: as the placement/length of Champagne foils varies widely, fills are noted relative to the foil itself, and only where applicable.
  • Capsule condition notes that are utilized are as follows:
    1. Nicked
    2. Worn
    3. Scuffed
    4. Torn
    5. Wrinkled
    6. Corroded
    7. Oxidized
    8. Tissue-stained
    9. Chipped (where applicable, e.g. with wax)
    10. Cracked (where applicable, e.g. with wax)
    11. Capsule cut to reveal _______________
    12. Adhesive-stained capsule
    13. Price sticker on capsule
    14. Inventory sticker on capsule
    15. Partially exposed cork
      • Fully exposed corks (that previously wore a capsule) are rejected out of hand.
  • Cork condition notes that are utilized are as follows:
    1. Recessed cork
    2. Protruding cork
      • Excessively or inappropriately protruding, excessively, recessed or otherwise dropping or soft corks are rejected out of hand.
  • Label condition notes that are utilized are as follows:
    • Nicked
    • Torn
    • Scuffed
    • Marked
    • Tissue stained
    • Bin soiled
    • Damp stained
    • Wine stained
    • Mold stained
    • Stained
    • Wrinkled
    • Handwritten notation on label
    • Price sticker on label
    • Stamped
    • Sticker/label partly overlapping label
      • Vintage neck tag condition notes will utilize the same lexicon, where applicable.
      • German amtliche prüfungsnummer bottling numbers are included for all applicable German wines.
      • Notes for stenciled labels – e.g. as with certain Madeiras or Portos – are omitted.
      • Known disgorgement or release or bottling dates are always included where known or provable.
      • Late releases are noted where known and/or provable.
      • Rebouchage notes are included where applicable.
  • If the same wines included together in an Auction Lot feature differing importers, the number of differing importers is noted.
  • Serial numbers are noted for most wines that utilize them.
    1. Note there are cases, however, in which a consignor may request we conceal such serial numbers to assist in maintaining their anonymity.
  • Seepage is noted where applicable.
    1. Most wines that show signs of seepage are rejected out of hand. Some wines for which seepage appears to have been slight and that otherwise demonstrate solid corks, high fills, and strong colors may be eligible for acceptance.
  • A wine’s full, identifying name – including producer, grape variety/appellation, vineyards, other cuvée terms, and vintage (i.e. the year of the harvest) – is always used. The wine’s country of origin, region of origin, and subregion/appellation of harvest is also included. A wine’s relevant classification is included as well, where applicable.
    1. With the exception of the generally standard OWC and OC terms, names and all other common terms are spelled in full (e.g. Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier not J.-F. Mugnier; Trockenbeerenauslese not TBA; etc.)
    2. Among Burgundian wines, differentiation is made between Domaine and Maison bottlings, where applicable.
  • The name of the collection of which the Auction Lot is a part is always included for all Lots. These collection names remain consistent through the years, so interested bidders can always keep track of the same collection’s offerings over time.