"There is so much good wine out there today"

I was talking to the owner of a wine store in Los Angeles that I’ve known for over 30 years and he said that exact quote. So I naturally replied, “More for you to sell and make more money.”

That’s when he told me, “No.”

He explained that for the most part wine buying is a zero-sum game and that his store does about the same amount of business no matter how many good/great wines are available/made. He also mentioned that the December holiday buying season has shrunk from 1 month to about 1 week. I asked him about producers raising prices year after year and he just shook his head. “Real soon they are going to be in for a big surprise. Once they raise prices and it doesn’t sell, it’s very difficult to drop them(prices).”

I asked him about cult wines directly sold to consumers and he said, “They better be careful too. What’s hot today, may not be hot tomorrow. And they too can get caught in the price inflation trap.”

I thought his comments mirrored a lot of what has been said here in the last few years.

Yep. Bet he can tell you how he tastes great wines he’d like to carry, but the price point is high and slow moving, and he already has enough similar wines in stock.

Wine retailers in N.O. have long known that food service gets them in the door and they buy wine while they are there.

I will add two more I have two more I have heard recently

They keeps asking why we don’t sell as much of their wine as we did in the past. I kept telling them it’s because they pushed their wine club so hard that they impacted our sales. Now I am dropping them since I don’t sell enough to justify the shelf space.

And from just last week when visiting a store out of state

No one buys by the case anymore.

On the other hand, we’ve been hearing about the inevitable collapse of pricing and all that for as long as we’ve been talking about wine here on WB, but little of it has actually happened. I don’t see prices dropping for hardly any of the wines we discuss around here.

Wasn’t it Gaja who not long ago speculated that demand would soon be greater than supply for fine wine?

PM me when it drops so i can fill the other 2/3 of my cellar.

This seems to be a quote I’ve heard a lot lately and it definitely has bit of truth to it. As a retailer, this notion does offer a bit of freedom from a purchasing standpoint. There are a lot of suppliers/distributors out there who like to pull the ol’ quid pro quo notion of, “If you want the hot new release of ____, you have to buy this many ____,” but with so many great wines out there to offer, it’s gotten easier and easier to just sell something else. That said, the demand for the world’s finest wines (from an establishment point of view) has always outpaced the supply - but that’s no secret.

Across the board no but it sure seems like the price drops to move inventory are more frequent and more steep. just the past week I picked up Billecart-Salmon brut rose for $63 and Delectus Cuvee Julia for $49. Both at brick and mortar stores and not flash sites. I had stopped buying Billecart-Salmon when it started selling for $75. I have tried the Cuvee Julia in the past but never purchased due to the $100+ price tag.

his store does about the same amount of business no matter how many good/great wines are available/made. He also mentioned that the December holiday buying season has shrunk from 1 month to about 1 week. I asked him about producers raising prices year after year and he just shook his head.

Three different things here.

You make a 95 point Napa Cab and put it out for $150. So do lots of other people. That doesn’t mean that the number of buyers for those wines keeps increasing. So makes sense that he’d sell the about the same.

The buying season used to be Nov and Dec. Don’t know if that’s still true. As far as shrinking to one week, he may also have lost some business to online merchants, just like every other brick and mortar retailer.

The price increases are their own issue. At some point, they may be unsustainable but until that time, who knows. There are some wineries in CA that have closed down because they couldn’t make the numbers work, but as long as there’s stupid money sloshing around the wine world, there will be vanity projects and hopeless endeavors.

Where might I ask? It’s $79.99 and up everywhere in Sonoma County.

It was in New Jersey. PM sent with more info.

The Champagne prices might be just a seasonal thing – clearing out inventory after the holiday season.

Don’t tell DavidZ. :wink:

It makes sense to me.

Even as I’m trying to ramp down my wine buying there are more and more producers that I would be interested in following and yet more that I would like to try.

In Champagne alone there has been an explosion of quality producers. I haven’t even heard of half the producers at the big natural wine fair coming to NYC. The number of great CA producers keeps rising (still haven’t tried a Dirty and Rowdy or a Sandlands despite friends’ raves).

While there are plenty of wines I used to buy whose prices have escalated beyond my comfort point there are still plenty of great reasonably priced wines that are readily available. It’s really a golden age for wine drinkers. At least until Pepiere starts getting allocated.

This is the new reality and the retailer and customer’s advantage. Arrogant sales rep? See ya! Hostage purchases? See ya! Weak account service? Bye-Bye. [cheers.gif]

This gibes with the Dirty Little Secret which I have long suspected to lie at the heart of businesses like alcohol & tobacco & coffee & pharmaceuticals and the like: The core of your customer base consists of addicts.

Of course, that’s definitely true of women’s clothing, as well…

My very fuzzy recollection is that WB was really taking off around the time that we were at Peak CRA, right before the CRA Derivatives finally became un-re-sellable, circa early 2008.

If Dubya had held his ground, and hadn’t allowed Paulson to shove TARP down his throat [in order to save Paulson’s alma mater, Goldman Sachs], then billionaires would have reverted to their natural occupation of jumping off bridges.

But instead, Dubya wilted, being the pansy that he is, and we got TARP and TARPII and QE and QEII and trillions upon trillions of fake dollars in the system.

Obviously the fakery can’t go on forever, and when reality re-asserts its primacy, we’ll find out how many alcoholics still prefer $75 Bourgogne Villages over $0.75 cans of Rolling Rock.

Although the con artists who run Big Global will fight to the death in order to install fakery as a permanent substitute for reality.

I think the Romans called that panem et circenses.

But even Rome couldn’t sustain the fakery forever.

Anyway, the point is that WB has only ever existed during the era of fake money, and when the world eventually returns to real money [or, if things get bad enough, to a barter economy], then we’ll finally discover what the true price of fermented grape juice ought to be.

So I have some questions because this topic is fascinating to me.

#1 - Doesn’t simple economics tell us that if our supply continues to grow where our demand is staying flat…the market will demand a shift in price. I’m talking about general consumers here, not Berserker consumers. The general consumer will instantly go to another wine if they see that it’s cheaper and of equal quality to what they’re used to.

#2 - What do you guys think about the “prestigious” or trending grape varietals? Chardonnay got extremely popular, now pinot is getting really popular and neither of the varietals are cheap. So if the prices started to drop wouldn’t that look bad from a perception standpoint? You once had this $50 of Chard or Pinot and now you’re selling it for $40? Is it no longer worth $50? I hope I’m explaining that question correctly. There’s a level of prestige in a sense for some varietals.

I actually agree with the sentiment, DavidB, to a degree. 90% of all wine is still crap, but the average quality is a hell of a lot better than it was even when I started drinking in earnest 15 years ago.

Some of the things that I find so amazing/awesome

  • the range of great vintages in the last decade+ in France
  • the strength of the greenback
  • nationwide, even intl shipping
  • a convenient, 24-7 FedEx site
  • discovering Italian wines later in life
  • wine boards who can expound on every/any niche
  • checking wine prices / reviews on my mobile “smart” phone
  • the prevalence of corkage policies
  • modern dishwasher safe quality stems, and quiet Bosch’s
  • the anachronistic pricing of Rioja (we quaffed a tasty $8 2010 Lopez de Haro the other night)
  • the general vigor of dessert wines, making older ones reasonable bets for backfilling

These are truly the greatest times in recorded human history.