For example, the comment:
> You left out the thousands of dollars it costs to put an ad in the
> to insure a good review and lots of positive editorial comments.
sounds like a nice swipe on the surface, but ask yourself, "Do you really see WS ads for those $100 Cabs? What point would there be in placing such ads when many of them are totally sold out to mailing lists? WS and other reviewers may have an agenda in terms of what they think wine should be like, but I'm not sure that we need to resort to allegations of payback to advertisers to explain the results. Indeed, we saw a great example of this in the CA versus France Pinot comparison a while back where it was so conspicuous that the two reviewers had very different criteria.
I also think that we need to be a little careful about thinking about everyone with a higher priced wine as evil. To be sure, the price difference is very unlikely to be justified by the difference in the cost of materials and production, even if we throw in promotion and marketing, but I hadn't noticed that much in this economy was driven just by costs of production. Can you explain the difference in cost between a Ferrari and a Chevy by a difference in cost of production?
I think we need to realize that there are multiple factors at work here. Some is cost of production, promotion, development, etc. Some is difference in quantity produced (to make a good living off of a 500 case production, you need to make more profit per bottle than if your have a 5000 case production). Some is charging what the market will bear (generally considered a sound pricing policy unless one happens to be the consumer). Some is prestige (if they are getting X for Bordeaux, I need to charge Y for my wine to keep it being perceived as being in the same class by the market). And yes, some is how greedy the particular producer is.
In this last aspect, we who are Coffaro fans are particularly lucky in having a producer who makes wonderful wine which I am sure could fetch a more premium price with a little promotion, but who is content with modest return so he not only keeps the price down, but he offers especially favorable futures pricing and, on top of it all, is conscientious enough to control the sales so that it doesn't all go to a select short list. This is extremely commendable and very fortunate for those of us who are in on the "secret", but that doesn't mean that everyone else with more conventional motives should be considered evil.
In fact, I think the real source of the elevated prices in recent years has less to do with greedy producers than it has to do with the nature of the market. With more and more people "getting the message" about fine wine, particularly the bubble we got from Asia before the troubles there, we had higher and higher demand for wines that were in scarce demand. So, what would you do if you were a Bordeaux producer who was selling his product for $50 a bottle only to have it showing up at auction a month later for $300? Would you want that speculator middleman to continue to get five times the profit that you the producer was getting?
One of the real dilemmas we have in this market isn't just the high
prices from some producers, but the poor correlation between price and
quality. The people that get me are not the limited production producers
that make really great wine, but the ones who don't make very good wine,
but manage to promote themselves well enough to charge big bucks for it
anyway. I'm sorry, but Caymus Napa just isn't a very special wine.
Lokoya Rutherford is -- I can't afford to buy it by the case, but I don't
feel ripped off when I taste it. I've spent three times the price
in a wine store than I have paid on futures price for Coffaro wines and
I feel no problem paying the higher price since I feel that I am still
getting good value at that price (making me thrilled at the futures price).
I would buy and enjoy less if I always had to pay the full retail, but
I would still feel that I was getting good value. I can't say the
same for some of those high priced wines, but I can for others.