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96 cabernets and 99 prices - Printable Version

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- MRM - 03-06-1999 12:11 AM

Has anybody else noticed the sudden two dollar a bottle price jump in 99 in California? For a $100 bottle that's no biggie, but for us poor stiffs a jump from 8 to 10 takes out the kids milk. What happened? And at that price level am I the only one who finds all 96 cabernet watery kool-aid like?


- Jason - 03-07-1999 12:47 AM

Two words. South America.
In the price range you're in Chile and Argentina are just about unbeatable.


- n144mann - 03-07-1999 05:13 PM

I will second Jason's observations. I have had some really good wines from these regions. You can also find some value reds from Portugal. Had a 1995 Duas Quintas Douro last night that cost me $10 but was a very good table red. Nice fruit and good complexity. Really good with the meal. I am able to spend a little more if I like and sometimes will for "special" wines, but for everyday, why spend more when you can get good quality for this price.


- Van The Man - 03-17-1999 10:13 AM

I was talking on another board about this exact, same topic on another board.

There was an interesting article in a wine rag called Decanter, which is a UK based magazine. That article basically said that the California Cabernets are decent, good and even very good wines but that the prices they are commanding are very high relative to overall quality and ageing protential. One of the writers even stated that "California vintners seem to ask 'how much money can I make with these grapes' as opposed to "what's the best wine I can make with these grapes." And as another person stated in their response here, the magazine said the same thing: "Look to South America and South Africa."

I personally do not buy California Cabernet any longer except for the occassional bottle and/or something I've been collecting and want to keep buying for sentimental reasons. I just can't justify the prices these wines are commanding. Good values are VERY difficult to find.

And that's okay. Heck, if it were my business, I too would make as much money as I could. And I'd say that a wine which sells out, no matter what the asking price, is priced to the market.

However, it does mean that we all need to think outside of the box and find wines from sources we may not have though of originally.


- Randy Caparoso - 03-20-1999 04:24 PM

Ditto, folks. There are, of course, still lots of California Cabs under $10, but almost that I can honestly say I enjoy drinking. It's almost as if it starts to taste good, the price zips right up to $15-$20. I tell you how this has affected my restaurant wine buying, which I've been doing for 21 years -- this year I'm dropping low range California "house wine" (i.e. lower priced Cab, Chard & W Zin) from most of my lists. Instead, I've contracted for a first rate winemaker in Italy to produce over 3000 cases of Merlot and 2000 cases of Pinot Grigio instead. This might sound un-American (please don't report me!), but the quality I'm getting in respect to the much lower price is, as the song goes, simply irresistable.

One of the last great inexpensive California Cabernet producers, in my book? Patrick Campbell, who makes "Terra Rosa." But guess where he now gets the grapes from? South America. Tells you something.