• Two Thumbs Way Up
• Intense aromas of black cherry, anise, black licorice with touches of dark chocolate and spicy cinnamon. It has full flavors of tart cherry, blueberry, cherry-cola, milk chocolate and briary eucalyptus.
I recently asked the staff accountant at www.WineKulers.com, Moe Riteoffs, a straightforward economics question: What happens when you have too much product seeking too few consumers?
Lower prices, was his immediate response. “That or bankruptcy,” he added looking through his green eyeshade.
California now sits on huge surpluses of unsold grapes and wine. Overnight millionaires from Silicon Valley, who raced to Napa and Sonoma to make the next cult cabernet sauvignon, have found it hard getting consumers to fork over $100 or $150 per bottle during the Great Recession (Go figure!). High-quality Napa grapes that may have cost $5,000 a ton a couple years ago are now barely selling for $1,000. Even worse, the pressure is immense to sell wines sitting in storage facilities at any price.
Bad news for traditional wine operations with gilded tasting rooms, fancy addresses and various other forms of overhead. Great news for nimble winemaking entrepreneurs, who snap up the values, produce yummy wines and are not too proud to make wine in warehouse far from tourist-laden wine routes.
You need go no farther than this week’s wine pick for an example: The 2007 Jade Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon has 55 percent Napa County and 42 percent Sonoma County fruit and goes for 11 bucks. Reports of an economic revival suggest better times ahead. The fortunes of high-end wineries, at least the ones that survived the downturn, may be looking brighter. But it’s going to take a long time and lots of mops to sop up this sea of excess.
(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)