Magazine article Sunset

Where Are the Deals?

Magazine article Sunset

Where Are the Deals?

Article excerpt

Wine buyers reveal how to get the most for your money

They say it's a buyer's market out there-that a glut of grapes has joined forces with the struggling economy to push wine prices down and create real deals. We went to wineshop buyers to find out if this is true.

Howard Padgett, wine buyer for Beltramo's Wine & Spirits in Menlo Park, California, cautions that, even in these times, "lots of wines taste like they're priced appropriately. 'Two Buck Chuck' [Trader Joe's infamous $1.99 wine] is not a deal."He looks for the overachiever, the wine that tastes like it cost twice its price.

While there's general agreement that high-end wineries haven't lowered their prices, Steve Springston, wine buyer for Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle, does believe that ramped-up grape production has affected prices. "Five years ago people were planting grapes in every potato field in Washington," he says. That pushed the price of fruit down, and the extra wine on the market did the same for midrange bottles: Some $15 wines are down about 20 percent.

That extra grape juice has also created a whole class of "mystery wines." As John Kennedy of Great Wine Buys in Portland explains it, many negociants are buying and blending bulk wine and bottling it under private labels unconnected to a known winery. Some of these wines are better than they should be for the price; some are not.

Mystery wines and second labels

In the better-than-expected category of mystery labels, Kennedy offers Annabella 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, botded by Michael Pozzan Winery-a phenomenal Cab for $10. …

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