Wine Events USA

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Posted on March 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM
Ahhh, the "million dollar" question.  I taste hundreds of different wines monthy from all over the world, ranging  from $6 to $160 and some bottles more expensive than that. We all have our budgets when scouring the isles at the wine store to find the wine that pleases your palate or completes a marriage with your favorite cuisine.   But does price always dictate the quality of the juice?  Will your significant other feel special because you paid more than usual for your Saturday night vino?  If you spend more, will the wine taste better?'s pretty hit or miss..... But through my experience over the years i will say this.  About 60-70% of wines that are "considerably" more expensive than their counterparts, will be of better quality.  Does better quality mean better taste?  Yes, sometimes, but not always because taste as we all know, is very subjective. 
Now, what makes a wine more expensive besides better quality care and grapes?  1. Real Estate: You all heard about location, location, location.  Well when it comes to wine, location will dictate price structure.  Just look at the price of a Cabernet from Napa Valley and a similiar Cabernet from neighboring Sonoma county. Price is a dominant factor for the shear fact that an unplanted acre of land in Sonoma goes for around $50,000 and in Napa, about $80,000, and Lake county CA. about $17,000.00.  So actually,  if you took the exact same soil, grapes, climate, and vinification process, the wines would be very close in quality but would cost more due to the real estate costs.
Another factor is 2. Production:  If a vineyard only makes a thousand cases of their so called Cabernet, and it is good, then the demand will be larger than the supply, soooooo........ it may be higher priced because the winery knows they can charge more since demand is high and production is low.
3. Hype:  This is where Bordeaux wines rule this category...  Parker and wine spectator reviews, hundreds of years of past winery experience, and low production all factor into Bordeaux's overpricing of their wines..
I recently attended a grand cru tasting in NYC of some of the top producers of Bordeaux on the left and right bank, and came up with this very intuitive sumation...   Bordeaux is overpriced mainly because of years of over hype, over scored wines, and top Chateaux's putting out low production..   Most of the Bordeaux's I tasted averaged at around eighty dollars a bottle, but to be honest, I have tasted many wines from CA, Spain, Italy, and other parts of France, that were just as good or better for half the price.....
So in conclusion to this blog about does price mean better wine, I would have to say more that 70% of the time it is true, but in some cases like Bordeaux or some high priced Napa wines, it would be  about 40%.  
This is all based on my experiences tasting wines over the years and I know you may all feel differently, or maybe the same, but this is  the beauty of the wine biz, that everyone's palate is different and tasting wine is subjective... 
I would love to hear comments on this topic.. and before I close, I would love to recommend wines that over deliver for price, and a few that are overpriced and in my opinion, not worth buying for the money........
Ok, let's start with the bargains:
Artesa Elements, (Napa) Bordeaux style blend:  Recently Artesa dropped the price of this wine from twenty a bottle to fifteen and at twenty, it was very good.. At fifteen, it is extremely good red juice.  I found it on sale four months ago at twelve a bottle and I honestly think you will not find better red wine for twelve dollars a bottle..  I challenge you!!!!
Ventinoux Cote du Rhone, France Red Wine..  Purchased this at Wegmans Supermarket and it was such a smooth easy drinking southern rhone wine.. And here is the best part, it was only six bucks!!!!  Are you kidding me......
Buy it by the case and serve to your friends to impress... They will never guess you paid six dollars......
Now for the Busts:
Opus One, Napa Valley:  I know I will get some flack for this but I was at the winery in August and tasted the 07 with friends and we all agreed........It was a thick, mess of components, with a sweet cloying quality to it.......I would not pay more than $30 for this wine...  I have heard that earlier vintages are different and better,  but still, at $175.00 a bottle, how much better can it get??
Brunello-Italy:  Ok, no specific vineyard or wine but in general after tasting over one hundred Brunello's in the past six months I have one observation to make.....Can you say "OVERPRICED"?  Wow, there are some good ones, but for the most part, they are so dry and austere, you mouth freezes for about a minute before it can recover to normal palate functionality.......  Yes, it is a food wine, and yes, I know it is the better quality Sangiovese clone grape, but it still is tough on the palate.....
To its defence, it is made to be aged and requested to be drunk after a min. of ten to twenty years and when you go to trade tastings the oldest wine you  usually taste is  about 5 to 7 years old......
Similiar situation with Bordeaux.... If Bordeaux's credo is to cellar their wine and taste it twenty or more years later,  then why don't distuibutors or importers do this:   Have one bottle 20 years old of the same 09's they are pouring so you can see that it actually does soften to a silky smooth wine.......Otherwise, you just have to put out the big bucks and hope their right?
Anyway, enough of my commments....... Let's hear yours..... please don't just read, I hope you will  post your comments of your experience on tasting cheap and expensive wines and your evaluation on the subject......

Categories: Wine and Healthy Living

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Reply Ann heimlicher
3:18 PM on March 4, 2012 
This is a wonderful and informative blog. I tend to drink California Chardonnay so it is so nice to think outside the box and sample different wines.

The question you pose very relevant. I think a lot of people ask themselves this same question. Your blog covers this question perfectly. It is nice to have wine experts like yourself recommend what the best valued wines are. Especially in this economy people want good value.

I recently bought some wine at Whole Food for $3 a bottle and if was quite good. I think most people think if the wine is expensive than it must be good which as you pointed out that is not always the case.
Thanks for the tips. I look forward to more.
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