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05.06.2009

The Fine Wine Bubble of the Early 21st Century

While in most media circles, the larger global economic meltdown consumes the lion's share of attention, the wine world is experiencing its own nasty correction. Many top wineries, especially those with bottle prices over $80 find themselves struggling to sell their wines as the usual outlets are simply refusing purchases that they used to beg for.

Vegas restaurants, long-standing bastions of "I don't care what it costs as long as it sounds expensive" buying habits, are dumping their allocations of high-end wines like ballast water from an unstable ship. Cult wineries with mailing lists that had waiting lists thousands of members long are now struggling to find people to buy their wines, especially if they make more than a few thousand cases.

But more than anything else, the largest bellwether of a true collapse in the fine wine market are the high end Bordeaux wines, and the companies that have pimped them along a skyrocketing trajectory of pricing whose incline was no less irresponsible and unsustainable as any of the credit-default-swaps that brought down the global economy.

My fellow blogger Keith Levenberg wrote a lovely piece about this phenomenon that I highly recommend reading.

The phenomenon is certainly not restricted to Napa and Bordeaux, however. There are plenty of other wine regions that have massively over-invested based on the impossible hope that wine prices and demand would continue to soar at the top end of the market.

It's sad to see the wine industry suffer at all, but it certainly wouldn't be a bad thing to weed out a lot of chaff from the marketplace, and bring some of the outrageous prices (and pretensions) back down to earth.


Thanks to Jack at Fork & Bottle for the tip on Keith's post.

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