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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
19 May 2008

Anyone remotely interested in fine wine should read this excellent article on Wine Spectator's website.

Energetically run by the relatively youthful John Kapon, Acker Merrall & Condit has grown from being a little neighbourhood wine store to notching up auction sales of nearly $60 million last year, making Acker America's most successful auctioneer.

A considerable proportion of this turnover was generated by selling wine consigned by the 31 year-old Los Angeles collector Rudy Kerniawan about whom I wrote last year in That crazy, single-owner Acker sale. See also Single-owner sale raises over $24 million.

Kerniawan told me then, explaining why he was selling such a lot of wine, 'I like Burgundy, and I know the producers I like: Rousseau, DRC, de Vogüé, Roumier, Ponsot, Dujac. I sort of limit myself now to what I really like. I sold because the wine market's hot at the moment and people are thirsty for great wine. Like me four years ago, they're all drooling over it.'

It seems as though Kerniawan now has a lot more explaining to do - and life is getting increasingly complicated for Kapon. As well as apparently trying to sell Ponsot wines which were never made, he now has to deal with the litigious Bill Koch, whose pursuit of Hardy Rodenstock over the 'Jefferson bottles' is well chronicled in Ben Wallace's new book The Billionaire's Vinegar. Two days before the 'faux Ponsot' sale on 25 Apr, Koch filed against Acker over what he claims are fake wines he bought from Acker in 2005 and 2006.

Presumably Kapon's phone is abuzz with calls from those who have bought from his razzle-dazzle sales in New York restaurants. From what I could tell from attending one and listening to the sales being discussed, many of those who have paid such high prices for Acker rarities are well-heeled, relative newcomers to fine wine.

Laurent Ponsot is to be congratulated on blowing the whistle.