What do you see in this picture? I see a lot, and its interesting.
December 30, 2009
So, what do YOU see in this picture? I took it Christmas Eve Day. Think about it, I'll wait. ***
You probably just see wine on sale in a grocery store, right? Common sight, you've walked past them a million times. Maybe checking to see if something is a good deal. There is more. Oh so much more. Go, look again. I'll wait.
Anyone figure it out yet? Hands?? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?...Buehler?? Nobody?
Ok, These are 15 plus cases stacked each of Silver Oak, Caymus Cabernet and Rombauer Chardonnay...On the floor of a grocery store. On SALE. Is the enormity of the implications of this beginning to dawn on you yet? They should. It's important. It's a paradigm shift in the market actually. This is significant, folks.
Five short years ago, this photograph would not have been possible. Period. When I was in retail, we used to have a term for these wines "Unobtainium". One had to beg, plead, grovel and promise first born children to even be permitted to GET a case or two of these wines. They were locked in back rooms, never on the shelf, doled out by the bottle or two to your best and most loyal customers. The wineries demanded that perhaps one case in ONE HUNDRED sent to the market could be sold retail. The rest, strictly for "on premise" or restaurants, and even they were limited in their supply. The thought that a local grocery store would have a 20 case stack of Silver Oak or Caymus, and have it ON SALE no less, well, you would have been laughed at or thought to be under the influence.
Yet here it is. An undoctored photo taken with my iPhone a few days ago. And the stacks are still there, as of yesterday, by the way. and they even have had a 20% off the case sale ON TOP of the sale price all week. Yet they remain.
Folks, this is huge, major. It bears witness to what I have been saying for about a year now. The "over $30" segment for wine is DEAD. Dead, dead, deadsky. Give them their handbook for the Deceased and call Betelguese. These stacks are possible because the wineries CAN NOT SELL these wines. Restaurants aren't buying them, because CUSTOMERS aren't buying them. Want more proof that I speak truthiness here?
OK, remember I said these stacks have been up since before Christmas and are still there? Five years ago, these wines would have sold out in perhaps two or three DAYS in this same grocery store. These stacks barely trickle out a few bottles in a WEEK and on sale no less.
The market has shifted, and we're not talking about a little 2.0 shiver on the Richter scale. This is akin to a 9.0 that would push Los Angeles up into the San Francisco zip codes people.
Gone are the days where high profile wines could demand at their will and raise their prices faster than OPEC on a bad day and STILL sell the stuff like water. Now, you can't give them away on sale. Nobody will spend big bucks on big label wines anymore. WOW.
Ya wanna know a secret? I'm thrilled. Pleased, secretly and quietly doing a jig of joy. Some semblence of common sense is back in the wine market. These wines have for years now been a JOKE. Those like me in the wine trade have made JOKES of these wines for the last decade. Because they were. "Silver Over-rated" was my term. People slavering over themselves, wetting their pants to pay way too much money for a wine that tasted like oak extract with crappy fruit.
Caymus? was a good bottle of $25 Napa Cab. North of $50 is highway robbery for what is in the bottle.
These folks just sat back for years and pulled off a bigger consumer rip off than Bernie Madoff did. And people were happy to participate! Well, a new day has dawned folks. Yr Mst Hmbl & Obdt Srvt here is glad to see that now you have to give the customer VALUE for their dollar. No longer can you ride a long threadbare coattail of long past merit because stupid people will pay a $40 premium for the name on the label. Sing Hossanas of Joy my friends. Watch the prices collapse and reap the benefits for your cellar.
To a wonderful New Year, full of promise, and hope and I wish all of you nothing but the best wines in your glass for all of 2010. Life is too short to drink crap wine.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting, thanks for teaching me, thanks for everything of 2009, it's been tough, losing my Dad and all the world's ills this year, but there was always great wine, and the great wine PEOPLE to share them and befriend, and the time to enjoy them.
Austin Wine Guy