The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell)

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:51 am

Wine Inflation

Some days I remind myself of my grandfather. Late in his life, he spent a fair amount of time checking prices and complaining about how expensive everything had become since the days of the good five-cent cigar. Reminding him that salaries had pretty much risen to keep pace with price inflation did not comfort him much; and nowadays I'm discovering similar attitudes in myself when I step into the wine store.

Let me tell you young whippersnappers: When I started writing about wine back in 1980, you could get a good bottle of French or Italian wine for $4 or so; a decent California wine probably went for a dollar or so less. Cheap wines from Spain, Australia, New Zealand or South America weren't a real option because, frankly, we barely knew that those countries made wine, and we certainly weren't likely to find them at most retail shops in the U.S.

The conventional wisdom among retailers at the time held that only wine-loving rich people would pay more than $6 for a bottle of wine, and then only for the rarest delectables from Burgundy or Bordeaux. Confronted with a fine Barolo that I really wanted to try, I talked a buddy into sharing the cost of a bottle so we could justify the experience. It was $7.50.

With memories like that (and never mind that my annual wage as a mild-mannered reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper in 1980 would barely reach poverty level today), it's hard not to feel "sticker shock" when I see the threshold price for "interesting" wines approaching $10 in 2006. Harrumph!

How much have wine prices <i>really</i> increased, if inflation is taken into account? Certainly if we consider the "cultish" wines at nosebleed price levels, the sought-after collectibles that the Usual Suspects rate with 90-plus scores, pricing has gone crazy. Few wine lovers with any sense are buying 2005 Bordeaux futures (although that caveat still leaves a sizable number of people baying at the moon with their wallets held open).

But in the more-or-less affordable $10 to $20 range where most of us look for our everyday wines, is inflation really out of control? Well ... maybe not. I Googled up a simple, quick Inflation Calculator, plugged in a couple of 1980 price points, and got back these results:

* What cost $4 in 1980 would cost $10.16 in 2005.
* What cost $6 in 1980 would cost $15.24 in 2005.
* What cost $7.50 in 1980 would cost $19.05 in 2005.

Viewed in this light, maybe today's $10 bottle isn't so outrageous after all. Particularly when it's as well-built and interesting a wine as today's featured item from Spain. Made by Bodegas Olivares in the Jumilla region from the Monastrell grape (which most of the rest of the world knows by its French name, Mourvèdre), it's a bit on the "international" side, as most modern Spanish wines are; but the earthy character and structural acidity and tannins of the grape bang through the fruit to make a wine that's an unusually good value. Even for an inflated $10.

<table border="0" align="right" width="155"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/alto0817.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell ($9.59)

Very dark reddish-purple, almost black, with a bright red-garnet edge. Dark fruit, plums and cherries, pleasant if a bit shy on the nose. More forward in the flavor department, ripe black fruit and mixed berries, mouth-watering acidity and chalky tannins. Alcohol is on the high side at 14 percent, but the wine carries it well. A splash (8%) of Grenache perks up the Monastrell in the blend. Very good value. U.S. importer: Vieux Vins Inc., Vineburg, Calif., A Rare Wine Co. Selection. (Aug. 17, 2006)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> It's on the verge of being too robust for delicate veal <i>polpette</i>, but turning the meatballs into "cheeseburgers" by stacking them on small eggy buns with <i>caprese</i> rounds makes a big difference, as the fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella bring the dish up to meet the inky wine.

<B>VALUE:</B> At $10 or less, this one is likely to make my year-end "Best QPR" list.

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> Although Monastrell/Mourvèdre is an ageworthy variety and the wine shows good tannins and balance that suggest some potential for aging, the black solid-plastic cork doesn't inspire long-term cellaring. Drink up over the next year or so.

<B>PRONUNCIATION:</B>
<b>Jumilla</b> = "<i>Hoo-MEEL-yah</i>"
<b>Monastrell</b> = "<i>Moe-nah-STRELL</i>"

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
Here's a report on Altos de la Hoya on the Website of an importer, Polaner Selections.

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Find vendors and check prices for Altos de la Hoya Jumilla on Wine-Searcher.com.
no avatar
User

Howard

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

454

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:57 pm

Location

Chicago

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell)

by Howard » Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:33 pm

Your points are well taken using inflation adjusted numbers but what about the cost for a case of 2eme Bordeaux? I noticed today that Winebid has a case of 2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou starting at nearly $200/bottle!! What was it going for in 1980? Was it as good then as it is now?

A pity I'll never get to taste any of this. Tulip bulbs anyone?
Howard
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:37 pm

Howard wrote:Your points are well taken using inflation adjusted numbers but what about the cost for a case of 2eme Bordeaux? I noticed today that Winebid has a case of 2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou starting at nearly $200/bottle!! What was it going for in 1980? Was it as good then as it is now?

A pity I'll never get to taste any of this. Tulip bulbs anyone?


Howard, I think your allusion to the great 17th century tulip bulb bubble is well taken ... I did make an effort to focus my hypothesis on the "affordable" niche and except the "collectible" category, but maybe I should have made it more clear higher up in the story.
no avatar
User

Howard

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

454

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:57 pm

Location

Chicago

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Howard » Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:45 pm

No, no, Robin, I understood that you meant "affordable" but was good claret unaffordable back then? Was Clinet or Gazin or any of the other "lesser" houses the equivalent of 50-60-80/bottle? Are wines much better now to justify it? Somehow I had this naive impression that a good glass of bordeaux used to be available for a reasonable price, not a Lafite or Mouton, but not necessarily a jug wine either. Just a good glass of bordeaux with dinner. Was it like that?
Howard
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:11 pm

Howard wrote:I understood that you meant "affordable" but was good claret unaffordable back then? Was Clinet or Gazin or any of the other "lesser" houses the equivalent of 50-60-80/bottle? Are wines much better now to justify it? Somehow I had this naive impression that a good glass of bordeaux used to be available for a reasonable price, not a Lafite or Mouton, but not necessarily a jug wine either. Just a good glass of bordeaux with dinner. Was it like that?


You know, Howard, my memories are anecdotal, and I don't have my TNs from that early era on the computer, so I can't look them up easily. I do have a lot of very old ('80s) newspaper clippings around, and if I can dig them up, it might be a lot of fun to take a closer look at the prices I paid in those days. I honestly didn't drink a LOT of Bordeaux, but I do remember writing about Pontet-Canet in a late '70s vintage, and I don't think I could have paid more than $6 or $7 for it, because I didn't generally review the "really expensive" wines in the newspaper. I do remember buying a fair number of 1982s, not the first growths but labels like Gloria and maybe even Cos, and it seems to me that $10 was my personal limit at that point.

I'll try to dig up more notes, and maybe others who were buying wine in the '80s or even the '70s will chime in.
no avatar
User

Howard

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

454

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:57 pm

Location

Chicago

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Howard » Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:02 am

I do remember writing about Pontet-Canet in a late '70s vintage, and I don't think I could have paid more than $6 or $7 for it, because I didn't generally review the "really expensive" wines in the newspaper. I do remember buying a fair number of 1982s, not the first growths but labels like Gloria and maybe even Cos, and it seems to me that $10 was my personal limit at that point.


And that's kind of my point. Using the inflation calculator, a $10 bottle of wine then (1985) would cost around $17.50 now, still pretty reasonable. A $200 bottle of wine now would have been around $117 then (1985). So I don't think it's just the trophy wines that have become outrageously expensive but many of the wines we'd normally think about having several times a week.

I'm not saying that you can't find a good bottle of wine for a reasonable price out there, there's lots of good stuff at good prices. It's just that I like Bordeaux, and it's getting harder to find good Bordeaux at reasonable prices. :(
Howard
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Robin Garr » Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:04 am

Howard wrote:It's just that I like Bordeaux, and it's getting harder to find good Bordeaux at reasonable prices. :(


I think it's entirely possible, Howard, that Bordeaux might be an exception to the general hypothesis that most wines have not exceeded the pace of inflation over the past 20 years or so.

It also occurs to me that Bordeaux might be the one region in which Parker's influence has been strongest, and one in which he retains a personal hand even as he spins off many other wine regions to surrogates?
no avatar
User

Thomas

Rank

Senior Flamethrower

Posts

3580

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Thomas » Sat Aug 19, 2006 5:40 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Howard wrote:It's just that I like Bordeaux, and it's getting harder to find good Bordeaux at reasonable prices. :(


I think it's entirely possible, Howard, that Bordeaux might be an exception to the general hypothesis that most wines have not exceeded the pace of inflation over the past 20 years or so.

It also occurs to me that Bordeaux might be the one region in which Parker's influence has been strongest, and one in which he retains a personal hand even as he spins off many other wine regions to surrogates?


Bingo!
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

10655

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell)

by Hoke » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:51 pm

Robin:

I was visiting Milwaukee at the end of the week and had occasion to go out to dinner at Sabor, a Brazilian churrascaria-styled restaurant (otherwise known as death by meat).

Saw the Altos de la Hoya on the list and based on what you wrote about the wine, I figured it would be great with grilled and spiced red meat.

It was. The wine was much as you described it, with those great black fruit qualities of the mourvedre, a little bit of tar as well, and the crisp bite of the garnacha chiming in on the finish.

With the various cuts of grilled meats (sirloin, garlic steak, chicken wrapped in bacon, filet mignon also wrapped in bacon, lamb chops, dry rub pork ribs, and Brazilian chorizo, the wine was a great match and a QPR delight at all of $22 on the list!
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Robin Garr » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:09 am

Hoke wrote:The wine was much as you described it


Whew! It's always a relief when you guys say that, Hoke! :)

Thanks for the report ... those Brazilian "death-by-meat" places seem to be spreading around the US fast, although we don't have one here yet. I wouldn't trade Palermo Viejo for it, though ...
no avatar
User

Clinton Macsherry

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

359

Joined

Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:50 pm

Location

Baltimore MD

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell)

by Clinton Macsherry » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:31 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Made by Bodegas Olivares in the Jumilla region from the Monastrell grape (which most of the rest of the world knows by its French name, Mourvèdre) . . .


Just makes me wonder where Mourvedre's other alias, "Mataro," comes from. Sure sounds Spanish. Hmmm . . .
FEAR THE TURTLE ! ! !
User avatar
User

Bill Buitenhuys

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1519

Joined

Mon Mar 20, 2006 2:47 pm

Location

Phoenix metro

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastrell)

by Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:42 pm

Clinton, the winegrapeglossary defines as:
MATARO:
New World alias name for the Mourvedre grape variety. (See below).

MOURVÈDRE:
Robust mediterranean hot climate grape variety widely grown in the southern Rhone region of France and mainly used to introduce color and body to the red wine blends. Normally ripens in mid-October, ie. a week or so after Carignan. Select limited plantings occur in California where the variety is often called the Mataro, a relationship recently confirmed (3/98.) by DNA analysis at UC Davis, and are used to produce a wine that sometimes develops the "green tea-like" herbal character that Rhone region french growers refer to as "animalé". Common false aliases, probably due to early mis-identification, in Australia are Mataro, Morrastel and Graciano. The cultivar known as Monastrell that is grown in Spain and previously thought to be identical is not related.

MONASTRELL:
Has synonym name Morrastel). Recent DNA evidence (3/98.) suggests that the library varieties from UC Davis, California and Montpellier, France used in the tests are identical to Moristel and have no relationship to Mourvèdre. The variety thrives in warm, arid climates. With careful vinification and much racking before bottling the wines are capable of ageing well.


Hmm, I always thought monastrell and mourvedre were/are the same thing.
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

17491

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Robin Garr » Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:10 pm

Clinton Macsherry wrote:Just makes me wonder where Mourvedre's other alias, "Mataro," comes from. Sure sounds Spanish. Hmmm . . .


I think it's California Spanish, Clinton. Does anybody but Ridge use it? It's also tickling the back of my mind that it crops up in Australia, but I don't think Mataro is a common form in Spain.
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

10655

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Wine Inflation (Altos de la Hoya 2004 Jumilla Monastre

by Hoke » Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:47 pm

Didn't the name Mataro come from the port town from whence wine was shipped?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 5 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign