I bet you all know or have met one. You know the type, the guy who apparently doesn’t admit to drinking anything except Lafite ’82 and who chooses off a restaurant wine list based on only one criteria: price, but usually only if someone else is paying. I should be immune to these distasteful, banal bores by now but I am not. Why the angst? Well you may recall that in the last edition of this magazine we offered our readers a great deal on Gralyn Margaret River Cabernet. The reaction was outstanding and I hope you all enjoy the wine. It is superb. I have another stunner for you below. However, I got the inevitable, nauseatingly myopic emails from a few who expressed dismay that the offer was not for French wine. Give me a break! Let me set the record straight from the outset. I am a huge fan and avid imbiber of French wine, especially the best of Bordeaux. It remains the yardstick by which I measure all wine. I consume wine daily but simply cannot afford to drink the best of Bordeaux on a regular basis given the extraordinary price increases in them over the past five years or so. I am not Bill Gates nor do I work for AIG. I don’t actually know anyone, including all my Gallic friends, who consume top French wines on a regular basis, but I know too many people who bluster on as if that’s all they ever drink. Good luck to those who can and do. I would be delighted to meet and discuss your cellar needs over a bottle or three. If you don’t mind, I will bring a fine, spicy Rhone Syrah.
For those who only drink French, wake up and smell the coffee! There are a number of sensational and relatively inexpensive wines from all over the world that absolutely demand the attention of wine lovers everywhere. You can keep your heads buried firmly in the sand and pretend they do not exist but it is not particularly big or clever. That should make sure my email box is filled once again.
My next missile is aimed directly at the small but persistent number of retailers and brokers who hail from the Bernie Madoff School of client relations. These scoundrels continue to quite irresponsibly and dishonestly advise clients that wine prices have not adjusted downwards during the current economic calamity. On the contrary, they insist that investment grade wine is basically the only asset class (apart from gold) that has not retreated to 2004 levels. They point to unchanged retail price-tags or tiny lots traded at auction to justify their arguments. Believe me, these are not indicative of the true market price or present values. If you try to liquidate your portfolio you will be horribly disappointed by the real prices available.
If however you are a buyer, there are some real value propositions that are worth exploring. Whilst the bottom is probably not yet in place, I am seeing some excellent parcels of investment grade wine changing hands at what I would call fair prices, which is generally 30-50% down from the stupid levels of a year ago. Drop me an email if you need some advice. - Robert Rees
Robert is a founder of Wine Exchange Asia, serving customers in Singapore and Hong Kong. For more information please visit wineexchangeasia.com or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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