Playing the (wine) market
I'm sure you've read the stories about investors who filled their cellars with California Cabernet and the Rothschilds' Bordeaux in hopes of making a killing. Maybe you've even thought about taking a flyer in this market, figuring you can always drink your losses!
But the wine-loving bulls of Wall Street to the contrary, wine as a financial investment is a risky thing. Fine wine is far less predictable than more traditional investment commodities.
What's more, the would-be wine investor also must consider long-term storage. Temperature-controlled cellaring facilities are critical - either a naturally cooled or electric cellar unit capable of storing all of your wine at a constant 55F (13C). Even then, a power failure can wipe out your inventory; while a negative review from a major wine critic can impose a paper loss from which you'll never recover.
My advice? Anyone who views wine as a mere investment would be better advised to get into more traditional markets that hold a more substantial hope for success. But if you're investing in wine simply for your own pleasure, looking for your profits in tasting enjoyment, then you can hardly lose.
I wrote the original article from which today's comments are summarized early in 1998, when the dot-com economy was roaring and just about everybody was looking for something to invest in. Five years later, the world economy has changed; but bull market or bear market, I'll stand by my conservative advice.
This week we've had two first-rate submissions that offer new looks into wine investment with depth and insight:
Award-winning Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean's new article, "Bottled Blue Chips," offers an extensive view of wine investment, including the intriguing information that a case of 1995 Chateau Margaux purchased on its release in 1997 for $750 is now worth $12,000, while a case of Chateau Petrus jumped from $3,685 to $29,525 during the same period. Tempting numbers ... and MacLean goes on to dissect the investment scene in considerable detail, with numerous sidebars offering resources and practical advice. You'll find her comprehensive report at
On the more philosophical side, another old online friend, Bryan Loofbourrow, recently posted a short, thoughtful and practical commentary on wine investment in our online forum, the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. I've archived a slightly revised version of Bryan's advice at
And now, let's leave these ethereal realms of $3,685 Pomerols for something that most of us can afford. Today's tasting, a robust Syrah-based red from the South of France, is no investment wine. You can bring it home for $10 or so, and it won't gain value over time. But it's great with barbecue!
Mas Janeil 2000 Cotes du Roussillon-Villages ($9.99)
A fragrant dose of black pepper signals that there's Syrah and plenty of it in this rustic red wine from Roussillon, the western edge of Languedoc in the Pyrennees where France meets Spain and local folks speak Catalan. Inky dark reddish-purple in color, it adds plummy fruit and a whiff of floral perfume to that characteristic pepper. Black pepper is evident on the palate, too, in a full, spicy flavor with good body, smooth tannins and plenty of crisp acidity for balance. Fine with food. U.S. importer: Ex Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (Aug. 10, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with just about any red meat or even roast poultry; it made a delicious match with smoky, spicy-sauced "pulled pork" from a local barbecue joint.
VALUE: Good buy for $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: Smooth tannins and a good balance of fruit and acidity suggest some aging potential, but it's drinking fine now.
WEB LINK: J & F Lurton's Website is longer on glitz than content, frankly. The Flash plug-in is required and a high-speed connection is recommended:
California Wine Club:
Since 1990 The California Wine Club has been introducing thousands of wine enthusiasts to California's small, family-owned wineries. Each month you'll receive two bottles of hand-selected, award-winning wine and Uncorked, their entertaining 8-page newsletter. Just $32.95/month plus shipping. The wines are guaranteed, the service is terrific and this latest offer is unbeatable! For more information, or to join, call 1-800-777-4443 or visit
Certain restrictions apply to the "First Month On Them Offer:" You must be 21, arrange delivery in a state of the U.S. where permitted by law, use a major credit card for the purchase, and agree to a three-month minimum membership.
Tour the world of wine with Robin Garr in 2004
Have you dreamed of touring the world's great vineyards and wineries but held back because the challenge of arranging accommodations, finding meals and getting access to the wine makers and experts at all the wineries seemed too daunting to take on?
Here's an alternative that I hope you'll find appealing: Working in partnership with two top-rank, respected wine-travel companies, I'm planning to host two outstanding wine-region tours early next year.
From Feb. 3-12, I'll host a tour of New Zealand. Working with Wine & Food Trails of Santa Rosa, Calif., our group will visit the top wineries and restaurants and stay at first-class accommodations in Hawkes Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough. We'll learn which local artisan-produced foods pair best with New Zealand's distinct wines, meet their these passionate producers and learn where that passion comes from.
Then, from May 24-30, I'll partner for the third year with our old friends, certified Sommeliers-Conseil Lauriann Greene-Sollin and Jean-Pierre Sollin of French Wine Explorers. Our 2004 trip will cover the great wine regions Burgundy and Champagne, featuring 4-star accommodations, extensive tastings at top wine estates and dinners at some of France's best restaurants.
As always, these tours will be strictly limited in numbers, so if you think you might be interested, I urge you to get in touch with the tour operators early to reserve your place. For summary information and links to both tour organizations travel Websites, click to
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This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:
Burgundy of the Week:
The '01 vintage was no picnic in the Cote Chalonnaise, Burgundy expert Allen "Burghound" Meadows says. Nevertheless, our Burgundy of the Week, 2001 Givry "Clos Salomon" premier cru from Domaine du Clos Salomon, wins Burghound's praise for its value and overall harmony of expression. For the details, and information about subscribing to Burghound's market-leading Burgundy newsletter, click to
Real men do drink pink! Even among dedicated oenogeeks, rose wine pales, so to speak, in the face of an overwhelming preference for red wine. Rose is somehow regarded as an inferior wine masquerading as a red ... and rosť's tarnished image was not helped by news reports that Saddam Hussein's favorite mealtime rinse was pink Mateus. But a true rose is an ideal hot-weather wine. Well chilled, it can slake your summer thirst, and it's a great match for Mediterranean flavors. Dave McIntyre sings the praises of pink wine in his WineLine No. 32,
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
A Rhone bargain (Aug. 8, 2003)
Wine and summer veggies (Aug. 6, 2003)
White blends (Aug. 4, 2003)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Summer garden gratin (Aug. 7, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Aug. 11, 2003