Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Dan Berger: Wine's Absurd Prices

 When I began writing about wine in 1979, almost every fine-quality California chardonnay sold for $4.50 a bottle. Occasionally I'd find a bottle at $3.75 and considered it a bargain.

        Times change, obviously. As wine reputations grew exalted, and as the number of potential buyers worldwide for the best exploded, the demand for the top wines escalated and all of today's top wines now are in high demand -- which has increased prices to levels that seem absurd.

        Until you realize that people actually pay exalted prices to get these limited items. There are almost no limits to the price increases. Most of the wines listed below aren't intended for average people, just as a Ferrari holds no appeal for someone needing basic transportation.

        Would average 9-to-5 workers even appreciate such an automobile? Some might, sure, but the Italian automaker might be a bit irked if a potential buyer demanded a large trunk.

        Basic transportation isn't what a Ferrari is all about. A friend once said a Ferrari was a successful flashlight, "but that's not its intended purpose."

        Nor is Le Montrachet a beverage, although it is a wine. Le Montrachet (mohn-trah-shay) is the designation for a French chardonnay from the Burgundy district. 

        Among wines carrying that designation, the most famous is from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC). So, you may ask, if it's not a beverage, what is it? In a word, it's an experience. One that's not for everyone. Especially since the average price for it is $12,451.

        Per bottle. Or $490 per ounce.

        That particular fact was published a few days ago by internet wine site Wine-Searcher.com in an article on Burgundy's most wanted white wines. (https://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2022/05/burgundys-most-wanted-white-wines)

        The article has an intro that includes, "Burgundy is, of course, the pinnacle for Chardonnay in many people's minds. The wisdom handed down to us across generations of wine writers and critics is that the Cote d'Or is where Chardonnay reaches its apotheosis; the wines represent the (SET ITAL) ne plus ultra (END ITAL) of the variety."

        But $12,000 per bottle? In fact, Wine Searcher says it's the third most in-demand French white Burgundy by search results. Two other wines are in greater demand -- Coche-Dury Meursault (average price per bottle: $1,311) and Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru ($1,751).

        For most average wine buyers, these aren't beverages. They're experiences, most appreciated by those with extensive experience with such wines, since they represent just about the best experience you can have with a chardonnay. (Arguments welcome!)

        The same goes for many other exalted wines worldwide. Recently I saw a newly released Barolo for sale at nearly $1,000 per bottle. I gave a fleeting thought to buying a bottle and sharing it with friends. I adore Barolo.

        Sanity finally ruled, of course, $1,000 being out of the question, especially because this wine calls for 20 or more years of aging to reach a pinnacle of good taste. 

        And I'm uncertain Mother Nature has that many more years left for me to enjoy. I'm certain the wine will survive; I'm not sure I will. Even if I do, will my palate still be functioning?

        Considerations such as this make buying some wines out of the question, even if you were to win the lottery and had a palate that appreciated such exalted aromatics and flavors. 

        Best bet for daily wine consumption: Drink what you can afford and try not to develop a taste for DRC. I have tasted DRC several times and consider it the finest chardonnay in the world.

        I do not own a bottle. And most of those I know who had one were smart enough not to leave it for the next generation. 

        Wine of the Week: 2019 Rodney Strong Chardonnay, Petaluma Gap, Blue Wing Vineyard ($25) -- Racy apple/pear and faint tropical aromas glimmer through the creamy complexity of lees contact, mineral notes from this cool area of Sonoma County and a hint of toast from French oak barrel aging. Average national price: $20.

        To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. 



Anonymous said...

Glad I can still afford a bottle of Rodney Strong Chardonnay. It's an experience, too.

Anonymous said...

Caymus Cabernet is worth the price. That I can tell you.

Anonymous said...

Wine strikes me as a little "Whose Line Is It Anyway". The prices are made up and the label doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

I like the Rodney Strong Cab. Great wine and in a good price point.

Anonymous said...

I can buy a lot of Mogan David for $12,000.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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