Random Musings

Have I Lost my Wine Buying Mojo?

What’s happening to me? When the mailer for the 2013 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon arrived I found myself wondering If I needed more QC given I have roughly 70 bottles in the cellar. When the 2013 Dalla Valle mailer arrived I asked myself if I wanted to continue to support a winery that is raising prices again. Despite the fact that I have verticals of both wines dating back over a decade I ended up passing on the offerings.

My purchases of Bordeaux  have also decreased over the last couple years. I used to carefully study barrel tasting results from the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker to plan out future purchases. I pulled back considerably with the dramatic price increases brought on with the ’09 and ’10 vintages.

Have I lost my wine buying mojo?

Nothing has changed in my life financially that would impact my purchases. Wine is still opened at my house just about every night of the week. Perhaps it is the fact that I am getting older and do have a well stocked cellar (1600+ bottles)? This well stocked cellar includes bottles of Bordeaux dating back to the ’85 vintage and more Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon than I can drink in the foreseeable future.

I think what is at the root of my change in wine buying behavior is the fact that more and more I find myself gravitating to wineries that offer exceptional wines at “fair” prices at the expense of over priced Cabernet Sauvignon and Classified Growth Bordeaux. If you have read my blog for any length of time you know this category of fair priced wines includes the likes of Carlisle, Bedrock, Turley and Rivers Marie. Even more expensive wines like Cayuse, Kosta Browne, Rochioli and Saxum seem like relative bargains compared to the Napa Valley Cabernets and classified growth Bordeaux that used to be such a priority to me.

Or maybe now it is more about a wine I can open while hanging out and helping my kids with their homework as opposed to a “trophy” that will look good in the cellar? Or perhaps, I have lost my wine buying mojo?

Either way the passion is still there for this great hobby we all enjoy so much.

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12 thoughts on “Have I Lost my Wine Buying Mojo?

  1. Totally agree, Tom. Since I buy Ridge Monte Bello via futures and get a 40% discount, I am less willing to put up with these egregious price increases. My tastes have switched as well. If I’m buying ridiculously priced wines at all these days, it’s Dujac Burgundies:)

  2. Outstanding post, Tom! Discouraged by high prices and encouraged by numerous quantities of the same wine in the cellar, you’re readjusting your wine buying. Sound decision, in my view.

  3. Very interesting that you are writing a couple posts about mailers and now this post. It is exactly the same thing I am going through right now. I have come to the conclusion that I too have a huge amount of wine, so why not buy a little less from producers that keep raising prices every cycle. Part of my thinking, is that I live so close to paso and napa/sonoma, I can always visit and pick up some bottles even through appointments. I can do the same in Washington, minus a few wineries. I can visit walla walla or Woodinville and leave with cases of wine that give me a wide variety. I also use Fullpull, which allows me to buy almost every winery in Washington minus cayuse/reynvaan/horsepower/no girls. The other thing I have been doing, is sharing some mailers with friends. I am perfectly fine having a bottle or two, or just passing for the cycle. Maybe if we all feels this way, the wineries are seeing it too. Something tells me they are, as I have remained on some mailing lists I haven’t bought from in awhile.

  4. I could not agree more Tom. My huge allocations of Force Majuere & Williams Selyem were split up with wine friends. I also passed on Pisoni & Lewis. I jumped ship on Harlan Estates at $500 & now it’s $850…ridiculous unless you have money to burn! The prices seem to go higher all the time.

  5. Interesting post. I have only been seriously into purchasing wines from lists for a year and a half and even in that time have started to pull back. I just find that I don’t get a proportionately higher level of enjoyment from wines near or above $100 per bottle that can justify a purchase, particularly when there are great values from the likes of Bedrock, Carlisle, etc. Also as Jordan mentioned above, we also live within relatively short distance of paso and sonoma so while I might not be able to get a bottle of some wines there are a ton available to us.

  6. Understandable given the points you mention (ever increasing prices along with a full cellar). I think the fun also comes in discovering the next new ‘star’. There is so much quality out there to be had and so much enjoyment on many levels. I think there will always be buyers for those wines that are offered at increasingly higher price tags and sometimes for that very reason. Everyone has their motivator. It’s amazing really that the ones that can sell for higher and get it, don’t–thank goodness. Wine–such a great passion to have. Cheers!

  7. Couldn’t agree more. For me, the bottom line is the pleasure I get from drinking the wine not admiring a trophy in the wine cellar. Does a cab costing $400 or $500 really bring 5 to 10 times the pleasure in a blind tasting as a well made cab costing $35 to $50? For me, the answer is a resounding no.

  8. Great post Tom. It’s really backwards isn’t it? As you get older one normally makes more money as you progress in your professional life. Correspondingly, it would make sense that a wine budget would increase as well. I wonder if my own dollar spend will actually decrease with time the more I realize that the incremental increase in the price of a bottle definitely is not equating to an equal amount of increased pleasure from a bottle of wine. Lately I’ve been drinking the same amount of wine, if not more, but spending less. For me the vinous learning curve in life is all about finding wines that suit my palate and cost fractions of more expensive versions. If you’re into it then it’s an expensive hobby no matter how you do it, but……..

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