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09.04.2004

What's the Lowest Priced 95 Point Wine? Now You Can Find Out

Most of the time, when the wine magazines talk about "values" they're talking about wines that they can barely bring themselves to rate because they're under $15 and drunk mostly by the proletariat. To the rest of the us, value is just a simple equation -- am I getting a good wine at a great price? It may be $22 but taste as good as wines three times its price, or it may be $90 instead of $150. Either way, I want wines that incorporate as little snobbery and as few big marketing budgets into the price as possible. Well now there may be a wine publication that solves that problem. Here's their press release (note that the first issue of this publication is free from the link below).

QPRwines Introduces Industry's First Point-to-Price Index That Ranks Wines on Value

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Sept. 1, 2004 -- The wine industry's first ranking of wines based on critics' average scores and current retail prices was launched today by Neil Monnens, founder of another wine guide, WineRelease.com. Published as QPRwines, a monthly buying guide, the index eases wine enthusiasts' search for the best wine value at a given price point.

The September 1st issue of QPRwines, which ranks 2000 Bordeaux wines, is available free and can be obtained from QPRwines.com. [actually you have to request it, but I have it available for download here - 614k PDF]. Subsequent issues, each ranking a different variety and vintage, are available at an annual subscription price of $25.

"QPRwines is a helpful tool for all levels of wine buyers, from the novice to the connoisseur, because it reveals the best values for the quality of wine they aim to purchase," according to Monnens. "Whether it is a wine to drink tonight, to age for later, or to provide a return on their investment, consumers want to get the best value for their wine dollar. QPRwines reveals which wines are values, and which wines aren't."

QPRwines, and Monnens' other site, WineRelease.com (which publishes past, present and future wine release dates) support consumers by making smart wine buying decisions easier. "In the last decade, two trends have emerged -- one that makes wine drinking more enjoyable and another that makes wine buying more of a challenge," said Monnens. "The first has to do with overall quality: today there are simply fewer wines to avoid. The flip side of that is with so many new labels and second labels from established brands, consumers now have many shades of 'great' to choose from. Scores, reviews and medals help somewhat, but there are simply too many data points in too many different places."

How QPRwines Works

Each issue of QPRwines groups wines by score, lists them by price and ranks them by value. A wine's QPR (Quality-Price Ratio) is how much more or less it costs compared to the average price of similarly scored wines. For example, the average price for a 93-rated 2000 Bordeaux is $119. But the 2000 Chateau Pontet-Canet from Pauillac costs only $50 -- a number that is 42% of the average price for a 93-point wine. Pontet-Canet thus has a QPR of 42%.

So obviously this newsletter doesn't get around the fact that ratings are still ratings (subjective, fallible, and things that everyone loves to hate) but it does add some more "business intelligence" to the process of buying wine. One of the things I don't like about the newsletter is that it doesn't tell you where or who the rating comes from. Hopefully those aren't all Wilfred Wong scores...

The first issue covers 2000 Bordeaux, one of the most overpriced vintages in recent memory. Let me know what you think of it.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud