Benchmark Wine Group

About Benchmark

Provenance Guarantee

We acquire our unparalleled stock of fine and rare wine from well-maintained private cellars and reputable wholesalers, top importers, brokers and directly from producer stock, but only when provenance can be verified by our team of acquisitions professionals. Before purchasing a private collection, a Benchmark representative will often travel to the site of a cellar to meet the collector and inspect storage conditions to verify provenance. In other cases, we will carefully inspect photos of bottles before bringing them in-house. All wine is transported under ideal conditions to our facility. Once received, we meticulously hand-inspect every bottle for the slightest sign of sub-optimal storage and handling and reject any such bottle or collection showing a significant number of such bottles. In some cases, we will test representative bottles to ensure optimal condition. As a result, we guarantee the provenance of all wines that we sell. If you open a wine purchased from us within six months of the purchase date and the wine reveals signs of damage due to improper storage or transport, we ask that you re-cork the bottle with the remaining wine inside and contact us immediately.

Bottle Conditions

Each bottle of rare and back-vintage wine is unique. When a new collection arrives, we inspect each bottle by hand to assure the overall condition of the cellar meets our strict standards. When an individual bottle has a cosmetic blemish or other condition, our cellar team provides that notation. If no condition is cataloged, the bottle may still contain minor conditions, which are reflective of the bottles value and/or age. Minor conditions include cosmetic conditions such as nicked labels or chipped wax capsules.

Our staff collectively draws on decades of experience when inspecting the rare bottles we procure. When we cannot authenticate an especially rare and valuable wine, that bottle is immediately returned to the source from which it was acquired.

Following are the terms and abbreviations we often use when describing bottle conditions:


Bin Stained Label

Labels (especially ones that were originally packaged in wood cases) frequently get dingy, dusty, or have markings from their surroundings


Broken Wax Capsule

Portions of wax capsule have broken off, very common with some wines closed with brittle wax


Capsule Oxidation

White markings and/or dusty capsule. The term tarnished capsule may also be used to indicate slight oxidation of the exterior of the capsule. Very common with some wines


Capsule Tears

Portion of the capsule is damaged, cut or torn


Corroded Capsule

Flaking, peeling, or disintegration of the capsule


Chipped Wax Capsule

Very common with some wines closed with brittle wax


Cut Capsule To Reveal Vintage

Bottom half of capsule is cut with a razor to inspect cork through glass - often to ensure authenticity. This is a standard practice with older bottles during the authentication process


Damp Stained Label

Water markings resulting in gray outlines, often the result of high humidity in the cellar


Exposed Cork

Top of cork is visible, due to hole in capsule or chipped wax


Molded Labels

Signs of mold on label, often associated with a humid cellar


Nicked Capsule

Small notch out of the capsule, usually on the top rim of the bottle


Nicked Label

Small notches, usually circular


Obscured Vintage

Vintage may become obscured due to label tears, staining, or the neck label falling off. However, vintage has been confirmed


Scuffed Label

Surface markings


Signed Bottle

Signature on glass or label, often from winemaker or owner


Torn Label

Through the label to the glass


Tattered Label

A combination of label scuffs, tears, nicks and staining


Tissue Stained Label

Some wineries wrap their bottles with colored tissue, which can stain label underneath


Wrinkled Label

Labels can peel or wrinkle, often the result of storage in a humid cellar


Wrinkled/Loose Capsule

Capsule is bunched and sometimes loose on bottle neck


Writing On Label

Cannot be identified as a winemaker/owner signature


Bottom Neck

Good level for any age of wine, but outstanding for wines 20+ years of age


Very Top Shoulder

Common for wine 10+ years old. Excellent for bottles 20+ years old.


Top Shoulder

Normal level for wines 15+ years of age. Excellent for bottles 30+ years old.


High Shoulder

Acceptable level for wines 20+ years of age


Mid Shoulder

Not abnormal for wines 40+ years of age.


Low Shoulder

Rarely brought to market, exceptional situations



Good fill for wines 15+ years of age. Excellent for wines 25+ years of age.



Acceptable for wines 25+ years of age, cause for concern for wines less than 15 years old.



Not abnormal for wines over 50 years of age.



Rarely brought to market, exceptional situations


Original Wood Case

Collectible wood box issued by the winery. To request an Original Wood Case please contact

The following bottle conditions lead our cellar team to take extra care during inspection and evaluation.


Depressed Cork

Level of the cork is excessively below the top rim of bottle


Raised Cork

Level of the cork is above the top rim of the bottle


Signs Of Seepage

When wine has escaped through the cork and out from under the capsule


Wine Stained Label

Refers two situations; first a bottle has seepage that ran down the neck and over the label, second a bottle broke and splashed nearby bottles

Benchmark Wine Group

445 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 707.255.3500
Fax: 707.255.3503
SMS: 707.200.4049


Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm
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