A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life
To subscribe and be notified anytime we post a new article, enter your email address in the box below, then click on Subscribe Now.

Featured Wine Commentary

Similar Articles:

  1. 2018 RED BURGUNDY
  2. 2018 GERMAN ROSÉS
  3. 2018 ROSES - IT'S TIME & IT LOOKS LIKE WE ARE IN FOR A REAL TREAT!
  4. CALERA WINE COMPANY - A GREAT CALIFORNIA WINE STORY NOW ENTERING ANOTHER CHAPTER
  5. A RECENT VISIT TO DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS – FALL 2018
  6. GAMBAL-WORK WINERY
  7. 2018 HILLSIDE HOUSE SUNSET SOIRÉE WITH JIM CLENDENEN OF AU BON CLIMAT
  8. IS IT ROSÉ TIME?
  9. DOMAINE BALLOT-MILLOT – HISTORY, OLDER WINES & THE 2015 VINTAGE, AND TASTING NOTES ON THE 2015S
  10. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  11. A VISIT TO TYLER WINERY
  12. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2014
  13. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD AND QUINTA CRUZ
  14. RIDGE VINEYARDS & THE DROUGHT YEARS 2012-2015
  15. BONNY DOON VINEYARD: A PIONEER PRODUCER WHERE OLD IS NEW
  16. VISIT TO CALERA & NEW AND OLD WINES
  17. DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS
  18. TYLER WINERY
  19. MARIETTA CELLARS
  20. CHANIN WINE COMPANY & LUTUM WINES
  21. MASSICAN WINERY
  22. DOMAINE BALLOT MILLOT
  23. DOMAINE SAUMAIZE-MICHELIN
  24. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2013
  25. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  26. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  27. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  28. RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
  29. TYLER WINERY AND CHANIN WINE COMPANY
  30. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2012
  31. WORLD CLASS CENTRAL COAST WINERIES: New Releases From Calera, Domaine Eden, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, and Tablas Creek Vineyard
  32. BERNARD PORTET’S NEW WINEMAKING PROJECT, HERITANCE
  33. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  34. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  35. TYLER WINERY
  36. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2011
  37. DOMAINE DONATSCH
  38. THE COMPLETE(R) STORY
  39. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD & QUINTA CRUZ: TWO IN ONE
  40. THE BIG KAHUNA LINE UP
  41. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  42. AU BON CLIMAT & QUPÉ
  43. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN
  44. MOSEL VERSUS MONTRACHET
  45. JOSEPH SWAN: A CALIFORNIA WINE LEGEND
  46. SUMMERTIME IS ROSÉ TIME!
  47. IN PURSUIT OF BALANCE: A TRADE TASTING AND MORE
  48. SPRING HAS SPRUNG
  49. THE MAYACAMAS MOUNTAINS OF NAPA VALLEY & THREE PIONEER PRODUCERS
  50. STILL DON'T KNOW JURA? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING!
  51. THREE CRU CLASSÉ LADIES OF THE COTES DE PROVENCE
  52. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2010
  53. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  54. KUDOS FOR CALERA
  55. THE HOLY TRINITY OF WINERIES
  56. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN -- SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW
  57. RIDGE VINEYARDS - UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY
  58. The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups -- Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain?
  59. A Pair To Draw From – Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Quinta Cruz
  60. T FOR TWO – TABLAS CREEK AND TYLER TOO!
  61. Que Syrah, Syrah…Wherefore Art Thou?
  62. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2009
  63. Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?
  64. Under The Radar California Wines
  65. More 2009 Wines
  66. A Tale of Two California Wineries – One New, One Old
  67. There Was A Legacy
  68. Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain
  69. 2009 Beaujolais
  70. Lemmings to the Sea?
  71. 2009 Rosé
  72. Dom Pérignon in the Napa Valley
  73. A Burgundy Story
  74. A Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Retrospective Tasting
  75. Champagne or No?
  76. A Visit With Robert Lawrence Balzer -- Grand Ambassador of American Wine Culture
  77. Champagne -- The Wine of Kings

Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?

Cary Feibleman • 12/3/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Is “Sanity” is returning to the market?  Recently I have received offers on 2006 Petrus and Ausone that are down about two-thirds in price from the peak.  These are wines that received scores “only” in the low to mid-90s.  So far, four figure pricing only holds in Robert Parker-anointed, best of the century (frequently twice, thrice a decade) vintages.  Let’s wait and see how long this lasts.

Super cult California prices have crashed.  Harlan has dropped from its peak in auctions by 30-50%, depending on the vintage, in the last two years. Araujo is down close to 50% — as the “new reality” sets in.  Hopefully, their business model will allow them to survive.  Other high profile cults appear to be in the same situation as Harlan.  And, I am not certain where Screaming Eagle, Shafer Hillside, and a few others lie.  However, if the precipitous increase in pricing  experienced in “direct purchases from the winery” over the last five years was motivated by wanting to share in the speculation, then they can survive.  If the rise was based on covering costs of building wineries, green cropping, development and management costs, then they are in trouble.  Current pricing is not sustainable.

So far, the successful outlier in the field is Fred Schrader who has been absolutely brilliant in marketing his, super ripe wines that are in the 15-16% alcohol range.  He built a buzz by tightly restricting distribution, used the Colgin, formerly Colgin-Schrader, label style, started low, controlled distribution by rarely offering more than a bottle from one vineyard per order, built tremendous buzz in the auction market through Zachy’s selling large bottle sizes and limited selections of his highly-rated wines, has held a few limited high profile tastings and was the subject  of a huge story in Wine Spectator leaving one the impression that he is the current golden boy, the Great Gatsby replete with vintage roadster in modern winemaking.  He acknowledges that his wines and those of others are so high in alcohol that he dare not drive himself (the roadster stays garaged that night)  to a restaurant to enjoy them.  He needs a driver. How sad, although safe, is that?

There are individuals in the old crowd, that are still making wine the old way, and when you pull the cork on a 10-20 year-old-bottle of Mayacamas and Ridge Monte Bello, they still give pleasure.  One family that rode the rollercoaster and seems to have adjusted comfortably back into a sustainable sales mode is Caymus.  The regular bottling can be had for $50 and the Special Selection for $100.  The latter is not twice as good, but is a bit more complex.  These are very interesting times in winemaking regions of the “New World.”  A whole generation, the 20-30 year- olds, have been lost to colored martinis, because the winemakers never produced an interesting entry product for them.  The interest in Pinot Noir came from the movie industry via “Sideways,” not from the wine industry, and  the push for ever higher prices has resulted in wine being viewed as an elitist product rather than a beverage to consume with dinner.

Counter-productive price escalation is not limited to “New World” wine regions. The “Old World,” specifically the highest echelons of Bordeaux, where several years ago accountants figured the actual cost of producing a bottle of wine was under $20, has had massive price increases. And, now  their products are selling for four figures in dollars, Euros and even pounds!  The unintended consequence of this stratospheric pricing is that a whole generation of wine sales personnel and sommeliers has never tasted a First Growth wine, because wine shops and restaurants cannot afford to open a bottle for the staff to sample.  This individual, whom the customer relies on for expert advice, has never tasted the wine; thus, recommends purchasing wines from other regions.  First Growth Bordeaux is becoming a museum piece, a collectible, a luxurious product enjoyed only in the most elite, moneyed circles.  With no shortage of purchasers seeking the best of the best in the finest years, owners of the Grand Chateaux do not seem to be worried. They have plenty of wiggle room to adjust down their releases prices in lesser years, a practice that is new to California and only now being observed at the retail level, but not seen in the “direct to consumer” purchases from wineries, a frankly odd way of treating your most loyal customers and the ones whom the wineries have relied on to build and support their brands.  The entire world wide wine industry needs to review its practices from top to bottom.  There are dark clouds on the horizon. The future of the industry is potentially at risk.  We’ll see how things pan out over the next few years.

Post a Comment

No comments so far for “Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?”

Post a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.