Wet auctions and Two Hands

I Mosel-ed, I Saar-ed, I Ruwer-ed: One American�s Quest to Conquer Germany�s Finest Wines at the Wet Auctions


We are thrilled to have a first hand report on the 2008 German vintage from our friend Justin Christoph. Justin's report on the Wet auctions, where the greatest German wines go for princely sums, gives us a great view into the inner working of the German auction market, as well as a sneak peak at the style and quality of the vintage, and so much more.

With a fascinating day by day account of each auction, there are four in total, and insigts into the wines tasted, it's a wet auction afterall, (no. really that's what they are referring to) Justin will make your mouth water and curl into a smile with his descriptions. And don't overlook his trials and tribulations along the way:"Hair pin turns greeted me as I weaved my way down to the Mosel. These were not your ordinary hairpin turns but hairpins twisted by your teenage sister at the height of her angst". All in all this is a great read for any winelover and one worth taking the time for.

More about the author

Justin Christoph is a fine and rare wine expert with over 10 years’ experience in the authentication, evaluation and valuation of private and public wine collections. He has worked for numerous and prestigious auction houses and currently consults for both private and business clients.

I Mosel-ed, I Saar-ed, I Ruwer-ed:  One American’s Quest to Conquer Germany’s Finest Wines at the Wet Auctions

Germany’s Wet Auctions have showcased the truly great wines of German from the top estates for over 100 years

When I tried to explain to friends and even associates in the wine trade that I was going to the wet auctions in Germany, no one seemed to know what they were or what I was talking about.  The common consensus was that either my trip, excercisized merely an intellectual justification for playing out the last phase of alcoholism or that I was just trying to get a head start on Oktoberfest. Not at all, I insisted, only about forty wines would be tasted twice each day, once before and then again during the course of the four auctions, luckily each sale having its own day. And of course, one would spit. My pleas for understanding fell on deaf ears and I was forced to set out alone to a country whose wines I loved from first sip in my teenage years and were now finally becoming more popular worldwide. Even in these enlightened times and with the press about Riesling gaining in popularity, most still find themselves drinking lighter Rieslings on a summer day, or before they get to the ‘real wines aged in oak and/or preferably red. Aromatic white grape varietals can produce serious wines, particularly Riesling.  The wet auctions in Germany are one of the few venues where so many great white wines made in different styles are showcased: piercing dry Grand Crus (Grosses Gewachs in German) to luscious honeyed Gold Kapsule (reserve symbol) Auslese(ripe), Beerenauslese(riper), and Trockenbeerenauslese(ripest). Now say that 10 times fast!  Furthermore, these auction wines and the other top wines from Germany can be cellared twenty, thirty years or more as they age effortlessly as the slowly begin to fan their peacock’s tail. The key to aging wine is not extraction, weight and alcohol, but balance, acidity and breeding.  Even with renewed interest in Riesling (they were the most expensive wines in the 19th century), the top wines in Germany are still bargains compared to their counterparts in Bordeaux, Burgundy and California.  At the wet auctions this year, the bidding on some of these wines started as little as 7 Euros a bottle, while the top late harvest gems from the big names pushed the century mark and the smattering of cellar rarities (some as old as a 1945 with pristine provenance) ran upwards of hundreds and even thousands of Euros to deserving applause.

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Mentioned in this article


  • I absolutely adore the appropriation of the word Mosel as a verb. To "mosel" is wonderfully evocative, especially w/r/t all the bends in the river.

    Jan 18, 2010 at 11:04 AM

  • Snooth User: bonest
    263919 1

    I lived for 8yrs near the Mosel river, and recommend the wines highly, and also the region. If you ever get the chance, spend a few days driving from Trier to Koblenz along the Mosel. The scenery is breathtaking, and explore the Hunsruck or Eiffel on either side by driving up and down the treacherous switchbacks.

    Jan 18, 2010 at 1:25 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,000

    Thanks, Justin, for the info on the wet auctions and the wittily told anecdotes. Certainly the best post on rieslings I've seen in the past year on Snooth (or anywhere else, for that matter). Definitely had me salivating, if not also wishing I had a good Porsche to follow you in your drive....

    Was wondering, Snooth editors, if the transition from the third to the fourth page was missing something?

    Jan 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Chris Carpita
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    33093 5,546

    Thank you Justin, I enjoyed reading that. Makes me want to Mosel on down to our wine collection. Also I had little idea about wet auctions, and I want to learn more now!

    Jan 18, 2010 at 3:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,324

    Great article. I've shared a few bottles of riesling from Mosel, but haven't even begun to scratch the surface.

    Jan 18, 2010 at 5:53 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    That really was fun reading, both for the winegeek in me and the vicarious thrill seeker!

    Jan 21, 2010 at 5:00 PM

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