Monday, March 3, 2008

Cult and hype

Lately, everything here has been negative. I admit it, and I am sorry for it. It's not the purpose of this thing when I started, and I really can't understand how it all started. I suppose it's a reflection of my current mood; just havn't been able to find the energy or the optimism that I usually have. So I certainly don't need anyone else contributing to this, this aura of negativity. I really fucking don't. The weather definitely isn't helping either - I have a serious case of the winter blues. You know why my sinus infection and cold won't go away? This is why!

Moving on to some things that I find partly amusing and also partly highly frustrating. The phenomenon of cult wines and market hype.

Let's start with a relatively new, high profile, Niagara winery, called Le Clos Jordanne. It's a partnership between Vincor, of Canada, and Boisset, of Bourgogne, France. Two giant consolidators of the global wine market. I've tried to visit this winery, but as I was told by the gentleman at Malivoire, they havn't even built a facility to accomodate guests yet. They produce several wines, most notably a pinot noir that's been receiving fantastic reviews from everyone. I've been trying to get my hands on a bottle for 10 months now at least, to no avail. LCBO has released bottles several times over the last year, but getting one is almost like trying to win the lottery. It's just impossible.

How many vintages has Le Clos Jordanne produced? Not that many. Certainly, only enough to be able to count on one hand. Currently, the entry level bottle is the Village Reserve, at $25 per bottle. Certainly a reasonable price, but how are you going to buy it? Not at the winery, because you can't visit it. And apparently not at the LCBO, because it disappears within an hour of release. And the press is just building it up, as one of Canada's first 'cult' wines. What the fuck does that even mean? Are we trying to be Californian here? There's no such thing as a cult wine. There is good wine and there is bad wine. If Le Clos Jordanne does indeed produce the finest pinot noir west of Burgundy, then let the consumer decide. Don't hype it up into something it's not. But then again, I'll still be searching for a bottle. Unbelievable that even little Waterloo, the town of whisky and beer drinkers get caught up in this hype. The King St. LCBO Vintages store was out of stock instantly as well.

Next thing I want to talk about is a post from Eric Asimov's blog, The Pour. Asimov writes for the New York Times, and I enjoy his writing very much.

It's what he wrote on February 29 that really bothers me. He wrote about his meeting with an executive from the famed Krug, one of the most luxurious Champagne brands in LVMH's portfolio. They were releasing a brand new, top of the line cuvee, called Clos d'Ambonnay. This is a single vineyard, blanc de noirs, made from 100% pinot noir and very, very special indeed. I believe it. What made my mind explode was that the suggested retail price was $3000-$3500. Per bottle. Not per lot, not per case, but per bottle. Now, I'm a firm believer that you should splurge on expensive things once in a while. But $3000+ for a single bottle of wine sounds not only excessive, but absolutely criminal. Unless this contains an elixir that cures all your illnesses and keeps you young forever, there is no way that a producer can justify selling wine at this price. And have no doubt, the price will only increase once it hits the market, due to speculators and limited supply.

What is really unsettling is that Asimov seems to say that yes, they are justified in setting this price. He says that it's Worth every penny, if money is no object. Are you kidding me? Really, are you kidding me? I read an article today, talking about Bordeaux producers getting fed up with the futures system. They say that prices are artificially being driven up. A recent vintage of Ch. Mouton Rothschild costs between 400 to 500 Euros wholesale, and once it reaches retail, prices can climb well past 1000 Euros. But as some people argue, it only costs 10 to 12 Euros per bottle to produce. You calculate the markup.

My biggest fear out of all of this is that wine is going to become accessible only to the super rich and well connected, as Asimov clearly is. How can any regular consumer afford these kinds of prices? I can't. Can you? And does the wine industry really want some fucking rich douchebag, who doesn't know shit about wine to be chugging their prized products down? Instead of honest consumers who really care and are passionate about wine? Unfortunately, the hunger for profits most often wins, a slap in the face to us all.

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