The Palm Beach Wine Auction might not be the biggest one around, but it’s definitely the most luxurious. The event takes place at Mar-a-Lago, and features only the rarest vintages from the best wineries. The evening begins with a glass (not a flute) of Krug Grand Cuvée, and moves onto a decadent, five-course dinner featuring a bevy of a award-winning chefs, while paddles are raised for 45 prestigious lots of very, very special wines.
This year, founder and auction chair Ted Mandes has lined up four top chefs including Trevor Kunk from Press in Napa and Joe Mercuri from Mercuri’s in Montreal. We caught up with Mandes just as he came back from a trip to California and Oregon’s wine country. While there, he tirelessly tastes wine in order to he bring back the best of the best all for his cause of raisinge money for West Palm Beach educational programs.
6:00 AM: I go over my vineyard notes and my wife and I try to have a good breakfast and a couple shots of espresso in preparation for the day’s tastings.
9:30 AM: I go to Rudd Estates in Oakville, CA. Their wines are exquisite. Leslie Rudd has been good friend and partner of the Auction since the beginning. We’re looking for exceptional wines. For example, if there are only 4, 9-liter bottles of the Oakville Estate, we will buy the only two that ever leave the vineyard. That gives us exclusivity, and certain collectors like those large formats.
11:00 AM: We go to Vineyard Seven and Eight for the first time. It’s a winery with great promise—to the point where I am purchasing as I amtasting. They are very excited to work with us, and are donating some wine as well.
12:30 PM: We have lunch at Antica, owned by Piero Antinori. It is one of the most breathtaking properties in Napa, with a view and wines to match. You’d have to travel to Italy to find comparable food. We have lunch and discuss business with Glenn Salva, who will come to the auction this year.
3:00 PM: We visit Colgin Cellars, the highest rated wineries in the region. Three out of her four wines got 100 points for 2010 vintages, and go for about $400 a bottle. Owner Ann Colgin has been very generous to us; she often donates experiences for us to auction. We taste and, of course, buy wine for the auction.
6:00 PM: Dinner and tasting with Ed and Trish Snider, the owner and winemaker at Beau Vigne. He started in 2002 , I first tasted his 2003 bottle in 2005 and buy his wines every year for the auction ever since. We’ve become close friends with him and his wife over the years and really enjoy these dinners. We finish at 9:30 that night and start all over again the next day. It’s an exhausting 10 days, but there are 60,000 kids counting on us, and it’s a labor of love.