Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wine's Bargain Bin Still Getting Deeper

I've been assembling a case of wine from our son's birth year. The idea is that when he's 21 we'll split it. He has to drink 6 bottles with us, and can do with the other six whatever it is a twenty-one year old does. No one particular wine, no one particular region.

2006 was a pretty good vintage if you're stretching your dollar and looking for wine that'll age for 15-20 years. There was flooding in Napa Valley, but there was a dry and hot stretch that got things mostly back on track. My view is there's only so bad that a bottle of wine from a reasonably distinguished producer can be. I don't drink J Daniel Cuvee or even Jordan Cabernet often enough to appreciate year over year change.

So we started with a few bottles of Bordeaux, and then moved on to California. My wife and I have fond memories of a lot of wines and wineries, and then there are the handful of cult winemakers that I'm cultish about. We maxed out our case before I could even get to Italy or Spain.

And as we get further from 2006, bigger and bigger name wines are finding their way into Wine Dot Com's close out channels. Like their Private Cellar (you can sign up for the emails using that link). You can't see the price for the private cellar wines until you enter a code. I also receive emails from a Wine Dot Com staffer with deals that are pretty good on wine that can be hard to find. You can only buy the wine directly from the email, it won't appear on the website or, at least, won't appear on the website at the same price. It's fairly targeted marketing and I'm falling for it about once a month.

I'm also buying wine that I had previously rationalized as uninteresting mostly because I couldn't afford it. I enjoy Ridge wines, but had always dismissed their Montebello cabernet until it was offered by for well under one hundred dollars a bottle. Similarly Caymus and Stags Leap. Come to think of it, I'd always found Wine Dot Com uninteresting. Their collection wasn't varied enough to keep me engaged, and the price point wasn't great - particularly once you factored in shipping; usually took a gift certificate to get me there.

In April of this year, in a post titled The Coming Carnage in the California Wine Industry, I read about Wine 'til Sold Out for the first time. Checking the link just now, they had an '05 Brunello that Robert Parker had rated at 90 points for 40% off.

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