Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Too pricey?

This was a lovely wine, the proof is it's all gone.  I purchased this bottle of Quintessa's  2016, 'Illumination' Sauvignon Blanc (SB) when I visited the winery back in January.  I can't remember what I paid for it (there was a small inter-winery discount involved), but on Quintessa's website it says this wine retails for $50.00.  And by my reckoning, that's about $20.00 too much.
Wine pricing is a funny old thing.  The average consumer could be forgiven for asking, "Why is this wine priced thus?"  Well, the wine's packaging is a little upscale, it comes in a Rhone-style bottle (how trite) and there is some flashy gold on the label, but packaging alone shouldn't make a significant impact on the retail price of this wine.  The cost of SB grapes is on the rise in the Napa Valley.  In fact, SB is in danger of becoming more scarce, indeed many growers are ripping out this delightful white grape and planting Cabernet Sauvignon in its place.  Having said that, I looked up the average price per ton of SB grapes (Napa County Crop Report) when I started blogging in 2008 and it was $1,905.91.  In 2017 the average cost had risen to $2,012.00.  That's a whopping increase of $106.09 over a 10 year period.  (By no stretch of the imagination is that a significant price hike.)
Yes, I enjoyed this $50.00 SB, it was a beautiful glass of wine; a little heavier of the palate than most SBs, adequate acid, a lovely grapefruit/mandarin orange citrus-y-ness and a lingering finish.  However, I don't think I enjoyed it enough to pay full retail.
Quintessa is a pretty swanky winery, so I believe it is up to the proprietors to maintain some aura of exclusivity.  I'm thinking the folks that can afford to drink Quintessa wines are Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados who aren't necessarily white wine drinkers (I meet people like that all the time), but might be persuaded to buy an overpriced, in my humble estimation, SB.  I am not Quintessa's audience.
Call me cheap, but I'd rather have two bottles of SB from a Napa Valley producer such as Honig or St. Supéry.  Or even better, three bottles (or, perhaps, four if it's on sale) of that old Kiwi stalwart, Kim Crawford.  My little pea-brain just doesn't understand expensive SBs.  I have tasted the Illumination once, I don't need to try it again.


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Fascinating review!
After once, a $50 SB is indeed enough! I'm inclined to add two SBs to your short list, and these for under $20 as excellent substitutes: Frog's Leap and Groth.

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Fascinating? D'ya think?
Two excellent additions. However, I am assuming you don't mean the $95.00 SB that Frog's Leap sells. Titter, titter.

Thud said...

Fiat lux....or not in your case.