Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

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Phil J.
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Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#1 Post by Phil J. » January 8th, 2019, 2:28 pm

Hi,

I am new to the site, and relatively new to drinking decent wine. I have been buying wine online and through a nearby wine store that has an insane selection of wines.

I've tried searching for the difference between Expensive wines, roughly $200+ and moderately priced wines, roughly $40-$150. I haven't really found anything. Every website usually compares cheap wine <$10 wine and expensive wine. But what about the moderate vs expensive wine?

So what is the real difference? For example, even a $150 bottle vs a $500+ bottle?

Thanks (I think this is the correct forum section?)
J a c o b s o n

Brian Gilp
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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#2 Post by Brian Gilp » January 8th, 2019, 6:16 pm

At lower price points there is a connection between cost and price. What point this is will depend on a number of factors so the range is somewhat broad and the cost for a primitive from puglia or a Malbec from Chile is going to be lower cost to produce than a Cabernet from Oakville. But it’s a safe assumption that most wines over $40/btl are not priced based on cost.

So the difference once one crosses the cost basis for pricing is really market demand and market demand is largely based on story. What that story is can be any number of things: history, location, production level, quality, critic scores, or anything else that can be used to set one wine apart from another.

I remember when a California wine maker raised the price of his top of the line reds to $150 a bottle. It was a sizable jump in price and a retailer I know swore it was going to backfire. He was convinced that the market would reject the jump, leaving too much wine to sell and ultimately they would have to discount to move it which would hurt the brand more in the long run. The retailer must have been wrong as those bottles now are priced $200 on release. Is the wine different at $200 than when it was half that price? I don’t know as I haven’t tasted one in many years. This is just one story that I know well but there are many others just like it. Sometimes it’s a single winery and other times a whole region. Prices can move a lot if the market will let it.

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Otto Forsberg
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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#3 Post by Otto Forsberg » January 9th, 2019, 1:23 am

Moderately priced at $150? What? :D

In my books anything with a three-figure price is expensive (apart from some styles, most wines above $75 are already quite expensive) and above $250 are premium wines.

When you get basically 99% of the world's wines at less than $75 per bottle, I think calling $150 as moderate pricing is somewhat skewed. For me moderately priced is something like $20-60, inexpensive is $8-20 and less than $8 is basically dirt cheap stuff that's usually priced as such for a good reason.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#4 Post by Brian Gilp » January 9th, 2019, 3:57 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 1:23 am
Moderately priced at $150? What? :D

In my books anything with a three-figure price is expensive (apart from some styles, most wines above $75 are already quite expensive) and above $250 are premium wines.

When you get basically 99% of the world's wines at less than $75 per bottle, I think calling $150 as moderate pricing is somewhat skewed. For me moderately priced is something like $20-60, inexpensive is $8-20 and less than $8 is basically dirt cheap stuff that's usually priced as such for a good reason.
I don't think the lables used in the OP matter. I think the question is really fairly simple. Once you past the price/cost relationship that exists at the lower end is there any real difference?

I think basically there isn't. It's largely demand driven pricing. But that doesn't negate the point that once higher prices are consistently secured that quality measures can't follow to (somewhat) justify them. When I was in Burgundy a few years ago, my wife and I were watching those plowing their rows with horses. But we didn't see that happen in anything but a Grand Cru vineyard. The additional time is justified by the cost those wines fetch and the story also plays back into the demand for the wine itself as those methods appeal to a segment of the market. In Chablis we saw a lot of tractors working the village level vineyards as would be expected given the price point of those wines.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#5 Post by Jim Stewart » January 9th, 2019, 4:33 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 1:23 am
Moderately priced at $150? What? :D

In my books anything with a three-figure price is expensive (apart from some styles, most wines above $75 are already quite expensive) and above $250 are premium wines.

When you get basically 99% of the world's wines at less than $75 per bottle, I think calling $150 as moderate pricing is somewhat skewed. For me moderately priced is something like $20-60, inexpensive is $8-20 and less than $8 is basically dirt cheap stuff that's usually priced as such for a good reason.
Otto. Thank you! Posts like this help me feel less like a stranger in this strange land of WB. -Jim
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#6 Post by Otto Forsberg » January 9th, 2019, 5:41 am

Brian Gilp wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 3:57 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 1:23 am
Moderately priced at $150? What? :D

In my books anything with a three-figure price is expensive (apart from some styles, most wines above $75 are already quite expensive) and above $250 are premium wines.

When you get basically 99% of the world's wines at less than $75 per bottle, I think calling $150 as moderate pricing is somewhat skewed. For me moderately priced is something like $20-60, inexpensive is $8-20 and less than $8 is basically dirt cheap stuff that's usually priced as such for a good reason.
I don't think the lables used in the OP matter. I think the question is really fairly simple. Once you past the price/cost relationship that exists at the lower end is there any real difference?

I think basically there isn't. It's largely demand driven pricing. But that doesn't negate the point that once higher prices are consistently secured that quality measures can't follow to (somewhat) justify them. When I was in Burgundy a few years ago, my wife and I were watching those plowing their rows with horses. But we didn't see that happen in anything but a Grand Cru vineyard. The additional time is justified by the cost those wines fetch and the story also plays back into the demand for the wine itself as those methods appeal to a segment of the market. In Chablis we saw a lot of tractors working the village level vineyards as would be expected given the price point of those wines.
Since a huge majority of the world's most expensive wines come from Burgundy and the average price even for a simple entry-level wine can be ridiculously high, I really wouldn't use those wines as an example in anything. The world is full of regions where you can't use tractors yet the wines aren't priced at $100s of dollars YET the wineries somehow can make their ends meet - and often making some profit while they're at it. But I do agree that more work-intensive vineyard management and handpicking really wouldn't make much of an impact in simple, inexpensive wines like Chablis and Petit Chablis (I assume these are the vineyards you described as village-level Chablis? Since "Village" level is above the regional appellation and below the 1er Cru leve and there aren't any Village-level vineyards in Chablis).

But I agree that excluding some handfuls of exceptions, the QPR halts quite quickly after the price/cost relationship. A small handful of wines offer something the less expensive wines do not at $50-100 and only a precious few can do that beyond the $250 mark. After that start the premium game where people pay for scarcity and status, not just of the inherent quality of the wine.

I myself prefer to look for the lesser-known producers, regions and wines. To be frank, a great majority of the best wines I've had have been in the price range of $20-60. Although I've had a fair share of more expensive wines, very rarely they manage to actually deliver for the price.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#7 Post by Phil J. » January 9th, 2019, 11:27 am

Brian Gilp wrote:
January 8th, 2019, 6:16 pm
At lower price points there is a connection between cost and price. What point this is will depend on a number of factors so the range is somewhat broad and the cost for a primitive from puglia or a Malbec from Chile is going to be lower cost to produce than a Cabernet from Oakville. But it’s a safe assumption that most wines over $40/btl are not priced based on cost.

So the difference once one crosses the cost basis for pricing is really market demand and market demand is largely based on story. What that story is can be any number of things: history, location, production level, quality, critic scores, or anything else that can be used to set one wine apart from another.

I remember when a California wine maker raised the price of his top of the line reds to $150 a bottle. It was a sizable jump in price and a retailer I know swore it was going to backfire. He was convinced that the market would reject the jump, leaving too much wine to sell and ultimately they would have to discount to move it which would hurt the brand more in the long run. The retailer must have been wrong as those bottles now are priced $200 on release. Is the wine different at $200 than when it was half that price? I don’t know as I haven’t tasted one in many years. This is just one story that I know well but there are many others just like it. Sometimes it’s a single winery and other times a whole region. Prices can move a lot if the market will let it.
Brian Gilp wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 3:57 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 1:23 am
Moderately priced at $150? What? :D

In my books anything with a three-figure price is expensive (apart from some styles, most wines above $75 are already quite expensive) and above $250 are premium wines.

When you get basically 99% of the world's wines at less than $75 per bottle, I think calling $150 as moderate pricing is somewhat skewed. For me moderately priced is something like $20-60, inexpensive is $8-20 and less than $8 is basically dirt cheap stuff that's usually priced as such for a good reason.
I don't think the lables used in the OP matter. I think the question is really fairly simple. Once you past the price/cost relationship that exists at the lower end is there any real difference?

I think basically there isn't. It's largely demand driven pricing. But that doesn't negate the point that once higher prices are consistently secured that quality measures can't follow to (somewhat) justify them. When I was in Burgundy a few years ago, my wife and I were watching those plowing their rows with horses. But we didn't see that happen in anything but a Grand Cru vineyard. The additional time is justified by the cost those wines fetch and the story also plays back into the demand for the wine itself as those methods appeal to a segment of the market. In Chablis we saw a lot of tractors working the village level vineyards as would be expected given the price point of those wines.
Thanks Brian, you hit this on the nail and answered my question: what price point are all brands relatively equal in quality (I understand this is relative to the year purchased and the region).

When going to the store/shopping online there are many levels of price points and I was not sure what is driving that price: sounds as though the driver is cost + markup which depends on demand. This is good to know, as I am not interested in paying for a markup. Also, there are many online retailers that seem to have a common "sale" price for various regions. IE: Napa Valley Cabs @$35.

That said, is it a good idea to purchase lower priced makers in high priced local regions? IE: a lower priced DOCG Borolo will probably be the same quality as a DOCG Borolo from the same year/locale?
J a c o b s o n

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#8 Post by jrozes » January 9th, 2019, 2:54 pm

Phil J. wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 11:27 am
That said, is it a good idea to purchase lower priced makers in high priced local regions? IE: a lower priced DOCG Borolo will probably be the same quality as a DOCG Borolo from the same year/locale?
In my experience, buying bottom-tier producers from top-tier regions is a strategy that rarely pays off. There are certainly exceptions, but usually the reality is that these producers would charge more if their reputations matched that of the region.
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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#9 Post by Barry L i p t o n » January 9th, 2019, 4:50 pm

Agree with the above but there are lower priced regions near higher priced ones. Gattinara, Ghemme, are in Piedminte but don’t command the same price as Barolo.

Likewise Rully and ithers in Burgundy. Buying the best producers in those regions often pays off.

If you are comparing $50-$80 bottles to $100 plus bottles in some regions, the difference could be the amount of new oak. Oak is expensive and I often prefer the regular bottle of Brunello to the riserva because I prefer less oak.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#10 Post by Otto Forsberg » January 10th, 2019, 1:36 am

Phil J. wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 11:27 am

Thanks Brian, you hit this on the nail and answered my question: what price point are all brands relatively equal in quality (I understand this is relative to the year purchased and the region).

When going to the store/shopping online there are many levels of price points and I was not sure what is driving that price: sounds as though the driver is cost + markup which depends on demand. This is good to know, as I am not interested in paying for a markup. Also, there are many online retailers that seem to have a common "sale" price for various regions. IE: Napa Valley Cabs @$35.

That said, is it a good idea to purchase lower priced makers in high priced local regions? IE: a lower priced DOCG Borolo will probably be the same quality as a DOCG Borolo from the same year/locale?
I'd say the best practice is to do vice versa: look for higher-priced wines from low-priced regions. Wines like Barolo, Champagne or Grand Cru Burgundy are always expensive, but the cheap examples are just lousy yet still expensive. Conversely, the expensive wines from cheap regions can be quite affordable yet ridiculously good for the money.

For example the abovementioned Gattinara and Ghemme are often much better than the cheap Barolo and Barbaresco wines yet at the same time can be more affordable.

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#11 Post by Brian Gilp » January 10th, 2019, 3:43 am

I find it hard to make sweeping statements about price and quality. Quality is often as much about individual preferences as it is anything else, assuming sound farming and winemaking. So what I feel is quality you may not. I have found that if I taste through all of the wines that a winery produces that I will generally find their highest priced wine to appeal most to me. But this only happens about 70% of the time so there are many times when I find their lower priced wines to not just be a better bargain but just better wines regardless of price.

I do agree that looking into regions that are less appreciated often offers more value than the more highly coveted wines. But they are also harder to find due to lower customer demand. I often find that only the best producers from those regions are readily imported and the best producers from those areas may still be expensive. Prices for Antoniolo (which I love) can still be more than lower level Barolo.

I believe that most of the best bargains today come from either
A. Old world from underappreciated regions. I find a lot of value in Spain and southern Italy.
B. New world new generation that is just begining to get established and are often working with non-premium grapes (either variety or vineyard source).

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#12 Post by Phil J. » January 10th, 2019, 9:53 am

Sounds like there is a pretty solid consensus that buying strictly from a renowned region does not equal quality. IE: buying a lower priced wine from Rutherford-Napa Valley or Barolo.

What makes up the difference between a top quality Rutherford or a low quality Rutherford, for example?

Assuming both makers are using the same materials and have the same cost to make the wine:

Is it their farming practices? Knowledge about how to make good wine?
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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#13 Post by jrozes » January 10th, 2019, 4:28 pm

Farming is a definitely a big part of it. Quality and quantity/efficiency are opposite ends of the vineyard management spectrum, though the distance between extremes varies somewhat depending on the variety. Winemaking matters too, but there's a saying that great wines are made in the vineyard.
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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#14 Post by Phil J. » January 11th, 2019, 11:15 pm

After some research and tasting “expensive” and high rated wines vs unrated or lower rated, I think at the moment I will just go for wines that do not have the extra markup due to ratings/“quality”, etc.

Seems “quality” is in the eye of the taster and many “top tasters” can’t rate the same wine the same, or even within a few points, when doing blind tastes. Considering price is generally directly correlated with scores, then it is safe to assume price markups much above cost (well made wine) is just a waste of money.

I think Brian is rather spot on:
Brian Gilp wrote:
January 8th, 2019, 6:16 pm
At lower price points there is a connection between cost and price. What point this is will depend on a number of factors so the range is somewhat broad and the cost for a primitive from puglia or a Malbec from Chile is going to be lower cost to produce than a Cabernet from Oakville. But it’s a safe assumption that most wines over $40/btl are not priced based on cost.

So the difference once one crosses the cost basis for pricing is really market demand and market demand is largely based on story. What that story is can be any number of things: history, location, production level, quality, critic scores, or anything else that can be used to set one wine apart from another.

I remember when a California wine maker raised the price of his top of the line reds to $150 a bottle. It was a sizable jump in price and a retailer I know swore it was going to backfire. He was convinced that the market would reject the jump, leaving too much wine to sell and ultimately they would have to discount to move it which would hurt the brand more in the long run. The retailer must have been wrong as those bottles now are priced $200 on release. Is the wine different at $200 than when it was half that price? I don’t know as I haven’t tasted one in many years. This is just one story that I know well but there are many others just like it. Sometimes it’s a single winery and other times a whole region. Prices can move a lot if the market will let it.
J a c o b s o n

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Re: Expensive $200+ vs Moderately priced $40-$150 priced wines?

#15 Post by Kirk.Grant » January 14th, 2019, 2:14 pm

Phil J. wrote:
January 8th, 2019, 2:28 pm
Hi,

I am new to the site, and relatively new to drinking decent wine. I have been buying wine online and through a nearby wine store that has an insane selection of wines.

I've tried searching for the difference between Expensive wines, roughly $200+ and moderately priced wines, roughly $40-$150. I haven't really found anything. Every website usually compares cheap wine <$10 wine and expensive wine. But what about the moderate vs expensive wine?

So what is the real difference? For example, even a $150 bottle vs a $500+ bottle?

Thanks (I think this is the correct forum section?)
Phil, I think anytime you’re talking about wines that are $125+ you’re paying for something very specific. It may be age, when a $25 wine now costs $125 eight years after release. It could be a specific vineyard or limited run from a producer. I think that mostly, what people are paying for is quality, the ability to age, and demand...but quality is in the eye of the beholder.
To put this in context, on a night where we opened a 1995 Musar Rouge ($155 and a long-time favorite of mine) a 2014 Sine Qua Non Syrah ($200+ depending where you look), and a 2005 Reserve Blueberry wine (yep...blueberry) that was $50 on release...the Blueberry wine stole the show in a blind tasting of people that work in the wine industry. Money does not always equate enjoyment...but knowing what you like will always help you make the right decisions.
Cellartracker:Kirk Grant

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