Special Bottle: Price Point $100

What is your common special bottle price?

  • Around $10
  • Around $20
  • Around $50
  • Around $100
  • Around $200
  • Around $300
  • Around $500
  • $1000 or more
  • Price is immaterial

0 voters

After much soul searching, I’ve decided that the price point that I’m comfortable with regarding buying a “special bottle” is about $100. I looked at wines old and new, and balanced price, drinkability, likability (the ability for non-wine geeks to really like the wine), snob appeal and return on investment as far as the wine providing a memorable experience. It started when I was looking at buying some $275 cabernets, and I thought “what else could I get for that price” and is $275 really worth it?

OK, so I’m up for spending more if it’s a really special bottle, but after looking and tasting all my life, I’m comfortable in finding some great wines that make the $275 cab seem silly. What is your routine “special bottle” price?

Terms: +/- 20%, including taxes, premiums, delivery, etc.

Some I’ve found in my range, and each one a “special bottle” for various reasons:

Great Sauternes: 1990 Fargues, 1990 Rieussec, 1970 Suduiraut, 1971 Coutet, 1986 Lafaurie Peyraguey
Whites: 2001 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann, Remelluri Blanco, Meursault Comte Lafon, PYCM Premier Crus, Aubert Chards
Reds: 2010 Biondi Santi Brunello, 1990 or 1991 or 1994 or 1997 or 2001 …Dunn Cab, Karl Lawrence (sometimes reserves are cheap too), Larkmead, 2007 Drinkward Peschon (when young drank like an Araujo, time will tell), 1970 Giscours + many BDX from 81/85/86, Vosne Romanee Lieu Dits from Comte Liger Belair (sadly now way expensive), Volnays from Comte Lafon, etc.
Others: Sometimes Dom or Comtes come in this range, but also vintage Roederer which is quite special. Grand Siecle often can be found around $100.

And I’m totally missing Australia, New Zealand, most of Italy…the choice is endless. So do I want 4 bottles of cab or a case of some of these?

I think, for me, how special a bottle is is only loosely correlated to price. For example if I’m buying Ridge Monte Bello on Futures, that’s a very different price I’ll pay than if I’m buying a mature version in the secondary market 25 years later. Also, a special bottle of Bordeaux will be a very different price point than a special bottle of Chinon.

“Common special” = oxymoron?

Pedantic nitpicking aside, I consider any bottle north of $100 as special. My resistance rises exponentially above $250, but I’ll go above that for a rare special bottle.

Are we talking the price paid or current value.

I have maybe 20 bottles that i paid $200 for. Maybe 10 of those are currently selling between $300-$500.

$200 is my special occassion paid for price.

I will use the same formula I used for the “big cellar” thread - 3X my current average purchase price :slight_smile:. Removing my tongue from my cheek, I do think my answer is different (higher) today than it would have been 4-5 years ago and if I was asked the same question in 2-3 years, it would most likely be different. If you regularly buy Realm, Kapcsandy, Carter, Bevan, almost any cab from a Beckstoffer vineyard, etc., you will be blowing past $100. These are all great wines and any one bottle is “special” in the sense that for most of us (myself included), these are not daily drinkers, but they are not “special” in the sense that you rarely purchase them. I selected $200 (below the results of my formula, sadly), because I hope that I will think long and hard before spending more than that on a single bottle of wine - it not only has to taste great, but it would have to be consumed as part of a memorable experience (people/place/occasion).
I also agree that there are plenty of great and “special” wines priced below $100, so my comments are in no way intended to denigrate those who (have the discipline to) select a lower threshold.

I have to be sober about my assessment and say that special bottles have escalated in price for me over the years. Obviously some of it is scarcity and inflation, but some of it is the relative acclimation of the palate.

That’s a fine list of wines Fred.


Special can mean so much, such a broad range of stuff.

Over $100, the wine needs to wow me or be hard-to-source, like a Rougeard. But there are many, many wines that I personally consider “special” that are well below $100 and many in the $50 range. I do not think there is a direct correlation between price and “special”.

When I first started buying seriously, in the mid-Nineties, $50 was a real stretch and paying that much a few times gave me the heebie-jeebies (obviously I should have found a way to buy more since that was just as the pricing rocket ship was lifting off).

The most I’ve ever spent was around $250 for a bottle of Huet’s 1947 Le Haut Lieu moelleux. Nowadays, I might pay mid- or upper-$100s for a really, really special, already-aged bottle, but that would be maybe once, maybe twice a year. Under no circumstances would I buy a wine for myself, at whatever price, that needs additional decades in the cellar for maximum enjoyment. I no longer find much pleasure in the hunting/buying aspect of wine.

Nice list of wines Fred and interesting topic.

2007 Drinkward is a great wine. Not sure your aware but Francois Peschon part owner and winemaker has been involved at Arujo for many years. Great lady who makes some wonderful wines. You can find these in the $60-70 range and they are $70 direct from the winery. The 2010 is not to be missed. I think it will be even better than the 07.

For some wines, it is to me. The bottles that immediately come to mind that are close to that price point would be 1995 Ponsot Chapelle-Cambertin and 2002 Lokoya Diamond Mtn. 1966 Krohn’s Colheita Port is getting up in price too, and that’s a treat.

I’m not shy about a $200-ish bottle, but I can’t see myself buying very many wines that are $400 or more. There are lots of $50 to $150 bottles that we really enjoy, and even a couple $30 bottles that are regulars. We’ve tried some hellaciously expensive Cabs and Burgundies and just don’t see the value. Actually, most we didn’t like more than bottles half their price or less, particularly the Cult Cabs.

The best lesson I learned was with 2001 Shafer. Hillside Select from that vintage sells for $400 or more, while their second bottling (simply called ‘Napa’ back then and called ‘One Point Five’ since around '07) can be found for $80-ish for the same year. Not only can I buy 5 Napas for the price on 1 HSS, I like the Napa better.

Why do you need to know what other people are willing to pay? It seems like an utterly individual thing.

I think a special bottle is something that you anticipate the specialness. It might be that great bottle of 2009 cru beaujolais (QPR) or the bottle of your birthyear, etc that may be over the hill and not a great year for burgundy but still special. It is only a bottle of wine! Great bottles are still held hostage to great meals and great friends—end of story.

Why do we need to know what other people’s tasting notes are? Their opinion of a wine is utterly individual.

This is a website where trivial, finicky, and exacting details about wine are discussed. Some will be interesting, some will seem mundane… just like any other website for any other hobby.

Thanks to all for their responses…it is interesting that there is almost a bell curve and that probably an interesting (from an economics perspective) threshold somewhere in there. And I agree with everyone’s points regarding great wines in other price points, being a subjective decision etc.

This came about as part of a “come to Jesus” realization that I’m not able to buy wines upon release for long term aging, what was I really looking for in an aged wine, if I am the only one in my family that appreciates wine, is it worth it? I.e. is it more about me enjoying a bottle or sharing a bottle.

I think it has always been about sharing a bottle for me…for talking about it and putting it in a menu. In the early days I was happy to follow the $$$=quality paradigm, but as I tried more wines and as the prices started to get out of control something had to give. I’ve been very lucky to have worked in the wine industry over some of it’s greatest years, and try some of the world’s best wines (my favorite was a staff dinner with a vertical of Ch. Lafleur going back to 1947) but in today’s world such wines are out of my reach. I really do think that Kosta Browne is the new Richebourg, and that Aubert and Peter Micheal (and others) will be good comparisons for ripe vintage DRC Montrachets, and that some Napa Cabs will blow away all but the best Bordeaux. If only because those latter wines have become impossible to accumulate, mature and enjoy on any sort of regular level. And restaurants have exacerbated the issue with their pricing (with some notable exceptions).

So happily I came upon my list, and I can drink just as well, and just as notably, and just as communally and just as satisfactorily if I just reset my financial and emotional parameters. And while I love to share in expensive bottles with those who can afford them, I no longer feel inadequate for not spending equal $$$ that I don’t have. Maybe I’ve given up 5-10% of the satisfaction, but I’m saving 50-90% of the cost.

Here is a list of some bottles that I love and are around the $100 (+/- 20%) range.

Robert Foley Claret, Myriad Georges III vineyard, Rivers Marie wines, Quivet Pellet cabernet, McGah Scarlett, Bevan Ontogeny, 12c, and Carter Fortuna.

Hi Robert. All 3 of your posts, regardless of the subject of the thread, are about wine as an investment - and in 2 of the 3 you hawk this vin-x place. Hmmmmmm…

Interestingly the site suggests Harlan and Opus one as top investment wines.

Harlan has to be one of the worst investments, almost all vintages are available for similar cost as newly released bottles, same for Opus.

Uh oh Robert, seems that your pet site’s crystal ball is a quart low on premonition. rolleyes


Well in the early to mid 90s Harlan sure was a hell of a wine investment. Maybe the site is also running low on up-to-date?

This is an interesting poll - sorry I missed it, but I would have fallen in with the norm as well, as my ‘special bottles’ are around $100-125, typically