“The best value in Aspen,” said the real estate ad in the Aspen Times. The title caught my eye, especially when I glanced down at the price for this mansion. The original price of $10.9 million had been crossed out. The new price was $6.9 million. Wow, luxury on the cheap!
In many ways that parallels what's happening in the luxury wing of the wine world. Even though prices have softened, retailers tell me they're still having a hard time these days selling the high-end wines that only a couple of years ago flew out of the store, never reaching the shelf because they all went to special customers. The most obvious of these are the big-name Bordeaux and cult California Cabernets.
Housing or wine, the dynamics are the same. When the stock market was soaring and lots of people had tons of money, they wanted to spend it on creature comforts. For some it was a $10.9-million vacation home in Aspen, for others a $1,000 bottle of Screaming Eagle. A friend of mine who was on the Screaming Eagle mailing list financed some great vacations over the years re-selling his wine for many times what he paid for it. But no more. He can’t get any takers. Same thing with that Aspen mansion. No takers.
On the other hand, having arrived Sunday for our annual summer stay in Aspen (in nothing like a $6.9 million mansion, I should add), I was struck by how busy the town seems to be. Even on the Monday after the holiday weekend, the top restaurants were full and people were waiting for tables.
So, people are still spending something for luxuries, just not as profligately as before the economy slumped. I guess if you’re not spending $6.9 million for a new house, a hundred bucks for dinner doesn’t seem so bad.
What is the wine equivalent of that? What constitutes an affordable luxury these days in a bottle of wine? How much are you willing to spend for a nice bottle of wine with dinner, or something to stash in your cellar?
I have always been eager to try something new and different. Over the years, Australian Rieslings, Argentinian Malbecs and Washington Syrahs won me over, even though I did not start out preferring any of them. When I open a restaurant wine list I look for categories such as German Rieslings, Italian whites from Friuli or Campania, and offbeat reds from California, which I can afford to drink instead of the famous Cabernet and Pinot names.
How about you?
If you were a cult Cabernet drinker, are you opting for lower-priced, more readily available California Cabernets, or stretching out to explore what Washington, Australia, Chile or Argentina can offer?
If you used to drink classified-growth Bordeaux, are you stepping down to cru bourgeois, or looking elsewhere for comparable wines?
If white Burgundy and California Chardonnays are your thing, are you looking for other, less costly Chardonnays or broadening out to include other kinds of white wine?
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — July 8, 2009 11:24am ET
Mark A Dedow — Clarkston, MI — July 8, 2009 12:37pm ET
Andrew J Grotto — Washington, DC — July 8, 2009 1:01pm ET
Mr Tom A Hughes — Keller, Tx — July 8, 2009 4:30pm ET
Michael Bonanno — July 8, 2009 5:14pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — July 8, 2009 5:30pm ET
Stewart Lancaster — beaver,pa — July 9, 2009 1:12pm ET
Richard Scholtz — Austin, TX — July 9, 2009 3:08pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — July 9, 2009 4:04pm ET
Dave Reuther — Deerfield, Illinois — July 9, 2009 4:43pm ET
Michael Portner — Los Angeles, CA — July 9, 2009 5:32pm ET
Keir Mccartney — League City,TX — July 9, 2009 5:41pm ET
Michael Schulman — Westlake Village, CA — July 9, 2009 6:20pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Bangor, Maine — July 12, 2009 9:14pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions