The L.A. Times has a good piece today on so-called, high-end California nÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©gociant wines. These are labels who buy wine on the bulk market, then blend and bottle under their own brands. While this is a winning strategy in the $10 and under market, I don’t think it has legs in the ultra-premium category. That’s because wine savvy consumers who make up most of the $30-50 a bottle market are looking for more than just good juice; we are looking for specific geographical character and/or a style of a particular winemaker. These can’t be easily done in bulk market blends. Truth be told, there are many great wines on the bulk market today but most of those are snapped up by producers looking for specific elements to round out their own wines. Most of the rest are not so good; at least the one’s I’ve tasted.
So as attractive as it might sound on paper to get excess Shafer Hillside Select Cab for $40, in the real world it doesn’t turn out that way very often (if ever). For proof, see the tasting notes at the end of the Times piece; ouch!