The US economy has been tough for the past few years, and the US dollar has lost a lot of ground against the Euro and other currencies. This translates to higher costs for most commodities, including wine.
Some of my favorite wines are from the Rhone region of France. Chateneauf du Pape, Cornas, Gigondas are just some of the styles I love. While shopping for these wines late last year, my salesperson told me to look through the catalog for some of the older vintages that they still had in stock. I was amazed at how much cheaper I could buy some of these older vintages versus the new releases.
Instead of purchasing the new vintage of Chateauneuf du Pape, I opted to stock up on the better producers for the years 1998 through 2003. The retailer bought these wines years ago at a price significantly lower then the new vintage. Many retailers have held the pricing on these wines to encourage sales and to deplete their inventory. This offers an opportunity for wine lovers to grab a real bargain.
Why wouldn’t you consider buying past vintages of quality winemakers? The wine has had some time to develop in the bottle possibly improving in character. Most often the tannins soften providing a better drinking experience. Most importantly, you can save a few dollars allowing you to buy better wine for the same price.
In every city you can find a retailer that has past vintages stored in a temperature controlled warehouse. Many have on-line catalogs that allow you to peruse what wines and vintages are available. In Washington, DC, I buy from McArthur Beverage http://www.bassins.com/, Calvert Woodley – http://www.wineaccess.com/ and Schneiders – http://www.cellar.com/ . All of these stores have past vintages that are available to purchase.
If you are not in the DC area, check the larger stores in your specific area to see if they have a web presence. You can also inquire with the stores directly regarding availability of past vintages.
Good luck, and let me know what bargains you find! I will share them in a future article.