Stewart bought some, paying Sherry-Lehmann for wine that would be delivered a few years later — four cases of 2015 Bordeaux which were to be shipped in about three years, after the wine matured in the bottles. Later he bought 2016 and 2019 futures on wines that were supposed to arrive in 2019 and 2022.
There is risk in wine futures, just as there is in commodities futures: A vintage may not live up to the initial buzz. “It’s not like it’s F.D.I.C. insured,” he said after I had mentioned the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which, among other things, insures deposits of up to $250,000 in most banks. But he said he thought that if Sherry-Lehmann did not deliver on its wine futures, it would be “fatal to their business.”
“Once word got out that they reneged on something, that would be the end,” he told me.
But the wines he had paid for did not arrive.
Even after they were long overdue, he spent another $400 or so on a case of white Burgundy, wine that was supposedly in stock. When that purchase was not delivered, Sherry-Lehman told him the Burgundy was on back order and would arrive soon — and that the store would not issue a refund or a credit.
He also heard about two customers who had sued Sherry-Lehmann over 2015 futures that had not arrived in 2018, when they were originally promised, or in 2019. By then, the 2016 wines, which they had ordered in 2017, had not been delivered, either. He wrote that they wanted the wine or its fair market value, which they estimated at $801,264.