David Parker, owner and founder of Benchmark Wine Group, has a very interesting job. He buys complete wine cellars from anywhere in the U.S., seeking to resell the wine to collectors. In a business that has frankly had more than its fair share of shysters over the years he stands out for paying on pick up, if the seller wishes. Or, if the seller can wait a designated time for payment (giving Parker a chance to sell the bottles on) he will pay a higher price. He says that he has never paid late. At any time he has around 4,000 to 6,000 different wines in stock (and 25,000-35,000 bottles) listed on his company web site.
He swung though town recently to meet some collectors and trade people (members of the Sons of Bacchus – SOBs) over a meal at Urbano Café where K’eo Velasquez’ farewell menu reinforced why Mitch and Kristen Kauffman’s neighborhood BYOB restaurant is a big hit with wine lovers. He also brought along a few gems like 1937 Red Burgundy, 2000 Château Haut-Brion, the first growth from Bordeaux, 2005 Hermitage from France’s northern Rhône and a 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape from the southern Rhône. Oh, and a bottle of his family winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Sonoma County, California.
Other SOBs were not to be outdone and supplied a host of world-class wines themselves. All told, we blocked the back porch with first growths.
While he is presently based in Napa Parker is opening up a Texas office in Austin this summer which will make the logistics of cellar consignment more straightforward for Texas collectors.