Sunday, February 24, 2019

Wine Prices, Part 2

Recently we posted about wine prices and how we expect to pay more for better wine.  On August 14, 2017, Science Daily reported on a University of Bonn study on the subject.  Thirty subjects, fifteen men and fifteen women, participated in the study by lying down for an MRI and tasting wines through tubes.  All of the wines tasted were purchased locally at the same average retail price.  The price of the wine shown to the subjects before tasting varied greatly either higher or lower than the actual retail price.  As might be expected, the "higher priced" wines were deemed to be better.

In medicine we are all familiar with the placebo effect and something similar is demonstrated here.  The marketing placebo effect shows that identical products can be perceived differently solely due to the price given to them.  The medial prefrontal cortex integrates price comparison and expectation while the ventral stratum of the brain integrates reward and motivation.  The MRI scanning showed both to be activated by the showing of the higher prices before tasting.  Then with that expectation in place the actual tasting of the wine skewed higher.

So if you expect something to taste better, your brain tricks you into enjoying the properties you ascribe to the "higher priced" subject.  If "quality has its price", well then, of course, we would enjoy the wine that cost more.

This Thursday after 5pm we will probably be tasting Italians here at the store.  I say "probably" because we don't actually have things set yet.  In any event, please join us for the event.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Crljenak Kastelanski

Let's just call it "CK."  Or maybe we should call it the heirloom Zinfandel of Croatia.  We'll go with CK cause it's easier to type.

Zinfandel has always been thought to have origins in Europe even when California was claiming it as their own.  It just had too many similarities to European vinifera grapes, in particular, the Primitivo grape of southern Italy.

Then with the advent of genetic testing in the late 1990's, Italians and American lovers-of-all-things-Italian could rejoice.  The grape was in fact determined to be one and the same.  Zinfandel was Primitivo.  Unfortunately the joy for Italianophiles was short-lived because Primitivo was then determined to be the Tripidrag grape of Croatia.

Tripidrag is a truly historic Croatian grape mentioned in fifteenth century literature.  It is also historically documented to have found favor in other Mediterranean nations including Italy.  In fact Tripidrag means "the first to ripen" while Primitivo means "early ripening" so, yeah, they're one and the same.

So where does CK come into this? And what the heck is Plavac Mali?

Plavac Mali (PM?) is the most popular grape of Croatia and as soon as the Zinfandel discussion moved to Croatia it was assumed it was Zinfandel.  It isn't.  Crljenak Kastelanski, which translates as the "black grape of Kastela," a community in the Dalmatia region, is genetically identical to Tripidrag and may even be closer to the clone of Zinfandel of California.  So CK is Zinfandel.

Over time names of things change so Tripidrag is now called Pribidrag in Croatia, just in case you thought you were beginning to understand this convoluted post.

All of the above is here to announce Ridge Vineyards of Sonoma Valley will soon be making a red blend consisting of 1/3 each of CK, PM, and our own California Zinfandel (CZ?).

Whew, I need to sit down and take a break.

Please join us this Thursday the 21st after 5pm when Morgan Miller joins us with a tasting of Sonoma Valley wines from Gehricke Vineyards.  We will taste their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.  Please join us!

Monday, February 4, 2019

When Wine is Too Cheap

"If it doesn't sell, mark it up!"  That's an old saying in the wine business.  If something sells too well at a given price, market forces dictate you really should go up on it.  But why would you mark it up if it's not selling?

I like to make the claim that I can sell a better bottle of wine at any price than anyone else in Gainesville.  I have no problem with making that claim.  Since this little boutique shop conjures up an image of being pricey, I like to emphasize the bargains at the lower end of the price spectrum.  You want better everyday wines?  Well, come right in!

The only problem is, it doesn't work that way.  People shop here because they expect to spend more for their better wines.  While I get it, I still like to sell the cheap stuff.  So my ten dollar bargains aren't going away any time soon.

Back on November 10th of last year, Lettie Teague wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.  She said it was "too affordable" and suggested if they wanted to capture more of the Napa market, they should raise prices so the public will recognize their quality, which is kind of sad if you think about it.

We had a wine rack full of Chileans at the front to the store for a couple years.  Now we have a smaller selection at the back.  They just didn't sell.  Last month a customer who was familiar with the wines bought my last bottle of Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon, a $25 bottle.  He had spent some time in Chile and had been to Lapostolle so he definitely knew what he was getting.

In the article referenced above, Teague likes Lapostolle and several others we need here in the store.  She also says Chilean Cabernet is more like Bordeaux with its character and structure than it is like California Cabernet but it has a slightly "green" component in its flavor profile that some people can't get past.  She also compares its salinity to the great Margaret River Cabernets of coastal of Australia.  Maybe we need to give both Chile and Margaret River a fresh start here.

This Thursday the 7th at 5pm Dominique Chambon gives us a tasting of three French Burgundies and an Italian Sangiovese Rose.  Then the following week there will be no Thursday tasting since it's Valentine's Day.  Instead we will have a Tuesday the 12th tasting with Rob Dye.