The Thrill of the Deal

I did a post earlier today for the On the Trail blog about 2012 Bordeaux which you can read here, but I want to use that post to talk about context in the greater alcohol world. Value plays a big role in our enjoyment of fine things. If you're reading this blog I'm assuming you like to treat yourself to luxury every now and again. If not, then you've probably found this page by accident. This is a site dedicated to the consumption of fancy booze. It's not a blog about important global issues that affect our daily lives. FYI—in case you didn't know. So because we like to treat ourselves every now and again (or all the time, in my case), I feel even more special when I know I scored a hot deal on that very enjoyment. For me personally, 2012 Bordeaux is that hot deal. It's a vintage where three very important factors played a role in decreasing the overall price points, allowing someone like me to afford wines that are normally out of reach:

1) 2011 was a very bad vintage. After two incredible harvests, everything went wrong in 2011 and the Bordelais were forced to lower their prices. They could have raised the prices back up for 2012, except that...

2) The vintage was late. Everything happened late. Because the wines were picked late and fermented late, they were still a bit closed when en premier tasting happened in April of 2013. The critics had a rough time coming to any sort of conclusion about the quality of the harvest, so there was a lot of uncertainty and prices remained low.

3) The Euro began to tank. Right now is a great time to go to Europe. The dollar is at 1.09 against the Euro compared to the 1.4 it was trading at a few years back. With prices already low for the 2012 we gained a significant amount of additional traction with a stronger currency.

When we got our first shipments of 2009 Leoville Las Cases—easily one of the top ten wines of Bordeaux, year after year—all I could do was dream about owning a bottle. The wine was absolutely magnificent, easily considered one of the best in the vintage. They're still selling for $350 a piece today at K&L, but compare that to the $129.99 we're currently offering the 2012 for. You see a price reduction like that and you immediately think: something must be wrong with that wine. Just like when you see a Ferragamo handbag for under $1000 or a Chanel purse for 50% off, you know something must be amiss in order for the price to be that low. However, I've spent the last few days tasting through a significant number of 2012 Bordeaux expressions and I can't find a bad one in the bunch! Not only are they not bad, they're freakin' fantastic! In many cases, I like the 2012 expressions more than a number of their 2009 and 10 counterparts.


It's the difference between $349.99 for the 2009 Clinet and $79.99 for the 2012, which is absolutely stunning. It's the difference between $299.99 for the 2009 Pape Clement and $89.99 for the 2012. Imagine you always wanted to buy a brand new S-Class Mercedes, but couldn't afford the 100K. Then you suddenly get the chance to buy one for 40K due to a number of economic phenomena. That's what's happening here in 2012. There's an entire populace of wine drinkers that isn't buying into the vintage due to perceived lack of quality. But now the big critics are circling back and realizing their error. We tasted the 2012 d'Issan on Tuesday and I about died—violets, soft plum, and fine tannins. A wine that sold for $90 in the 2009 vintage was now going for $49.99 from 2012—and the 2012 was better! Even Robert Parker had to release a new review, stating: "I underrated this wine dramatically in my report from April 2013."

Meanwhile, I'm backing up the truck. These wines are right up my alley. Lower in alcohol, lighter in fruit, more delicate in profile, and sooner to maturity. These are five to ten year cellar candidates in many cases. You can stock up and treat yourself over the next decade for prices that in no way reflect the luxury status of these chateaux. As a shopper, it's rare that I ever see a price-to-quality ratio this out of whack. Of course, you could always make the case that the nines and tens were overpriced to begin with. That may have been the case, but they still sold through. And I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll