2009 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Morgeot Fairendes, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru

Looking for a new horizon of wine buying adventure? Discover your vinous Indiana Jones alter ego by venturing into online auction, GrapePip.com

Auctions are a funny thing; intimidating to those who have never been, whilst intoxicating and addictive to those that buy from them. Sales of wine online are rising exponentially and all the consumer buying data suggests huge growth potential. But what does that mean for us drinkers?

I hadn’t given the wine auction model much thought until I had lunch with Caspar Bowes, CEO of Grape Pip, the “Ebay for wine” (his words). He explained that Grape Pip isn’t really rocket science, but it does have a place in the landscape of wine buying. As we chatted I started to see his point. The wine drinker may have a few regular benchmark bottles that are ordered with reassuring regularity, but there's also another very human desire we hanker after, a mental itch perhaps, that needs satiating: adventure.

beaune 1er cru
Rossignol-Trapet - Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons - 2010 - "Retro chic"

The beauty of auction buying is that you are momentarily suspended into the realm of the treasure hunter. The idea of the great unknown, or in this case, the great undrunk, is the driving motivation to scour long listings looking for small parcels of joy. The adventure lies in the bargain buying but also in the quest for tasting new experiences.

Fine Wine or Fools Gold?

Of course the auction has always been a place of inherent risk. My rock solid example is Roger Moore in the 80’s Bond classic, Octopussy. Bond buys the famed faberge egg only to find out that he has been duped. Luckily he was bidding with taxpayers money so it didn’t matter but that’s not the case for the rest of us!

Although much has been made of faking bluechip wines in books such as Billionaire’s Vinegar, or, more recently, the documentary ‘Sour Grapes’, the real concern for many is how the wines have been stored. An old bottle with mottled label may look the bee’s knees but if it’s hanging around under the former owners stairs next to the boiler for ten years, then the buyer may get a bout of disappointment when it is uncorked.

I put this question of risk to Caspar who inhales confidently from his glass of 2009 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Morgeot Fairendes, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, and goes onto explain that only fine wine that has full provenance can find its way into the listings (I’m quite sure he has the same policy for his glass too). Grape Pip claims to be very stringent in its adherence to this policy as a best practice to protect the customer. Afterall, adventures can at times turn awry but in this instance, we’d prefer our rejection of a wine to be based on preference of style or taste than because it tastes of bitter cardboard.

So I set off to checkout the site for myself and thought that I’d begin by price checking what’s in the listings with Wine-Searcher.com’s copious volumes of international records. I was actually relieved to see that Grape Pip had second guessed this step and actually put a link on the listing page so that I could bring it straight up. The wines I checked certainly did represent a bargain in the auction and I was starting to whet my thirst for… well, port… and burgundy…. and, and, and….

Going once, going twice…

Since lunching with Caspar I have been away quite a it but am looking forward to getting online over the Christmas period and placing an order that will be delivered in time for when January’s boil of abstinence will need to be lanced. It’s cold outside and I do have port on my mind so that will be my foray order. I am going to get some mates to have a go too and am looking forward to reporting on their feedback sometime soon.

If you have a try then please email your feedback to be added to the mix!

You can conduct your own due diligence here: www.grapepip.com or...

For a slightly more interesting Christmas gift voucher: https://www.grapepip.com/p/Vouchers

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Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.


East from Roma to Abruzzo

From Rome we headed east to Abruzzo, a region of Italy that rises up like a burly landlord to greet the traveller. The Apennine mountains at their tops are stark and beautiful, lonely, yet fulsome. Rustic doesn’t quite do this landscape justice. It’s a place for pilgrims, peace lovers and, of course, we followers of Bacchic and gastronomic pleasure.


After days of picking grapes in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the pickers get together to drink, chat and enjoy the drinks they are meticulously involved in the making of. 

Also check out local winemaker, Nico’s, top tip for a white Burgundy from Saint Aubin that you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to get!


What started in El Quatre Gats tapas bar in Barcelona, soon became an adventure in the Marche region of Italy, that lies along the east coast facing Albania across the Adriatic Sea. El Quatre Gats is famously where Picasso had his first solo exhibition as a young edgy artists in the Catalan capital and I was there dining with Dr Pia Casarini Wadhams, Director of Italy’s only Polar Institute, Il Polo.


The Palazzo is located in the centre of Fermo, a small Roman hilltop town with a rich history dating back to antiquity. Flying from abroad, Ancona is the closest airport, 67km north (about an hours drive) along the coast of the Adriatic sea.