The summer residents of the Hamptons may have trouble seeing the world through rosé colored glasses.
Move over, Great Midwestern drought of 2012! The crisis buffeting the Hamptons is a dearth of rosé. The NY Post reports that “Hamptons tipplers will be hard pressed to find a favorite bottle of rosé out east for Labor Day.” One store only had six bottles of the overpriced Domaines Ott left! What if Cristal stocks are similarly imperiled?
What should they drink this weekend? Slum it with some Muscadet? Drink like a Montauk hipster with a little Assyrtiko? Whatever you advise, just keep them away from 2010 Chablis since there isn’t that much of it…
In an extensive waste of the journalism world’s precious resources, Zack O’Malley Greenburg has uncovered what we have known since 2006: Armand de Brignac is mediocre Champagne at best and Jay-Z profits from it!
Greenburg has a chapter of his forthcoming book on Jay-Z published in The Atlantic (although, mysteriously, it has been removed from their site and is available here). As we discussed back in 2006 (“Jay-Z puts an Ace in play“), drawing on stories in the WSJ and BusinessWeek, “Ace” is an absurdly priced nonvintage Champagne that came out of nowhere and relies on Jay-Z’s star power to sell it. If he has a financial stake in it, so what? People who buy it are overpaying to drink image rather than a quality wine, hardly the first time that has happened.
Here’s how Lyle Fass summed it up in Greenburg’s piece: “Everybody should take a lesson who wants to sell wine that sucks. Because it is probably the most brilliant marketing in the history of wine.”
SPIT: Bling champagne
An unnamed source cites declines of 50-85% in champagne sales with pricey stuff hit hardest. The story by Alice Feiring in this weekend’s WSJ. magazine also suggest price wars may be imminent. (Lack of) Money quote comes from Roberta Morrell, a NYC retailer: “The trouble with dropping prices is how will they raise them?”
SPIT: reporting on Champagne
An article on JancisRobinson.com criticizes recent coverage of Champagne’s 2009 harvest. Main quibble: “After the harvest there will not be masses of grapes left to rot on the vine.”
SIPPED: changes in Chicago
Sam’s Wine & Spirits closed their South Loop location last month and now will close their Highland Park store. Meanwhile, Illinois now has an increased tax on wine, rising $0.13 per bottle to $0.28. As a result, distributor Rocky Wirtz has sued the state. Five other states recently raised taxes on wine.
SIPPED: Binge shopping
Annual wine sales at big box stores in France bring out “legions” of consumers. Carrefour sold six million bottles during its sale last year. [AP]
For exhibit A, we turn to an anonymous clubgoer who, according to the blog Guest of a Guest, spent $20k on a methuselah (six liters) of Armand de Brignac. Yes, Ace of Spades, so 2006! But still going strong, apparently. NY mag’s Grub Street terms this bling spend an example of “douchebauchery.”
For exhibit B, we turn to the Charles de Gaulle airport, where an anonymous Christmas eve shopper (desperate for a gift?) dropped 46,423 euros ($65,013) during a wine spending spree! Bloomberg details what he brought the the register: “a Cote du Rhone [sic] La Tache from 1991 and several bottles from the Bordeaux region, including a Lafite Rochschild bottled [sic] in 1947 and a Chateau Latour from 1976.” Paper or plastic? Seriously, this dude needed to think of structuring his gift so the recipient could spend the $65k at auction, where all the deals are!
With little new wine bling rolling out for this holiday season, I had a brief encounter with the bling of Christmas past. No, it wasn’t the $10k white gold Dom Pérignon jerobaum we brought you (photographically, at least) last year.
Instead, a few days ago I stumbled on an actual bottle of the Hennessy Beauté du Siècle cognac (find this cognac). Introduced last year in its display case designed by ten artists using mirrors and molded aluminum (!), the cognac is supposedly hand delivered in a limousine by one of the directors of LVMH when a bottle is, in fact, purchased. I twisted the Baccarat crystal bottle around in its holder (I didn’t lift it because I thought it might trip a sensor and since I’m not Indiana Jones, I didn’t have a 750g bag of sand to put in its place). There’s no label, save for the government warning! Ah, the surgeon general’s reach escapes no one.
Perhaps there is an aluminum lining for those interested in purchasing: introduced at €150,000 last year, the price has gone down based on exchange rates alone!
The sound of corks popping may be replaced by the sound of pins dropping: the next victim of the financial crisis appears to be the lavish holiday party. Morgan Stanley has nixed theirs. News Corporation sent theirs to the cutting room floor while ABC News is planning something more modest. Another financial services firm retains the Christmas spirit but cut the Taittinger and is adding something else (a bull market for prosecco and cava?), to trim the per person tab at their party according to the Times. The (no-)money quote: “Nobody’s ordering caviar as a first course.”
What’s your company doing this year to cut back, if anything? All the Dr. Vino interns were disappointed that this year’s magnum party has been downsized to a 375ml party. But hopefully we will all have something to cheer after the election!
Carlsberg, the Danish brewer, has announced the release of a $400 beer called “Vintage No. 1.” According to Bloomberg, the beer, which costs 357 times more than the regular Carlsberg lager, “has been developed to challenge luxury wines in the gourmet restaurant market and capitalize on rising individual wealth.”
But don’t they know that bling is only allowed in wine country! (OK, maybe cognac too.) How dare them try to pry our white-gold encrusted jerobaums out of our wine stained fingers! Bling beer, you’re on notice!
BREAKING: Behavioral economists at Caltech attached an EEG to the heads of 21 volunteers who knew not much about wine, fed them one milliliter of cabernet through a tube and the only thing they told them about the price, which wasn’t always accurate! Guess which one they always thought was better? The more expensive one, even when it was the same wine!
For a summary of this study, check out this BBC account, the best I’ve seen (with blog-worthy reader feedback too! And thanks to readers Grayman, Brian, Stephen and Terry for sending in versions of the story.).
Unfortunately using price as a proxy for quality happens all the time in the world of wine. That’s why, for example, Ace of Spades $300 nonvintage Champagne sells out when it tastes remarkably like the $50 version from the same producer. Hmm, maybe that’s why no samples of it were available during Vinexpo, a savvy crowd of trade tasters? Examples also abound of new producers who release wines at high prices in an attempt to signal quality that may or may not be there.
But, fortunately, price and quality are not always perfectly related. Just last month I poured two wines for participants at a tasting. One was quite a storied Napa producer and another was an unheralded producer from some dustbowl in Spain. They could see the bottles and some knew the Napa name. Which did they prefer? The Spanish one. And when I told them it was $15 vs $115, they rejoiced!
What do you say, is a higher priced wine always better? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments.
It’s too bad that the researchers’ next project is about pain–I was hoping they would repeat the wine quality test with Parker scores. I bet it would have an even higher correlation with perceived quality than price!
Image used with permission from DeLongWine.com