Ridiculous. Aspirational pricing to say the least. One bottle of their lovely high end can versus a magnum of Ducru-Beaucaillou or a 3-pack of Lynch Bages, just as an example. Or a 3-pack of 2013 Forman. I like Napa Cab but hate where the pricing has gone, both for new wines and many old.
I think Larkmead makes some pretty great wine. I too am unhappy with the price increases in recent years. Interesting that these prices are considered a big negative for Larkmead, whereas the board can’t wait to get their hands on other napa wines at this same price points.
What are the other $300 Napa cabs to which you refer? I am not on the list for Realm, Greer, Macdonald or Shafer HSS, but my understanding is that they are all well below that for their top wines. Myriad, R-M, Piper, all of which get a lot of love here, are below $200 for their top wines. Blue chip Napa cabs with outstanding track records that span decades, including Heitz Martha’s, Insignia, Corison, Forman. Dunn, Togni and most others don’t approach that price. If you want to throw Bond out there, you can but I find their prices equally insulting.
Noah, I think you are looking at Jim’s post in the wrong light. I think he’s talking more about Fairchild Stone’s 1 and 2, more than the ones you list.
FWIW, Larkmead was vastly underpriced for a long, long time. Not that I’m trying to justify the price increases, but I also believe the wines they made in 2013 are the best they’ve made yet. They also wanted to put more wines in distribution, and if they didn’t raise their prices, they would have been losing money doing that, which explains part of the increase too.
That may be a fair assessment, and getting wines into distribution certainly increases Larkmead’s visibility - as an historic estate, they fly very much under the radar. And I haven’t heard much about Fairchild Stone on this board, nor Futo, nor Scarecrow, nor Hundred Acre, nor a few others at that price point or above. And I’ve heard relatively derision about Promontory. Perhaps that represents the membership of this board more than anything else.
But honestly, I love Napa cabs, but not at that price. For a small distribution wine, perhaps you can get away with selling at those prices, and many have done so. I find $300 for a Napa cab, when there are so many similar ones out there (and you really can’t tell me that, qualitatively, Larkmead’s top wines are head and shoulders above, say R-M Lore or Myriad Dr. Crane ,etc), completely offensive, and almost as offensive as $150 for Napa Cabs from boutique winemakers who bought their way into Napa and charge that for their first vintage from purchased grapes. It’s the whole culture that’s off.
Will be interesting to see if the money they lose from mailing list members dropping off the list (with big margins) will be made up for by profits from sales into broader distribution channels. If there is no Parker or other comparable cheerleader for future vintages, this could prove to be a painful endeavor. Can’t see $150 and $300 wines flying off shelves when future #s are around 90/91. Glad I stocked up when prices were lower, but I dropped off of this purchase some time ago.
Noah, yes, I was most referring to the $150-$200 club, many of which you mention. That in and of itself is a lot of money for 1 bottle of wine. $300 is worse, but there are others. I think my point was that there are people chasing wines in that price range, happily, but Larkmead has pissed people off for one reason or the other, and I just wanted to comment on that contrast. So, the Larkmead Dr. olmo is $150, as was the LMV Salon are the other $150 wines more “worth” it? Maybe it is just a rhetorical question. I fully understand your value proposition.
A little more on this…there are clearly some favorite wines among the board members here. That is true at all the various price points. For example, a lot of noise on the clos du val, which I do not like, at the $30 range. Larkmead has received a lot of flak here on its price, but IMO, the wines are up there. I think it is the change in prices, which has been pretty great, that has caught a lot of negative attention. And interestingly, and not surprisingly, they believe the increases were warranted based on their perception of their competition.
I think the mistake that Larkmead made was in their quality to price ratio assessment. They honestly believed that their wines were undervalued for years, an assessment shared by only a minority of connoisseurs.
I think it’s hard to argue that any cab in Napa is undervalued. Maybe Drinkward Peschon, which is made across the street from Larkmead basically. I don’t argue that Larkmead makes excellent wines, though high-throttled for my tastes.
You are working under the assumption that Larkmead is suddenly struggling to sell wine from their mailing list. Check out how much Larkmead is on CT when you have a chance. It’s clear that people love the wines.
Thanks Ian, was just gonna ask the question who buys this stuff. Don’t see many notes on this site and I rarely see this wine out and about. The pricing is insane considering you can get epic cabs like Dunn, Togni, Dalla Valle, et al, from excellent years like 1991-1994 for about half that. But if it sells, more power to them…
I dropped from buying ~ 2 years ago. Their shipping costs always drove me crazy too. I am sitting on quite a stash that should drink well for years. Sure the wines are getting “better”, but I’m not looking back. With that being said, there is a ton of history here, and good for Larkmead for the investments and upmarket branding they have acheived. I remember hand carrying back a maggie of 05 Firebelle from the winery - maybe $100.