7 years ago

Why $30
wines are better

Are you a
die-hard frugal wine drinker? Bill Belkin, category manager for our Wines
& Spirits locations
, explains what makes some wine so expensive … and
why you might want to splurge a little this holiday season.

We’ve all heard our
self-proclaimed oenophile friends remark, “Hey, there’s no difference between
that $30 bottle and this $10 one … ”

Well, with apologies
to Mr. Know Nothing, there actually is.  Or at the very least, there
should be. Make that BETTER BE!

You see, wine, like
real estate, is all about location, location and location. And the best
grapes in the world, like the best homes in the world, are planted on expensive
soil. Not only the dirt itself is better, but the angle to the sun, the
drainage, the exposure to the wind and the immediate effect of any large body
of water all serve to make the raw materials better than those planted in areas
that are too flat, too hot and too close together.

Because, unlike
perhaps your uncle’s corn crop, grapes like to be spaced relatively far apart
so that yields per acre are relatively low. Thereby the intensity and
complexity of the resultant wines are somewhat remarkable. As a reference
point: Currently the best, most in-demand Cabernet from Napa sells from
growers to winemakers at over $30,000 per ton. Yes, that’s correct!
A ton of grapes only makes about 60 cases of wine. So you can do the math
and see what a great bottle of wine has to cost.

Conversely, bulk
wines are cropped at a much higher rate per acre (often machine harvested vs.
hand harvested) go through little or no sorting before being rudely crushed
(seeds, stems, insects and all) into huge capacity stainless steel tanks. Wines
like this on the bulk market often can be obtained for next to nothing … true.

Did I forget to
mention that those fancy French Oak barrels that hold only 225 liters (that’s
only 25 cases) cost upwards of $1,750 USD each?

Additionally, did I
mention that said barrel of wine may age undisturbed in a cellar on the
property of the winery and grower for over two years? This is a very expensive
business proposition. No money coming in and plenty going out for over two years!

And while we are at
it, let’s hire a really good winemaker. They don’t typically work for

Whew …

Throughout this
whole diatribe, I am not saying that really good, sometimes bordering on great
wines cannot be had for $12. It’s just that the real inner beauty of a
wine starts to be revealed when you get up near the $30 mark. Try one this
holiday season. Ask one of our shop managers to pick out a seriously good
wine for your own pleasure or gift giving. See if you can tell the