Discounters reinvent the wine game…with passion of course

Sycamore Canyon rainbow

What are we supposed to make of THIS offering from Garagiste the star email purveyor of great “found” wines?


2008 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti “Le Montrachet” Р$2680.40 For those of us fortunate enough to taste young vintages of this wine, the 2008 is a real stand-out. It combines the endless fruit sap that DRC obtains from this storied vineyard with terrific natural acidity and a myriad of other traits (it also appears to be less oaked and lower in alcohol than in the past – a very good thing for this taster). Should age for 20-30+ years.

Upon request Garagiste confirmed this is the bottle price. Plus tax and shipping. First Williams Selyem appears on Lot 18 at the pre-arranged price of $50, which is more than the release price. Now the legendary DRC is available through Garagiste where I have been buying $23 Rieslings from 1998 and attractive 2009 red Burgundies under $40 not to mention a bunch of other very interesting Italian and Spanish wines. Where do DRC wines go when they are released? At this price they seem ready made for the trophy wine hunters in China.

" all of Burgundy!"

Jim Ruxin of Village Wines of Brentwood confirms there is some interest inside the Great Wall in top line red Burgundy. But nothing like the feverish pursuit of First Growth Bordeaux houses Lafite, Latour and Mouton.

Domaine Romanee Conti releases ~8,000 cases of wines annually from the most desirable vineyards in all of Burgundy. Imagine Jon Lovitz as spokesman. Yeah. That’s the ticket. The most desirable vineyards in all of Burgundy. La T√¢che, Richebourg and Romanee Conti. Wines we will never ever taste.

This is for certain. The new discounters – Lot 18, Garagiste, Wines Till Sold Out, Cinderella Wine, Timeless Wines – are pounding the wine market into a new form. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article pondered the phenomenon.

[300,000 registered users] is at the core of Lot18’s power. Since there’s no fee for offering a wine, James claims his service is far more cost-effective than advertising or submitting samples to a wine magazine – or, presumably, a newspaper. “We’re the most efficient way to let a winery get in front of that many people…”

Here is the complete article.

What does the old guard think? Insiders who spoke off-the-record think the big dogs of an era slipping into the sunset are wondering what is the right move. It is paramount for big name brands to protect their glossy name. But it would be foolish to ignore the emerging trend. We don’t want to see the wine industry end up like the record industry, do we? Well do ya punk?

Perhaps WS was simply testing the market as it is being reshaped…as so many others seem to be doing. It seems obvious many of the insiders sense a sea change, a tipping point in how wine is about to be marketed in the immediate future.
All I know is that this will be good for those of us who are happy to see the end of bloated trophy wines with their bloated prices and silly Parker/Spectator points. Hooray for well made value wines made by dedicated winemakers and sold by enthusiastic wine stores…online as well as bricks and mortar.

Here are some wines that make up the end opposite from DRC on the wine spectrum.

2008 Chateau St Pierre Cote de Provence Ros√© $14: A lean pinky with melon and cantelope flavors. Bottle empties before you can say “anybody care to take a dip?” 13%

1988 Leoville Las Cases $125: Red brown color although more red than brown. Pencil lead nose. Dried cranberry fruit on first taste. Structured, flavors and viscosity hanging together. Medium weight wine. Dotor√© declares “It’s French and I would rather have a Burgundy 100 times recognizing that 80 times the wine would be worse than this one.” 13%

2002 Domaine Joseph Voillet Volnay 1er Cru Les Champans $65: As if to make the point above…the wine is focused; “just on the other side of peaking” meaning it is past its prime but that is not necessarily bad. Is it losing its fruit? Not really, just past its prime. 40 minutes later the wine comes around and it is beautiful. Finicky but in the end worth the trouble. 13%


  1. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    Hmmm, searched “sierra nevada” but no reviews – what, tBoW ignores all those Sierra foothill winerys on the way to Tahoe? So many mid-journey destinations waiting for your arrival before you get to the cafe by the lake where you can slap young ladies’ bottoms at breakfast! There’s more to life than 8 hours slogging down highway 99 in one shot – we need a distracted itinerary this year. Research, lad, research.

    • Wavatar
      Bacchus says:

      I know this looks like I am commenting to myself. However, in fact, undeniably this comment was sent via “contact form” to tBoW by Wild Willie, an occasional reader with a thought or two. I have tried without success to get a Sierra winemaker to consent to an interview. Grant Eddie. He poured his wines at the Thursday Truckee event a couple season past. We bought the “port”. Maybe this summer?

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