Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

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TomHill
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Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#1 Post by TomHill » August 14th, 2019, 5:12 am

Interesting article by RHDrexel on Jeb's Site:
Dunnuck/Downstream
about the Downstream project w/ Justin/SashaVerhage/PhillipeCambie.
He celebrates the fact that the wine is priced at $200/btl.
What I found interesting is that Justin's son has made a GWT from Stolo fruit. That is such a great vnyd.
Tom

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#2 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 14th, 2019, 6:39 am

These quotes.....

“Cambie brings his nearly savant-like talent to Downstream.“

Savant is not what I would call it.


“Philippe likes to come through right when things are done with malo, usually in early spring and before we’ve blended up our wines, when things are still in individual lots. We put about thirty-two different lots in front of him in groups of four – four Zinfandel lots, four Mataro lots, and so on. He writes his notes down, and then just says, ‘I want 600 L of this, and 400 L of that and 200 L of that.’” Smith says Cambie’s decisions are definitive, and he doesn’t change his mind. When Smith and Verhage tasted the final 2016 – their debut release – Smith says they looked at each other and said “How did he do that?!” Smith describes it as “delicious and ready-to-go.”

And my favorite:

“Grape racism”.

"@lf3rt was clearly raised in an outhouse in the Loire. . . ."

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#3 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 6:58 am

Fascinating article Tom - thanks.

I’m probably one of the few who also celebrates (somewhat perversely) the pricing of this Zin-based offering.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#4 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 14th, 2019, 7:00 am

Sorry Mike, that’s ridiculous.

It’s a marketing gimmick as much as a wine.

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#5 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 7:06 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:00 am
Sorry Mike, that’s ridiculous.

It’s a marketing gimmick as much as a wine.
Luxury wine is a marketing gimmick Robert - including that fancy stuff you get from France! pileon

Grape racism! The brilliance of Zinfandel has been there for all to see all along. I appreciate the recognition.
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Dusi Fruit..

#6 Post by TomHill » August 14th, 2019, 7:27 am

What was interesting is the Zin is based on Dusi fruit.
I'm assuming that that's DantaDusi vnyd rather than BeniDusi vnyd, which is the
better of the two.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#7 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 7:42 am

Turley controls most of the Zin in the Paso area - there are only a few outstanding old vine locations here. Downstream is also getting Zin from Paderewski Vineyard, an excellent young-vine site. Love to see them get some Ueberroth or Pesenti fruit for Cambi to play with, although both Dusi's can be outstanding.

The other recognition I appreciated in that article was for Stolo! What a brilliant operation. Just wish they produced a Zin! [wink.gif]
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Nope...

#8 Post by TomHill » August 14th, 2019, 7:48 am

M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:42 am
Turley controls most of the Zin in the Paso area - there are only a few outstanding old vine locations here. Downstream is also getting Zin from Paderewski Vineyard, an excellent young-vine site. Love to see them get some Ueberroth or Pesenti fruit for Cambi to play with, although both Dusi's can be outstanding.
The other recognition I appreciated in that article was for Stolo! What a brilliant operation. Just wish they produced a Zin! [wink.gif]
Nope, Mike....way too cold to grow Zin (reliably) out there in Cambria. But I would love to see them do Riesling.
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Re: Nope...

#9 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 9:20 am

TomHill wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:48 am
M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:42 am
Turley controls most of the Zin in the Paso area - there are only a few outstanding old vine locations here. Downstream is also getting Zin from Paderewski Vineyard, an excellent young-vine site. Love to see them get some Ueberroth or Pesenti fruit for Cambi to play with, although both Dusi's can be outstanding.
The other recognition I appreciated in that article was for Stolo! What a brilliant operation. Just wish they produced a Zin! [wink.gif]
Nope, Mike....way too cold to grow Zin (reliably) out there in Cambria. But I would love to see them do Riesling.
Tom
You're probably correct Tom, but is the Cambria location significantly cooler than Eric Sussman's Sonoma Coast Lemorel Vineyard? In any case, I agree with you, I'd love to see a Riesling from the Stolo team.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#10 Post by Anton D » August 14th, 2019, 9:24 am

M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:06 am
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:00 am
Sorry Mike, that’s ridiculous.

It’s a marketing gimmick as much as a wine.
Luxury wine is a marketing gimmick Robert - including that fancy stuff you get from France! pileon

Grape racism! The brilliance of Zinfandel has been there for all to see all along. I appreciate the recognition.
I will dissent in that I don't like when a favorite grape or label gets 'hot' with the wine hipsters. It costs me money.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#11 Post by Nate Simon » August 14th, 2019, 9:28 am

Easy pass.

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Re: Nope...

#12 Post by TomHill » August 14th, 2019, 9:46 am

M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 9:20 am
TomHill wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:48 am
M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:42 am
Turley controls most of the Zin in the Paso area - there are only a few outstanding old vine locations here. Downstream is also getting Zin from Paderewski Vineyard, an excellent young-vine site. Love to see them get some Ueberroth or Pesenti fruit for Cambi to play with, although both Dusi's can be outstanding.
The other recognition I appreciated in that article was for Stolo! What a brilliant operation. Just wish they produced a Zin! [wink.gif]
Nope, Mike....way too cold to grow Zin (reliably) out there in Cambria. But I would love to see them do Riesling.
Tom
You're probably correct Tom, but is the Cambria location significantly cooler than Eric Sussman's Sonoma Coast Lemorel Vineyard? In any case, I agree with you, I'd love to see a Riesling from the Stolo team.
I would guess so. I think they have more coastal fog at Stolo than up on OccidentalRidge. In yrs that they could get the grapes ripe, I suspect
it would be terrific Zin. But that'd probably be only 2-4 yrs out of 10. Bruce McGuire/SantaBarbaraWnry used to have Zin planted out on SantaRosaRd in the
SantaRitaHills. But he pulled them because he could only ripen them 2-3 yrs out of 10 to make a dry Zin. The other yrs, he'd leave them on the
vine until they dessicated enough to make a Zin Essence. But a mighty fine Essence it was.
Tom

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#13 Post by GregT » August 14th, 2019, 10:06 am

I am glad the Downstream wines are priced at $200.00 a bottle. Why shouldn’t a bottle that is largely Zinfandel or Grenache from the United States command that price? If extremely well-farmed and well-made, shouldn’t these wines merit as much as a fine Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir? There’s long been a kind of grape racism that exists among the trade. Unfortunately, certain buyers and sommeliers have tried to pass this perception along to the consumer. It’s silly, really, that people would place a value judgment on a product of nature. It’s like me saying, “Passion fruit juice is really where it’s at. If you like mango juice, then you’re a loser. You don’t have good taste.” Value judgments like these are arbitrary in the end.

Especially guilty of these types of value judgments are a particular brand of “influencer” (what an awful word) and “gatekeeper” (thankfully, these change nearly every year) who hold Old World wines, particularly Burgundy, in such high esteem that they’d rather disparage other varieties, and domestic wines in general, than step outside of their comfort zone to try something new. When they’re trying to impress colleagues, they’ll show up to an event with an expensive Burgundy.
I completely agree with him that it's silly Burgundy is seen as somehow being worth far more money than anything else.

But how does that make you glad there's a Zin for $200 a bottle?

"If other wines are overpriced then I want this wine to be overpriced too."

What a dumb conclusion.

It's why I don't read most of those blogs.

I think it's horrible that it's only $200. It should be far, far more costly. The idea that we don't have some Zin out there worth at least $2500 is ridiculous.

All wine should be at least $200 a bottle.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#14 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 10:32 am

Obviously, no consumer likes higher prices for the sake of higher prices.

To me, it's a matter of recognition. It wasn't too long ago that Zinfandel sites were seen primarily as fodder for white Zin, replanting to Pinot and Chard, and commercial real estate ventures.

Winemakers like Joel Peterson, Joe Swan, and Paul Draper (and others) recognized and demonstrated that the grape could be much more than that.

I abhor cult wines and have never purchased one. I could care less about the wood box and the rock-star French blending savant. This is not what I'd call an old-vine Zin (even though it has some in it).

Zin is my first wine love, however, and I've always considered the grape to be as worthy as any. Old vine Zin is costly to maintain and produce and has very low yields. The only thing that keeps the vines in the ground is a customer who values the product. Perhaps the Downstream project will provide a little bit of customer recognition/appreciation.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#15 Post by Michael Martin » August 14th, 2019, 10:44 am

I love Zins too and last night had a phenomenal $31 one.

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#16 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 10:47 am

Michael Martin wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:44 am
I love Zins too and last night had a phenomenal $31 one.
There is no shortage of beautiful, affordable Zinfandel available. And ... as with other great wine grape varieties, there is room for consumer choices at all points on the price spectrum.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#17 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 14th, 2019, 10:48 am

M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:32 am
Perhaps the Downstream project will provide a little bit of customer recognition/appreciation.

I’m with you on the appreciation of Old Vine Zin and field blends. I love watching Morgon in action with his quest to not only promote and preserve the historic vineyards, but equally important, getting them into the hands of customers that can both afford and appreciate what he is doing. And he is doing a magnificent job of it. This “Zinfrankenstein” by Cambie is the exact opposite of what I would like to see, where the grape gets attention because of the marketing and packaging, the involvement of someone like Cambie, and invariably, one of the ubiquitous critics anointing the wine with some stupid high score. Give me the honest, transparent, $30-$40 Zin that wallows in so-called obscurity, languishing in the critic’s kiss-of-death scoring range of 90-93, any day of the week.

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#18 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 10:59 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:48 am
M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:32 am
Perhaps the Downstream project will provide a little bit of customer recognition/appreciation.

I’m with you on the appreciation of Old Vine Zin and field blends. I love watching Morgon in action with his quest to not only promote and preserve the historic vineyards, but equally important, getting them into the hands of customers that can both afford and appreciate what he is doing. And he is doing a magnificent job of it. This “Zinfrankenstein” by Cambie is the exact opposite of what I would like to see, where the grape gets attention because of the marketing and packaging, the involvement of someone like Cambie, and invariably, one of the ubiquitous critics anointing the wine with some stupid high score. Give me the honest, transparent, $30-$40 Zin that wallows in so-called obscurity, languishing in the critic’s kiss-of-death scoring range of 90-93, any day of the week.
Robert, I hear you and your Zin focus is the exact same as mine. I just think that there is room in the marketplace for a luxury Zin blend, just as there is for ultra-premium Cabs, cab blends, syrahs, pinots ...
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#19 Post by J a y H a c k » August 14th, 2019, 11:00 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 6:39 am
These quotes.....

“Cambie brings his nearly savant-like talent to Downstream.“

Savant is not what I would call it.


“Philippe likes to come through right when things are done with malo, usually in early spring and before we’ve blended up our wines, when things are still in individual lots. We put about thirty-two different lots in front of him in groups of four – four Zinfandel lots, four Mataro lots, and so on. He writes his notes down, and then just says, ‘I want 600 L of this, and 400 L of that and 200 L of that.’” Smith says Cambie’s decisions are definitive, and he doesn’t change his mind. When Smith and Verhage tasted the final 2016 – their debut release – Smith says they looked at each other and said “How did he do that?!” Smith describes it as “delicious and ready-to-go.”

And my favorite:

“Grape racism”.
Just stay out of this thread. We know that you think both Cambie and Smith are twin sons of Lucifer because they manage to make wine out of CndP varieties without them tasting like an outhouse in the Loire.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#20 Post by larry schaffer » August 14th, 2019, 11:00 am

This is not the first time I have heard the concept of 'charging higher prices to gain greater recognition'. There is a producer in the Happy Canyon AVA who has a $250 cab - feeling that their wines are 'just as good' as those from up north. And we see that with Paso Cab producers as well.

This is a bit different though. I too agree that Zin is certainly 'under-appreciated' by most consumers - but highlighting the price rather than the wine is a bit strange to me. I'm interested in trying the wine for sure - I've known Sasha for quite some time and he is as passionate as can be about rhone varieties; have not had many Cambie wines but curious to try for sure. Now I'm just hoping that good friends purchase it so I can do so.

Is there room in the market for an ultra-premium zin and/or a zin blend? Sure - there's a market for ANYTHING these days.

The reality - as long as they keep production relatively low and keep buzz high, they will have no problem selling out. The question - will others follow and where will that leave pricing in the future?

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#21 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 11:03 am

J a y H a c k wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 11:00 am
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 6:39 am
These quotes.....

“Cambie brings his nearly savant-like talent to Downstream.“

Savant is not what I would call it.


“Philippe likes to come through right when things are done with malo, usually in early spring and before we’ve blended up our wines, when things are still in individual lots. We put about thirty-two different lots in front of him in groups of four – four Zinfandel lots, four Mataro lots, and so on. He writes his notes down, and then just says, ‘I want 600 L of this, and 400 L of that and 200 L of that.’” Smith says Cambie’s decisions are definitive, and he doesn’t change his mind. When Smith and Verhage tasted the final 2016 – their debut release – Smith says they looked at each other and said “How did he do that?!” Smith describes it as “delicious and ready-to-go.”

And my favorite:

“Grape racism”.
Just stay out of this thread. We know that you think both Cambie and Smith are twin sons of Lucifer because they manage to make wine out of CndP varieties without them tasting like an outhouse in the Loire.
Take that Mr. Alfert! [worship.gif]
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#22 Post by M. Dildine » August 14th, 2019, 11:14 am

If you think about it, the Paso/Central Coast area has been a successful incubator for a number of successful Southern Rhonish luxury blends - Grenache, GSM, etc. Not sure what the push-back is as to Zin being included in this company.

Would the world be a better place without SQN, Alban, Saxum ...
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#23 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 14th, 2019, 11:39 am

I have been Hacked! Or is that Hack-Smacked?!
Last edited by Robert.A.Jr. on August 14th, 2019, 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#24 Post by Steve Crawford » August 14th, 2019, 11:39 am

the article sorta reads like an ad, to be honest.
im all for them charging whatever they think they can get.
with that being said, the forced set and magnum inclusion is not my cup of tea.

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#25 Post by S. Rash » August 14th, 2019, 11:51 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:48 am
M. Dildine wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:32 am
Perhaps the Downstream project will provide a little bit of customer recognition/appreciation.

I’m with you on the appreciation of Old Vine Zin and field blends. I love watching Morgon in action with his quest to not only promote and preserve the historic vineyards, but equally important, getting them into the hands of customers that can both afford and appreciate what he is doing. And he is doing a magnificent job of it. This “Zinfrankenstein” by Cambie is the exact opposite of what I would like to see, where the grape gets attention because of the marketing and packaging, the involvement of someone like Cambie, and invariably, one of the ubiquitous critics anointing the wine with some stupid high score. Give me the honest, transparent, $30-$40 Zin that wallows in so-called obscurity, languishing in the critic’s kiss-of-death scoring range of 90-93, any day of the week.
Absolutely agree!!
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#26 Post by Cris Whetstone » August 14th, 2019, 12:22 pm

What Greg said.

It would be horrible/hilarious if there was a sudden surge in triple digit Zinfandel after all these years of sneers.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#27 Post by Gabe Berk » August 14th, 2019, 12:51 pm

When you add up the cost of land in California, building costs, purchased fruit, consultants, equipment, packaging, insurance, marketing, etc. its easy to see why "new" wineries or projects come out the gate with $200+ bottlings. Owners are hedging their bets that they can produce a wine of great quality with profitable margins regardless of the varietal. Case in point Napa Valley Grenache for $250 a bottle. $175 a bottle Roussane blend in Ventura. Or in this case $200 Zin from Paso. When people are continually buying Cab/Merlot blends in Bordeaux or Chard and Pinot in Burgundy for $300-$3,500 a bottle, they need to realize they are part of the reason these "new kids" prices exist in the first place. Don't hate the player, hate the game...

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#28 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 14th, 2019, 12:57 pm

Or better yet, don’t play the game. There is a huge universe of excellent wine under $50. It takes a special wine, or moment, for me to pay over $100 for a bottle.

"@lf3rt was clearly raised in an outhouse in the Loire. . . ."

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#29 Post by Michael Martin » August 14th, 2019, 1:04 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 12:57 pm
Or better yet, don’t play the game. There is a huge universe of excellent wine under $50. It takes a special wine, or moment, for me to pay over $100 for a bottle.
[cheers.gif]

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#30 Post by Peter Valiquette » August 14th, 2019, 3:36 pm

He's all excited about a $200 zin. Does the label even say Zinfandel?

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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#31 Post by Greg K » August 14th, 2019, 3:50 pm

I would be delighted if Zinfandel became the hot new thing that Instagram influencers were bringing to wine parties*. Maybe it'll remove attention from some of the wines I like that are getting too expensive. Why only $200? Cambie and Saxum and Zinfandel? $400 at least!
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#32 Post by Albert R » August 14th, 2019, 5:38 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 12:57 pm
Or better yet, don’t play the game. There is a huge universe of excellent wine under $50. It takes a special wine, or moment, for me to pay over $100 for a bottle.
+1,000 newhere
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#33 Post by GregT » August 14th, 2019, 6:47 pm

+1001

I understand that the new players have investments that need to be recouped, etc., and Zin is one grape that is under-appreciated by many people, perhaps because it's so frequently been made into a big, jammy style. (Nothing like the wines Cambie makes, right?)

As to the Saxums and Albans and such - I don't buy those either. They cost more than wines I prefer.
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#34 Post by Adam Frisch » August 14th, 2019, 8:22 pm

One of my Lodi growers can't get rid of his old Zin for love or money. He's begging me to take it off his hands for $700/ton. Literally 1hr away by car in Napa, the same damn Zin is $5K+/ton. Is Napa Zin 7-10 times better than Lodi Zin? It's like terroir madness has descended on the collective mind of wine buyers. But then, all of a sudden, Teqan/Turley makes some nice old vine Zin from Lodi and - like magic! - we're willing to pay $80 per bottle for it. Or $200 for Paso Robles Zin when Saxum is involved.

So "shitty" fruit from an uncool area can make great wine with the right winemaker, right? But then Napa/Sonoma tells us, byt the virtue of their fruit prices, that only the good fruit from their very specific region, with just the right conditions, with just the right soil, is what makes good wines. So what is it - terroir matters or winemaking? We need to make up our mind. The wine community seems very confused when it comes to this point.
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

Owner, proprietor and winemaker (with a little help) at Sabelli-Frisch Wines. I make wine from low-impact vineyards, focus on rare, forgotten, under-appreciated or historic grape varietals. Mission grape is my main red focus. IG: sabellifrisch

markjchambers
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#35 Post by markjchambers » August 16th, 2019, 4:45 pm

When Saxum Paderewski came out, i thought that was ground breaking at $97 a bottle. It is good, but so are single vineyard Carlisle and Bedrock for half the price which is ¼ the price of Downstream.

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Adam Henkel
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Re: Dunnuck: Downstream w/ JustinSmith

#36 Post by Adam Henkel » August 19th, 2019, 10:25 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 11:00 am
This is not the first time I have heard the concept of 'charging higher prices to gain greater recognition'. There is a producer in the Happy Canyon AVA who has a $250 cab - feeling that their wines are 'just as good' as those from up north.
[snort.gif]
itb

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