Economic meltdown will hurt wine clubs

To cancel or not to cancel my wine club subscriptions? The economic crisis (i.e, we gonna have a lot less disposable $$) means making adjustments all down the line. Including wine…and especially wine clubs
tBoW subscribes to a handful or two of wine clubs including 20 year memberships in the Rochioli and Williams Selyem wine clubs. I sell off these wines because they are simply too damn pricey and having tasted 15 consecutive vintages from 1982 through 1997 I have a very good idea about what each winery aims for and how well they hit their marks (very well).
Fortunately, there are enough folks happy to buy the substantial annual allocations each winery offers me. Which someone else buys. However, if my “beards” have to give up buying the entire lot from either winery I will have arrived at the end of an era because I will drop my spot on those lists faster than a Wall Street downtick. Now there is an economic indicator of gloom and doom…when and if I have to drop these subscriptions because my surrogates are tightening their belts, too.
Then there are the comfy clubs. These wineries have more reasonable price points and/or make especially consistent wines that are worth the $$; in fact they are under-valued. One is quite pricey but I am convinced the wines are so special they are worth owning for consumption and not investment. In fact the idea of wine investment is silly. Until recently investing in pricey bottles was a lone mirage in the Sahara of wine trophies. Of course, one could say that about practically any investment now, from housing to gold to mortgage backed “securities”. But wine? The $$ appreciation is rarely there. These are trophies owned by folks who need to impress someone else. The investment angle is just another selling point.
What will happen to our favorite wine clubs? You can be certain cancellations have already begun rolling in. tBoW canceled two and kept two favorites open. Mrs. tBoW loves McKenzie Mueller and tBoW is quite fond of Tablas Creek. So for the time being we make some room in the tightening home budget to support these two fine wineries.
Here is one prediction…expect to see plenty of sales in your quality retail shops. This could signal the rebirth of Trader Joes fine wine selections.
MMpinot 05.jpg2005 McKenzie Mueller Pinot Noir $32 (wine club): Spine. This is what I think of when I taste this and other McKenzie Mueller Pinot Noir wines. The wine is made from estate grapes in Bob’s stylistic preference. And that is with spine. Firm structure, strong tannic backbone, delicious high toned pinot fruit. Something like plum flavors dominate. Smoky and even exotic. He does not filter. 14.2%
Soligamar-Reserva01.jpg2001 Soligamar Reserva $18: Practically perfect in every way that meets tBoW standards. Forward fruit neither overripe or out of whack. Low alcohol (13%), structured nicely, balancing tannins with medium weight body. And under $20. Alta Rioja blend of 75% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and 5% Mazuelo grapes from old, low-yielding, high altitude vines. Another Kirkland Nation pick. Bravo. In fact bravissimo! I read a review that mentioned eucalyptus, cedar, dark fruit, traces of spice, juniper berry & leather. Huh? We can go with the dark fruit, spice and very soft leather. Sobaté baby. 13%
….and an oldie but a goodie…..
grgich chrd 1991.jpg1991 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay: What a treat this was. In the 1970s California chardonnay was once the flagship grape, even moreso than Cabernet Sauvignon. Today most of Napa chardonnay are torn out and replanted to Cab. However, a few producers still grown what once known as the grape best-suited for the California climate. Grgich Hills was always considered a master producer and this particular vintage was considered to be one of the most memorable. The color was golden, just shy of orange. Would that be amber? Sure. The nose was spicy, oily like a great Reisling from the Saar. The flavors brought green apples and almonds to mind. Somewhat weighty feel. The best news is we had a few drinkers so there was plenty to go around. It was very very good. This is not the tropical banana fruit chardonnay that dominated the 80s and 90s and resulted in converting so many Napa vineyards to Cabernet. This is a style that we would like to see more of. Only 17 years old. If we were selling (or writing fro the Wine Spectator) we would call it legendary. Let’s just say it is a classic with some time left on it. 13%

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