The owner of the Sardine Factory restaurant here is going to open his most expensive bottle of wine this coming New Years Eve, an 1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild red. The owner estimates the wine to be valued at $10,000. How are these prices determined I asked myself, and what is to prevent it being off? Shown here are some 1934 bottles which are selling for over 4,000 apiece.
So who among us has drunk a very expensive, no extremely expensive wine? I have not.
I remember before Boone's Farm came along we drank Mad Dog 20/20. Not sure what that swill was, but man do it make you do crazy things..... Once Boone's Farm came along and had the flavored wines, everything changed. Oh, I do not think I ever had a bottle of wine that cost in excess of $4-500 dollars. I honestly couldn't taste the difference .
You are correct about not needing to break into 3 digits. I have had more expensive wines a couple of times. The most expensive was Opus One for about $250. I was not buying at the time and that is good because while it was an excellent wine, I could not taste the difference between that and wines in the $50-75 range.
Wine is a strange beast. A five dollar bottle is sometimes palatable, most times not. We've all been disappointed by what was touted as an excellent 20 dollar bottle of wine, and thrilled by a fifteen dollar one, I am sure.
What counts is the vintner, the vintage and the willingness of the taster to disassociate the price from the experience.
Recently we were given a 150 dollar Rhone varietal and found it exquisite, beyond words, etc. Was it three times better than the 50 dollar variety? Hard to say since after the first taste the old buds are useless for me!
Many wines exist on the buzz created by Spectator and Mr. Parker's ratings. Each person should decide if they are tasting the reviews of the wine or the wine itself. As they say at Ravenswood, "no wimpy wines!"
I think you summed it up just right. I have purchased many bottles at stores where the retail price was $20-$30 and it was on sale for $10 or less. Thinking it might be a good value, I try it and many times I wouldn't purchase it again for even the sale price. Then you find those gems that are lower in price that you would have paid twice as much for.
I think my favorite type of red wine is nice full-bodied Pinot Noir. The one that stands out the most is a sample we had while we were wine tasting in Napa Valley several years ago. They allowed us to have a sample of a Pinot Noir from the barrel, with a what I think they call a Wine Thief, and it was the richest Pinot Noir I had ever tasted. We put ourselves on the mailing list and they were supposed to contact us when it was bottled, so we could order several bottles. They never contacted us and we didn't remember which winery it was at, so we were so disappointed . That will teach me to make better notes!
Actually, there are a few wineries in the Dundee, OR (southwest of Portland) area that have some nice wines. Also, more and more coming out of Walla Walla, WA, where I grew up. When I was a child there, they only had onions, wheat and fruit orchards there. Now, more and more grapes and vineyards every time we go back to visit.
One CA Pinot I recommend you try is this one from Hahn Estates. Pinot grapes are late comers to Monterey County but vineyards on the east of US 101 have perfect microclimates for growing this varietal.
As you may know, recent revelations in the wine business that Pinots were "watered down" have been surfacing. Hahn still uses estate grown Pinot Grapes and makes an excellent, lower priced Pinot with a nice alcohol content (13.5-14.5%) that is not overpowering. One of their best was the 2007 but it's hard to find these days.
Long live Pinot Noir!!!
Thanks. We'll see what we can find from the Yamhill County area the next time we get back down to that area. My wife spent most of her adult life in Tigard, OR, so we did some tastings down in that area and really found some nice vineyards with pretty rolling hills to look out over. Just as relaxing as looking out from some of the California Vineyards, just with more trees and less neighbors. Thanks for the tips!
When in McMinnville check out the museum that houses the Spruce Goose. Worth a few hours when you're not wine tasting.
Riunite? Something close to that came with a screw top. The first and worst I ever consumed.
The bubbly, Don Perignon, was the best. The price was somewhere around $125 back in 1980 something.
If not champagne, I prefer a nice Merlot. Never paid more than $25, so I guess you could say "nice" is debatable.
Been lucky enough to attend cooking school in Paris, and as a former officer in the oldest and largest food society in the world, The Chaine des Rotisseurs, started in France in 1248 I have had most of the great ones. My single favorite was Chateau d' yquem (Dessert wine, had it at Tony's in Houston, great place) but if had to pick my favorite to buy it's:
TRADER JOE's "TWO BUCK CHUCK", found usually near a Marriott property. (That's so I don't get censored). It is the best I can find for $3 a bottle, and no one I have ever served it too, did not like it.
I've never been lucky enough to try a Château d'Yquem, Jerry, but I am a huge fan of Sauternes and always pick up at least one bottle of Montbazillac when I'm in France.
And SS, I agree that $20 bottles of wine are often the worst. For regular wine drinking, I find that those between $12-15 are sometimes the best.
Our wedding reception was held at the Bolling AFB Officers Club in Washington DC. A friend (new to me but a good one) procured all the spirits, including the Dom Perignon at ridiculously low prices through hid overseas connections. My wife and I had a personal Moet (DP) pourer at the ready, and our glass was never empty. PS the price for 1967 DP was about 7 dollars a bottle, his price.
It is really hard to imagine these low prices in not so distant past, but I know it is true. In 1967 I was paying $90 per semester, including books to go to college. My rent was $30 per month, and I ate on $7.50 per week at a boarding house. What's even better, "I was happy"!
I'm kinda' embarrassed to admit that I only really began drinking wine relatively recently and am a total novice, but, nonetheless.... A nice red wine that even more sophisticated and educated palates seem to enjoy (and though not as cheap as 2 buck Chuck is about $9 on sale and maybe $12-13 when not) is called Menage a Trois (nice name) and is a mix of zin, merlot, and cab sauv by Folie a Deux Winery from St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA.
To have some fun, try a "Blind taste test", with six different red wines. Get some in the range of 2bc to $20/bottle. You will be surprised how many people enjoy the Trader Joe's over the $20 bottle of wine. I have no interest in TJ, and have never bought much there except wine. I have heard that their 2bc is the largest selling wine in the US.
Ah, yes SS...the TJ's on Fred Waring in Palm Desert (or is it just off Fred W.?) We stocked up for the week when there in September. Back here in sunny F-L-A there are folks in the neighborhood that make 2bc runs to Georgia to stock up for everyone...it's a sight as their entire car (SUV) is loaded to the window tops with the stuff! $3 a bottle...$36 or so a case here.
TJ's on Fred that's right. My wife and I hit the place all the time, if only for a sample of two.
Charles Shaw is the name of a person from whom the Bronco Winery bought the name, as I recall. A vintner friend ran the numbers with me over a bottle of his limited edition Zinfandel: Cost of bottle and label=$1.35, shipping=25 cents, etc. So, what is actually inside those bottles? I know it's wine but it certainly is not very expensive to produce, bottle, and ship is it?
Safeway Supermarkets out here had (I think they discontinued it) a cheaper white and red--can't remember the name and never tasted it, it was $1.78 a bottle.
I don't know how I've missed this wine discussion! I can certainly relate to the Mad Dog and Boone's Farm hangovers - isn't that where we all started! Our son has been living in CA for the past 6 years so we have enjoyed many great CA wines. We also have a niece and nephew who have lived in OR, so we have tasted some excellent Pinot Noir. Unfortunately, we live in PA which is an extremely unfriendly state due to state owned and controlled wine and liquor stores. Once in a while we can pick up a bargain, but not often. So sad!
A Marriott property recommendation is the Lodge at Sonoma - beautiful property, great town, wonderful restaurants, and the nearby wineries. Ledson is pricey, but amazing. We also enjoy the wine and food pairings at St Francis - a bargain at $35.
Wine is a subjective drink as I have mentioned and as a former PA resident (too young to drink I might add for the most of my youth) I recall the archane Liquor Stores monopoly and beer distributors as well. Our here in CA we never stop any shop from selling everything and that competition allows places like Safeway supermarkets to have 30% off all wines sales with a further 10% for buying six bottles! That's wholesale!
Anyway, maybe the goog voters of the commonwealth will someday end the seige, repeal the Volstead Act, and send prices to a better level.