Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

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Alan Eden
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Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#1 Post by Alan Eden » May 23rd, 2019, 10:01 pm

Why is Napa Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ? is it thinner margins ? some arguments that i dont think are valid

The cost of fruit, only if you buy it, if its your fruit is SB cheaper to farm than cab ?

Cab ages longer, true but thats just a money cost, maybe 8% for the extra 12 months
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#2 Post by Gary York » May 23rd, 2019, 10:18 pm

Because people will only pay so much for Napa SB. When you think about SB, Napa is certainly toward the bottom for me.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#3 Post by Joe Mendez » May 23rd, 2019, 10:26 pm

More demand for napa cabs, less demand for SB, so they can charge more for napa cabs.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#4 Post by Alan Eden » May 23rd, 2019, 10:27 pm

Gary York wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 10:18 pm
Because people will only pay so much for Napa SB. When you think about SB, Napa is certainly toward the bottom for me.
So therefore the difference between SB and cab is pure profit ?
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#5 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s » May 23rd, 2019, 10:29 pm

Napa cabernet sauvignon sells for about 3 times the price of sauvignon blanc per average ton. The better regarded CS fruit sells for even far greater ratios. It will show in the bottle price regardless of purchased or farmed fruit.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#6 Post by Gerhard P. » May 23rd, 2019, 11:06 pm

In Styria/Austria Sauvignon blanc is usually the most expensive variety, slightly more than Morillon (Chardonnay) and definitely more than Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Welschriesling and Traminer.
It depends (imho) on the final quality which is very much depending on the terroir of a region. SB is perfect for the soil and climate here in Styria and the results are world-class.

BTW: also in Pessac-Leognan SB (together with Semillon) is quite expensive now, think of Haut-Brion blanc and LMHB ....
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#7 Post by PeterJ » May 24th, 2019, 12:01 am

In the past my asking this question was answered with the response that the yield of SB is much greater than with Cab so per ton cost is 1/2 to 1/3. Add the difference between oak and stainless steel (in most cases) + time to market and it starts to make sense....... assuming all that is true.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#8 Post by Jeremy Holmes » May 24th, 2019, 12:21 am

Its the cat's pee. Rips at least a hungie off every bottle.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#9 Post by Jason T » May 24th, 2019, 1:51 am

I’m not sure about the cost to farm but certainly cheaper to produce. Far shorter holding periods, and in many cases no oak.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#10 Post by James Billy » May 24th, 2019, 2:01 am

PeterJ wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:01 am
In the past my asking this question was answered with the response that the yield of SB is much greater than with Cab so per ton cost is 1/2 to 1/3. Add the difference between oak and stainless steel (in most cases) + time to market and it starts to make sense....... assuming all that is true.
Sounds very reasonable to me.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#11 Post by James Billy » May 24th, 2019, 2:05 am

Also, it grows on terroir where you can't produce decent cabernet. You can grow sauvignon (or similar) or you can leave the land empty. Any profit is better than nothing.

Also, there is a demand for it, so why not meet it? Not everyone like/wants to drink cab (all the time.)

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#12 Post by John Morris » May 24th, 2019, 10:42 am

PeterJ wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:01 am
In the past my asking this question was answered with the response that the yield of SB is much greater than with Cab so per ton cost is 1/2 to 1/3. Add the difference between oak and stainless steel (in most cases) + time to market and it starts to make sense....... assuming all that is true.
I think you've covered the reasons.

Even if it is aged in oak, it won't be for 18 months, or whatever is standard for cabernet, so the investment in barrels is much less.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#13 Post by John Morris » May 24th, 2019, 10:48 am

Alan Eden wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 10:01 pm
Cab ages longer, true but thats just a money cost, maybe 8% for the extra 12 months
With time in barrel and bottle, it's probably an extra two years for cab before release.

Since winemaking is capital intensive (land, facilities, barrels, inventory of aging wine), I don't think it's just a matter of the cost of borrowed money. Lenders generally want some assurance of cash flow before they'll lend, and whites that don't require much aging provide that. It's a common issue in businesses: You need some inventory you can turn over quickly to cover the cost of keeping other, more expensive products in inventory. It's just as true of furniture stores and car dealers.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#14 Post by John Morris » May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am

FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#15 Post by A. So » May 24th, 2019, 11:31 am

Because it sucks
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#16 Post by T Fletcher » May 24th, 2019, 11:40 am

John Morris wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am
FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
Complete thread drift so apologies, but I'm curious as to the source of this.

And also, just for me to understand, is this simply the fruit alone, e.g. if I were to enter into contract to purchase an "average ton of Napa CS" it would be $7,500?

I'd be very curious to see the variation in pricing across Napa but my guess is quite a bit of that information isn't publicized.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#17 Post by Alan Eden » May 24th, 2019, 11:50 am

John Morris wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am
FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
Interesting that Zin is higher than Pinot yet Zin's are generally the cheapest wines. I still dont see what cost per ton matters if you own the vines
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#18 Post by Paul Luckin » May 24th, 2019, 12:11 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 11:50 am
John Morris wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am
FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
Interesting that Zin is higher than Pinot yet Zin's are generally the cheapest wines. I still dont see what cost per ton matters if you own the vines
Vineyard maintenance & management, insurance, Property tax, labor during harvest, etc.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#19 Post by Hank Victor » May 24th, 2019, 12:16 pm

Fruit is cheaper and it is also released every year for a consistent cash flow.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#20 Post by Hank Victor » May 24th, 2019, 12:19 pm

T Fletcher wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 11:40 am
John Morris wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am
FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
Complete thread drift so apologies, but I'm curious as to the source of this.

And also, just for me to understand, is this simply the fruit alone, e.g. if I were to enter into contract to purchase an "average ton of Napa CS" it would be $7,500?

I'd be very curious to see the variation in pricing across Napa but my guess is quite a bit of that information isn't publicized.
Napa County
2017 Trend 2016 2015 2017 High 2017 Low
Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509 + $6,829 $6,288 $50,000 $1,000
Pinot Noir $2,798 + $2,779 $2,713 $8,103 $600
Merlot $3,387 + $3,352 $3,135 $22,106 $400
Zinfandel $3,623 + $3,520 $3,390 $7,367 $300
Syrah $3,738 + $3,591 $3,234 $7,500 $1,800
Chardonnay $2,809 + $2,673 $2,592 $9,084 $1,000
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279 + $2,142 $2,012 $5,586 $1,025

https://vineyardandwinerysales.com/blog ... pe-prices/

Formatting is better on the website but the point is that somebody paid $50,000 for a ton of Napa Cab in 2017.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#21 Post by Markus S » May 24th, 2019, 12:47 pm

Doesn't look cheap to me:


2006 Chateau Laville Haut Brion Blanc $499.00

2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc $119.00

Haut Brion Blanc 2017 $849.00
$ _ € ® e . k @

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#22 Post by Dale Williams » May 24th, 2019, 7:26 pm

Markus S wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:47 pm
Doesn't look cheap to me:


2006 Chateau Laville Haut Brion Blanc $499.00

2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc $119.00

Haut Brion Blanc 2017 $849.00
LavilleHB and HBB are mostly Semillon, no?
Though I get the point

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#23 Post by PeterH » May 24th, 2019, 8:52 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 7:26 pm
Markus S wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:47 pm
Doesn't look cheap to me:


2006 Chateau Laville Haut Brion Blanc $499.00

2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc $119.00

Haut Brion Blanc 2017 $849.00
LavilleHB and HBB are mostly Semillon, no?
Though I get the point
Yup, No one wants to pay a lot for a new world Semillion either. As a result, few growers or wine makers are willing to put in the extra effort to get as much as possible from the variety.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#24 Post by S. Rash » May 24th, 2019, 9:22 pm

Napa Valley has great QPR on their SB! I prefer it any day over New Zealand SB. Fuller-bodied, more texture!!
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#25 Post by David Cooper » May 24th, 2019, 9:34 pm

James Billy wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 2:05 am
Also, it grows on terroir where you can't produce decent cabernet. You can grow sauvignon (or similar) or you can leave the land empty. Any profit is better than nothing.

Also, there is a demand for it, so why not meet it? Not everyone like/wants to drink cab (all the time.)
Absolutly this.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#26 Post by Rboinski » May 24th, 2019, 9:38 pm

PeterJ wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:01 am
In the past my asking this question was answered with the response that the yield of SB is much greater than with Cab so per ton cost is 1/2 to 1/3. Add the difference between oak and stainless steel (in most cases) + time to market and it starts to make sense....... assuming all that is true.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#28 Post by dsimmons » May 25th, 2019, 2:54 pm

A. So wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 11:31 am
Because it sucks
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#29 Post by Mel Knox » May 25th, 2019, 5:31 pm

Once they taught cats to pee in the filler bowl, the price of SB went way down. This technique was invented in New Zealand but has now spread all over. Getting them to pee in the bottle was tricky and quite expensive.

The story nobody likes to discuss is MegaPee. Since it's made in New Zealand, it cannot be used here unless you want your appellation to be "Planet Earth'.
Supposedly the people at Davis are working on an American version. That's the advantage of having a veterinary school around the corner.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#30 Post by B. Buzzini » May 25th, 2019, 5:44 pm

Hmmm?🤔
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#31 Post by Wes Barton » May 25th, 2019, 8:35 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 11:50 am
John Morris wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:58 am
FYI, here are 2017 average prices per ton for different varieties in Napa:

Cabernet Sauvignon $7,509
Pinot Noir $2,798
Merlot $3,387
Zinfandel $3,623
Syrah $3,738
Chardonnay $2,809
Sauvignon Blanc $2,279

And that's before the cost of barrels and aging.
Interesting that Zin is higher than Pinot yet Zin's are generally the cheapest wines. I still dont see what cost per ton matters if you own the vines
Cost per ton has a direct relation to bottle price (and land value). If a grower sees winemakers charging more than expected in relation to the grape price, they will take that as meaning their grapes are worth more, and up the price. There's a pure economic reality there. Market price of the wines determines how much the grapes cost. Estate wineries still (often) buy and sell fruit, and make decisions what to plant, what to graft over, etc.

Note that most or all of the best, by far, Napa SBs are list-only estate wines. Not cheap. Think $60-120. That implies a value not factored in the above averages.

Napa Zin is going to be old vines being preserved for their quality, so should, by their continued existence, be well above average in quality and price.

Napa Pinot is mostly Carneros, and a bit up in Wild Horse Valley. Not the most prized PN regions.

A rule of thumb is a wine retails for about 1/100 of the tonnage cost.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#32 Post by David Glasser » May 26th, 2019, 7:45 am

Gary York wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 10:18 pm
Because people will only pay so much for Napa SB. When you think about SB, Napa is certainly toward the bottom for me.
First answer still the simplest and most logical to me. No demand for Napa or NZ SB at higher prices. Yields, cost of grapes, etc. affect cost of production, but if people clamored for it, SB would sell for more.

Screagle is the exception that proves the rule, and that some people have more dollars than sense. I don’t think the OP was considering Bordeaux.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#33 Post by John Morris » May 26th, 2019, 7:51 am

Dale Williams wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 7:26 pm
Markus S wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:47 pm
Doesn't look cheap to me:


2006 Chateau Laville Haut Brion Blanc $499.00

2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc $119.00

Haut Brion Blanc 2017 $849.00
LavilleHB and HBB are mostly Semillon, no?
Though I get the point
71% and 51%, respectively:
https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bo ... eaux-wine/
https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bo ... aut-brion/
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#34 Post by John Morris » May 26th, 2019, 7:53 am

Mel Knox wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 5:31 pm
Once they taught cats to pee in the filler bowl, the price of SB went way down. This technique was invented in New Zealand but has now spread all over. Getting them to pee in the bottle was tricky and quite expensive.

The story nobody likes to discuss is MegaPee. Since it's made in New Zealand, it cannot be used here unless you want your appellation to be "Planet Earth'.
Supposedly the people at Davis are working on an American version. That's the advantage of having a veterinary school around the corner.
I never cease to learn new things from you, Mel.
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#35 Post by brigcampbell » May 26th, 2019, 8:35 am

I wonder what kind of tonnage per acre the guys in NZ are getting. Has to be enormous to produce $6 SB retail in the US.

BTW - I like it.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#36 Post by Jim Brennan » May 26th, 2019, 8:45 am

Markus S wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:47 pm
Doesn't look cheap to me:


2006 Chateau Laville Haut Brion Blanc $499.00

2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc $119.00

Haut Brion Blanc 2017 $849.00
The grape could be Catawba and people would be conned by the Bordeaux marketing machine that it's the best thing since sliced bread. The most remarkable thing about Bordeaux white wines is what people pay for them.

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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#37 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » May 26th, 2019, 8:53 am

dsimmons wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 2:54 pm
A. So wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 11:31 am
Because it sucks
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Re: Why is Sauv Blanc so much cheaper ?

#38 Post by Mel Knox » May 26th, 2019, 9:23 am

John,
I am always here for you and your education.

While there are certain cost issues relating to SB that can keep it cheaper than other varieties--yield, fermentation and ageing in stainless, rapid turnover-- there is also the question of status. French SB wines --and I include the whites of the Graves region even tho Semillon and Muscadelle are also used--tend to reflect this. Haut Brion Blanc and several other white Graves are very expensive but around the same area are excellent and low priced whites. Remember Pavillon Blanc du Ch Margaux?? Do they still make it?? For the quality it was quite expensive.

Domaine Didier Dagueneau wines are expensive. Ditto Ladoucette. Didier started his domaine, he once told me, because he felt Ladoucette was paying him slowly while charging extra for cuvees that were randomly chosen. Sancerre used to be a 'luncheon' wine and was not very expensive. Then it got more expensive and more prestigious. What happened there?? Calling all Veblen scholars! Yet there are excellent SBs from northern France that are reasonably priced.

Is it quality or prestige that determine these prices??
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