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, 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. 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, we ask that you re-cork the bottle with the remaining wine inside and contact us immediately.

Provenance Guarantee Seal

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, that bottle is deemed to be in excellent condition for its age.

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:

BSL Bin Stained Label
Labels (especially ones that were originally packaged in wood cases) frequently get dingy, dusty, or have markings from their surroundings
BWC Broken Wax Capsule
Portions of wax capsule have broken off, very common with some wines closed with brittle wax
CO 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
CT Capsule Tears
Portions of wax capsule have broken off, very common with some wines closed with brittle wax
CC Corroded Capsule
Flaking, peeling, or disintegration of the capsule
CWC Chipped Wax Capsule
Very common with some wines closed with brittle wax
CCV 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
DSL Damp Stained Label
Water markings resulting in gray outlines, often the result of high humidity in the cellar
EC Exposed Cork
Top of cork is visible, due to hole in capsule or chipped wax
ML Molded Labels
Signs of mold on label, often associated with a humid cellar
NC Nicked Capsule
Small notch out of the capsule, usually on the top rim of the bottle
NL Nicked Label
Small notches, usually circular
OV Obscured Vintage
Vintage may become obscured due to label tears, staining, or the neck label falling off. However, vintage has been confirmed
SL Scuffed Label
Surface markings
SB Signed Bottle
Signature on glass or label, often from winemaker or owner
TL Torn Label
Through the label to the glass
TTL Tattered Label
A combination of label scuffs, tears, nicks and staining
TSL Tissue Stained Label
Some wineries wrap their bottles with colored tissue, which can stain label underneath
WL Wrinkled Label
Labels can peel or wrinkle, often the result of storage in a humid cellar
WC Wrinkled/Loose Capsule
Capsule is bunched and sometimes loose on bottle neck
WOL Writing on Label
Cannot be identified as a winemaker/owner signature

Ullage is the natural process by which the fill level in a bottle will drop over time. While a recent vintage wine with a low fill should be cause for concern, a bottle at 15+ years of age should be expected to have a less than perfect fill.

Bordeaux Bottle

VTS Very Top Shoulder
Common for wine 10+ years old. Excellent for bottles 20+ years old
TS Top Shoulder
Normal level for wines 15+ years of age. Excellent for bottles 30+ years old
HS High Shoulder
Acceptable level for wines 20+ years of age
MS Mid Shoulder
Not abnormal for wines 40+ years of age
LS Low Shoulder
Rarely brought to market, exceptional situations
Bordeaux Bottle Ulage Diagram

Burgundy Bottle

3cm 3cm
Good fill for wines 15+ years of age. Excellent for wines 25+ years of age
4cm 4cm
Acceptable for wines 25+ years of age, cause for concern for wines less than 15 years old
5cm 5cm
Not abnormal for wines over 50 years of age
6cm 6cm-7cm
Rarely brought to market, exceptional situations
Burgundy Bottle Ulage Diagram
OWC Original Wood Case
Collectible wood box issued by winery with bottles

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

DC Depressed Cork
Level of the cork is excessively below the top rim of bottle
RC Raised Cork
Level of the cork is above the top rim of the bottle
SOS Signs of Seepage
When wine has escaped through the cork and out from under the capsule
WSL 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

Cellar Appraisal

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