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Close But No Levy & McClellan Yet

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jan 18, 2007 5:22pm ET

I had hoped to taste the first Levy & McClellan Napa Valley Cabernet today, and I came very close. But when Martha McClellan arrived in my office in Napa this morning, she was missing one thing—the 2004 barrel sample I wished to try.

The wine didn't make it, because it had just been racked this week, she explained. McClellan and her husband-partner Bob Levy decided it wasn't ready to be shown.

When wine is racked, it's moved from one container to another, usually barrel to barrel, or barrel to tank, before it's bottled. The process clarifies it. Unracked wines are usually cloudy and contain sediment from the bottom of the barrel, and racking unsettles the wine, masking its true character.

The wine, a blend of 92 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, will be bottled soon. Meaning I won't be able to taste it for at least two months—wine needs to 'rest' for a period after it's bottled so that it can come together.

Many of you have asked me about this wine since I wrote about it earlier this year, and while I can’t say what it tastes like, I can share a few thoughts.

It's the most controversial new wine to come from California this year, thanks to its $350 a bottle price tag—a sum that puts it behind Screaming Eagle, at $500, yet equal to Harlan. It’s an audacious move on behalf of Levy & McClellan.

Those interested in buying the wine can try to order it on Levy & McClellan's website. While the wine may be sold out already, with many people seeking 12-bottle cases and larger format bottles, the couple is hoping to make three-bottle cases available to about 1,200 people. So far, more than 700 people have signed up to buy the wine, which must be paid for in advance.

Of course the wine is expensive, some might say outrageously so. It’s out of my league, and frankly, even the owners couldn't afford to buy their wine, or even drink it on a regular basis.

That said, Levy and McClellan are both stellar winemakers. Levy is the winemaker for Harlan and Bond; McClellan is winemaker for Sloan and, as of 2006, winemaker for Blankiet as well. The couple has mortgaged their home in St. Helena to finance their dream venture, and it’s unclear whether it will ever turn a profit.

Planted in 1999, the vineyard produced enough grapes to make wine in 2002 and 2003, yet the owners didn’t think the wine met their standard of being at least as good as Harlan and Sloan. They're counting on '04 to make a successful debut.

“It’s a hard thing,” McClellan said of their business. “We want to give [our] customers the quality level that we’re accustomed to [with Harlan and Sloan]. “We live in a modest house and we’re doing [this business] with laptops on the dining room table.”

Living up to the Harlan or Sloan standards comes at a price—small crops, at two tons per acre, with extreme selection in the vineyard and from the barreled wines.

I asked McClellan if the $350 price is intended to maximize their profits and perhaps minimize those who will flip the wines at auction. It’s easy to image this wine selling for two or three times more in the auction market.

“We’re charging what we think the wines is worth,” McClellan said. “People do with the wine what they want to [and flipping] is not something we can do anything about [and it’s] not something we worry about.”

She compares making a wine like this to creating a piece of art; it will appeal to some, yet be beyond the means of most.

The steep price tag has drawn the ire of at least one potential customer who wrote Levy & McClellan, complaining, in effect, “How dare you,” said McClellan. “We knew it was a risk [and we] knew it would cause a reaction.”

Others, she adds, are both supportive and understanding. “They’ve said ‘good luck, we’re excited for you guys.’”

This year’s first big conversation piece will be released next year.

Brent L Pierce
St. Helena, CA —  January 18, 2007 8:10pm ET
I can't wait to try this wine. I'm sorry the timing was off as far as the racking is concerned for you to taste it. Best that it is tasted at optimum condition (not after racking) at this young stage, however; and who knows better than Martha and Bob? No one.
Glenn S Lucash
January 18, 2007 8:11pm ET
Sounds like Bordeaux 05 California style. I wonder what will happen if RP and JL rate this wine 92? An unproven wine at 350 per....please! I guess the speculators and label drinkers will have some fun. The real wine lovers will take another pass at the HYPE.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  January 18, 2007 8:36pm ET
"Audacious" is the perfect word to describe the offering price. I was apparently one of the "fortunate" 1,200 that was offered either a single bottle or 3-pack. I fretted over buying a bottle, knowing that it hadn't been rated yet.

It seems awfully suspicious to me that the promised sample was not forthcoming. How convenient it was to have racked the wine the same week as you were going to taste it! I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for not at least buying a bottle, but I can then drown my sorrows in my entire allocation of 2003 Lewis Cab, Syrah & Merlot that I obtained for the same price a while back.
La Quinta, CA —  January 18, 2007 8:58pm ET
I ordered 2 3-packs just last week! Robert Parker gave the wine 95-97 points out of barrel, for good or ill. I know the wine won't be here until a year from April(a la Harlan) but I can't imagine this wine being anything but incredible! Keep up the good work Bob and Martha! Dustin.
Tom Breneman
eau claire, WI —  January 18, 2007 9:27pm ET
"some might say outrageously so" Let me be the first to post, "outrageously so". But being a true believer in the market, let the ding dongs go after this stuff, I would just ask the WS to continue to give some balance to cover the other hard working wine makers that are doing a great job, producing great wine year after year, and are efficient enough to offer their products at a price the rest of us can enjoy. That's where the loyalty of the majority of wine drinkers is, and I would say the majority of your subscribers.
William J Beitz Jr
Brighton, MI USA —  January 18, 2007 9:56pm ET
I can afford to drink whatever I please, and with over 2000 bottles in my cellar including the likes of Caymus SS, Dalla Valle, Hundred Acre, Hartwell, Spottswoode, Insignia, Silver Oak, Shafer Hillside, Buccella and Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer/Kalon to name a few at about one third the price, I'll PASS. I am sick and tired of these so called cult cab's hitting the market at these ridiculous prices. Let the want-to-be's buy this unproven wine at this over-inflated price. The BEST wines in my cellar are anything with a Lewis "L" on the label and a Cabernet still unknown to the wine world called Teachworth from Diamond Mountain, both well under $100, but worth much more.
John Kmiecik
Chicago, IL —  January 18, 2007 10:09pm ET
What is the website anyway??
Don R Wagner
Illinois —  January 18, 2007 10:52pm ET
Totv is right...Bob also rated the 05 vintage even higher and I believe he said something to the effect of "candidate for wine of the vintage" for the 05 --Ouch!!!! Oh well, I'll just go and drink my Scarecrow now!
Steve Calbi
South Barringnton, IL —  January 18, 2007 10:59pm ET
James, I was under the impression from my years in the Bay Area that superstar winemakers like Bob and Martha command very impressive fees from the likes of Harlan, Sloan and others with whom they've contracted. How does one reconcile what must easily be several hundred thousand in fees annually between the two winemakers with having to mortgage their modest home to finance their new venture?
Everett Love
January 19, 2007 1:06am ET
As a collector, I asked for 2 three pacs, as this will be the beginning of something special and something rare with only 1200 three pacs produced. I think a lot of people feel entitled, in that they are use to getting great wines at bargin prices here in California, but then spend $500per on 10,000 case 2005 Bordeaux futures or old vintage Burgundy's.If budget constraints are an issue, I totally agree that comparable wines can be had for less. But for those who have been fortunate enough to drink a Sloan or Harlan know that this will be about as good as it gets for Cali cabernet.In closing, the frenzy in the secondary market for Scarecrow ($500+ per bottle) indicates that there is a segment of the market excited and willing to pay for the next great wine from Cali.
David A Zajac
January 19, 2007 8:34am ET
Can't help but add my 2 cents, as I am on their mailing list and signed up over a year ago. I anxiously awaited the release, believing the quality would be spectacular, which I am sure it is, even when I opened the mailing and saw the outrageous price, I still debated what to do, I don't like spending that kind of money on a single bottle and I want to buy to drink, not flip. I have recently decided to drop Harlan as its price was too high, and I have a feeling I will be dropping Sloan too as I would bet their release price is going to increase to, say maybe $350/bottle. But yet I agonized...and drank a bottle of the 2004 Rivers-Marie Cabernet (fantastic, as are their pinot's) and said "Why?". That is a $50 wine that is worth it, its sensational and I can have 7 for the price of one. I will pass on Levy & McClellan and let the label chasers and millionaires have it - even if I could flip it in a year and make money on it.
John Poggemeyer
Cleveland, OH —  January 19, 2007 8:44am ET
So many people complain about paying that money for a wine that is not yet proved; there is a reason that they call it speculation. You are riding on the reputation of the winemakers, and their history. Collectors may get lucky (get a bottle of Sloan or Scarecrow prior to the secondary market) and make a killing. Others may buy in to a winery that doesn't hit it big and they take the hit. If you are going to complain about prices, buy wine you like the taste of, and don't worry about the re-sell price. If you are worried about flipping, then you have to be willing to take the risk. James may find a streak of TCA in the Levy and McLellan after you buy it!
Joshua Masur
Redwood City, CA —  January 19, 2007 9:28am ET
I also got the offer in the mail a week or two ago. And as with the other "investment-grade" wines I've been offered, I declined to participate.

Maybe I'll regret this in the future, but for the time being, I don't buy wine as an investment, even if it turns out (as with my bottles of Alban Reva) that I have purchased bottles that would qualify. I buy wines that I want to and intend to drink -- whether now or in the far-off future -- or to give to friends and colleagues.

That said, it seems like the real issue is what price the market will set for the wine. If by the end of 2008, the auction market has set the price around $500, pricing the wine at $350 in futures seems appropriate. I see no reason why the winemakers, who have taken the primary risk, shouldn't attempt to capture the benefit of that risk by capturing more of the initial value. Who better -- the buyers on speculation? Nor do I see any reason why they shouldn't attempt to share that risk by bringing in additional investors -- which, at the end of the day, is what a futures offer effectively does.

So the economic rationalist in me says more power to them, even while the oenophile in me sighs with regret.
Massimo Marinucci
Pound Ridge, NY —  January 19, 2007 11:19am ET
New wine, small production, California=$350 per bottle. I don't care how good it is and I think the price is stupid and everyone buying it is a sucker. Then, if it gets 100 points you're all going to pat yourself on the back and....flip it at auction. Good luck!
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  January 19, 2007 11:37am ET
In case anyone cares to reflect on pricing for a moment, I would like to direct your attention to the IPO market from 1998 - 2000. There's was a whole LOT of free press to be had when a stock entered the market and doubled in the first day. This inevitably drew other investors to the stock and resulted in a lot of secondary market participation within that stock. Of course, the underwriters and original shareholders would inevitably lament that they had "left money on the table." Thus began attempts to "fairly" price these IPO's (mostly dot.coms) so as to extract maximum value from the offering. What happened? Many stocks came to market and traded lower than the offering price, oftentimes on the FIRST day. It's called a "broken IPO". What I think we're going to see here with L&M is a "broken IPO" scenario. They're extracting the full value up front, without any proven track record with respect to the vineyard(s), and asking the consumer to entirely shoulder the risk in the after-market. Dot.coms made "bold" moves that were later recharacterized as "stupid."

Does anyone else find it ironic that the dot.com IPO craze began and died less than 50 miles away from where this Cali cult Cab craze has entered full swing?
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  January 19, 2007 12:01pm ET
One other thing while I'm thinking about it.... It doesn't have to do with pricing so much as it has to do with absurd minimum purchase requirements, which I find equally offensive. Take for example WH Smith. I was purchasing directly from the Smiths for the 2002 - 2004 vintages, even though they had a six bottle minimum order with each offering. Starting with the 2004 offering, though, they decided they were going to force everyone to buy some of their Piedra Hill Cab if they wanted to get in on the Pinot Noir action. I was okay with one bottle, although the practice smacks of being illegal (referring to Intel antitrust violation for forcing resellers to purchase a certain amount of old chips in order to get their hands on new chips). But with the 2005 offering they went wacky. 12-bottle minimum order, and they picked out the first 12 bottles, including a bunch of their Cabs (which I don't care for) and their lower-quality Sonoma Coast PN!
It ticked me off, so I found a retailer selling the 2005 Maritime PN (which is all I ever wanted) and picked up a couple of bottles from them. About 2 months later I get a second allocation letter from the Smiths that recognized I hadn't purchased my allocation yet and that they were now offering a 6-pack of whatever wines *I* wanted. It's admirable that they realized they made a mistake, but for me it was a case of "too little, too late."

I write this because I'm hoping other vintners out there take note and don't go down the same bad path as Bill & Joan Smith. Don't get me wrong; they're very nice people. They just made a severe strategic mistake from which they may take years to recover, if ever.
Kirk R Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  January 19, 2007 12:50pm ET
Massimo has a point...but these wines are becoming the 1st Growths of California. Just like the Latours and the Lafites they will always get their $ if they keep the high quality. There will reach a point where buyers will cease to be able to "flip" cult wines. When that happens I hope the speculators are ready to drink their expensive wines or take a loss in profit. Wine is meant to be consumed, if you are buying it for any other reason you deserve to get burnt from time to time, and eventually it will happen.
Tim Sylvester
Santa Monica, CA —  January 19, 2007 1:20pm ET
Like many posters I tossed my "invitation," which was quite elegant nad personalized. I can buy a lot of fine wine with the $350 I saved on the LM, regardless of how good it may be. Note that even the Pride Mountain Reserve Cab, which has garnered many top scores, sells for about a third of the cost of this yet to be released offering. James, I also wondered why these folks aren't at least modestly well off, given their backgrounds. Does all of the profit at Harlan and Sloan go to Bill Harlan? Seems unfair, to say the least.
David A Zajac
January 19, 2007 1:32pm ET
Amen Troy, I have been complaining directly to whomever will listen at wineries that tell me what I have to purchase, after all, they need me more than I need them. This policy smacks of arrogance, just as pricing a new wine at $350/bottle on release. I don't blame them, somebody will buy it and probably all will be sold long before it ever is actually released, but I would think as a winemaker that you would actually want people to drink your wines and not trade them like a stock. From the business side, if they can sell it for $500/bottle, more power to them, unfortunately, it just won't be to me.
Paul Manchester
Santa Cruz, CA —  January 19, 2007 2:19pm ET
In my opinion here's the truth about it. If people didn't pay these extremely high prices for these wines, they couldn't charge that much. The fact there are so many people out there that CAN afford it, drives the price up. Who can blame the winemakers?? Which one of you, if you had a product that you produced, had somebody approach you and say "I'll give you $350 each for it" wouldn't do it?? Unfortunately for average people like myself that can't afford more than $35 a bottle, except for those few carefully chosen "special occasion" wines, it makes it virtually impossible for me to ever have the opportunity to enjoy one these "cult" cabs. Unless one of my friends happens to have some and is nice enough to share it with me it just won't happen.Also, Mr. Beitz, what are you thinking??!!! You just revealed to millions of eager wine seekers the now "not-so-secret" hidden gem of Teachworth. Unless maybe you have stock in them and you're looking to increase the value.
Scott Boles
San Diego —  January 19, 2007 2:47pm ET
I am on their list. I too was shocked by the price. I am sure it is fantastic juice, but I won't be buying any at that price. I wish them the best of luck. I guess my worst case scenario came true. Outrageous 05 Bordeaux prices gave Screaming Eagle and L&M license to jack up their prices to stratospheric levels. I am sure that Sloan and the other CA cults won't be too far behind. As a side note, I applaud Quilceda Creek for a only a modest increase in price (in light of all of their recent good press).
James Laube
Napa, CA —  January 19, 2007 2:58pm ET
Tim, while I'm sure both winemakers are well compensated for their efforts, land and vineyard prices in Napa run $100,000 to $300,000 an acre, and development can cost $10,000 to $15,000 an acre. And that's before a drop of wine is made, so even if if they are well paid, I'm not sure it would cover this kind of investment expense, knowing it might take years to break even.
Robert Caruana Jr
East Islip, NY —  January 19, 2007 4:07pm ET
This is nothing but a classic case of "Supply and Demand" - simple economics at play. If the wine is overpriced for the market, then it will not sell out and the winery will be forced to reduce the price in order to sell it off. However, if the 2004 vintage sells out during the initial offering, I'm sure we will see an increase in price for the 2005 vintage - and rightfully so. You can call it arrogant, outrageous, ridiculous, etc. However, I think that everyone needs to remember that first and foremost, Bob Levy & Martha McClellan are running a business, not a charity or not-for-profit. If anyone of us were a stockholder in this company, we would want the wine sold for as high a price as possible to maximize our return on investment. As the sole stockholders, that is all they are presumably trying to do.

I think that many of us like to romanticize the business of wine and believe that winemakers/owners love wine so much that they would rather price their wine at a point where many people can enjoy it rather than maximizing their return on investment. This may be so with some wineries, but I doubt for most (I would welcome Brian Loring or any other winemakers/owners to comment on this).

If you can afford the wine but believe that it's priced more than it's worth, it is your right not to purchase the wine (or even write a letter if you feel so inclined) and use your hard earned money to support other businesses. However, to bash Bob & Martha for trying to maximize their return on investment is wrong in my opinion. If you wanted to purchase some of the wine when you heard about it, but now can't afford the wine because of its $350 price tag, I can see why you would be upset or disappointed. But don't be mad. I'm sure most of us would love to own Armani suits and Louis Vuitton bags, but you don't expect them to sell their product below market price just so that everyone can afford it do you? So why is this expected of Levy & McClellan?
David A Zajac
January 19, 2007 4:15pm ET
Jim, doing some quick math, assuming L&McC produce 400 cases and sell each bottle at $350/bottle, that is revenue of $1,680,000 - seems to me they could buy an entire vineyard in one year with that kind of return...and please, don't tell me about the cost of barrel's these days. The price is simply indefensible, period.
Jay J Cooke
Ripon CA —  January 19, 2007 5:03pm ET
James,Thanks to your article last year I was able to receive an offering from Levy & McClellan. I am not rich, not an investor & I hope I am not a sucker. I am 69, been a wine lover for over 30 years & have only spent $100 on a single wine once. I liked the Levy & McClellan history & story & decided that before I go I would like to enjoy a really special wine. This wine was my wife's 45th anniversary gift to me. It will be enjoyed, not flipped, regardless of the score it eventually receives. Thanks for the tip James.
David Nerland
Scottsdale —  January 19, 2007 5:23pm ET
While the price tag is very high, all I can say is I'm buying.
David A Zajac
January 19, 2007 6:43pm ET
David, are you buying to drink or in the hopes you can flip it and make a profit? In either case your answer is fine and correct for you, I just wonder if anyone is actually going to ever drink the stuff? Isn't that the point, not to accumulate a bunch of trophies to mount on a shelf? I really hope the people buying it will be drinking it, but does anyone want to bet that the auction houses will be full of these wines in a year for the highest bidder to obtain?
Kirk R Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  January 19, 2007 8:36pm ET
David...you may be right...but wouldn't that be because places like winebid.com can get on the list too??? I agree with Robert from New York. The wine industry is growing, and Levy & McClellan have a history of excellence. Look at the 100 point wines on places like winebid.com. They are all $500 + so why are we really complaining about a $350 price tag. If you don't want it, dont buy it. In 5 years you may be saying to yourself I remember when I could have gotten it for less than $500, and didnt. Look at Bordeaux. Back in 2000 people thought the prices were astronomical, now 7 years later they look like a bargain. Prices go up when demand goes up. I think this is a safe bet wether people plan to drink it or use if to fund their childrens college fund. However it would be my sincere hopes that the majority of people buying these wines buy them to drink & share because that is what is truely great about wine. The experience.
Deryl Robinson
HB, CA —  January 19, 2007 10:09pm ET
From a business standpoint, I think Joshua has it right. What other businessperson would you expect to knowingly sell their product below market? I would suggest that rather than look at fine wine as a commodity or a luxury good (a la Robert Caruana's comments), that you look at it as a piece of fine art. We might all think that someone willing to pay millions for a Van Gogh is crazy, but as long as someone else is willing to pay more, it's not a bad investment. And as long as there isn't another one available, someone will be willing to pay more. I could get angry about it, since I can't afford to have a Van Gogh for my living room, but what purpose would that serve? That's just the way it is. If someone has the disposable cash, what the heck? You just can't appraise such things with an economist's mentality. I do know one thing, if I could get in a time machine and find Van Gogh back in Arles, I would gladly pay him many times what the market in his day would have paid for one of his paintings.Since I now am fortunate enough to have been one of the few who knew in advance of the imminent release of this similar product of immeasurable value, I'm in. Not that I envision being able to afford to drink a $350 bottle of wine, but because I bet it will be worth a lot more later.I do this in spite of the worry that it will encourage the winemakers whose wine I do drink to raise their prices too. But, I charge all I can for my expertise, why shouldn't they?
David Nerland
Scottsdale —  January 19, 2007 11:53pm ET
I purchased this wine to share with family and friends, as I do with all my wine. I do not believe in flipping.
Don R Wagner
Illinois —  January 19, 2007 11:57pm ET
To Jim and all who participated -- a REALLY great blog!!! To JL - thanks for writing about pricing, TCA, "flipping", etc, You remind me of that great "Prof" who made me think outside the box AND stirred my passion! Salute!!!I genuinely commend you for writing about those topics that most others would never touch!
Deryl Robinson
HB, CA —  January 20, 2007 4:33am ET
I am reminded of Wall Street types trying to analyze the real estate market. They just don't get it, because stocks don't have aesthetic value.
Jeffrey Nowak
scottsdale, arizona —  January 20, 2007 7:19pm ET
mr zajac'c quick math point is shortsided, as if $1.6+M will just magically appear in their checkbooks to buy land. but, ok, for fun we'll just pretend the barrels are free. even the greeter at wal-mart has taxes withheld from his paycheck; it's the concept of gross versus net. then ask any sole proprietor about their debit side of the ledger to identify business overhead. i could go on, but i won't.
Claude Pope
Raleigh, NC —  January 20, 2007 9:41pm ET
Great blog y'all. I ordered a three pack and a now-famous "case of one". Assuming that I'm allocated both packs, I'll drink the "case of one", and if it lives up to the hype, then I'll know that I have another jewel in my cellar. If it doesn't, then who knows? Maybe I'll flip it, maybe I'll drink it. Either way, I'll at least have the option. I've lost a lot more on other bone-headed decisions so I'm not loosing any sleep over it, and I'm really enjoying the discussion. You really can learn a lot about people by reading their opinions about this wine. In the end, economics will rule.
David A Zajac
January 21, 2007 8:52am ET
Jeffrey, you completely miss the point, of course I am not referring to overhead! What overhead is there though? The cost of the grapes and a few barrels. These people work for Sloan and Harlan, do you really think they are going out and buying new winemaking equipment for their 400 cases with those kind of connections? Do they need a multi million dollar facility to display their wines in? The answer to all of the above is plainly "NO". This is a garage operation where they have virtually no investment other than their time, period. No, they won't bring home $1.6 M but they will also profit unbelievably from this little venture, and you know what, GOOD FOR THEM. I don't begrudge anyone whatever profit they can make, and if you read my previous blogs on this very topic, I said as much. I am against turning wine into a luxury commodity but like it or not, that is exactly what is happening. Also, for all you speculators (and there is nothing wrong with that, you do it on stocks etc. all the time), you sure better hope JL and RP score it in the upper 90's !
John Wilen
Texas —  January 21, 2007 10:26am ET
2004 Levy and McClellan Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain, Napa, North Coast, California, USA

Wine Advocate #168 (Dec¿2006)Robert Parker(95-97)¿pointsDrink 2006-2026

¿"The debut vintage, the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, will be bottled, without fining or filtration, in January, 2007. An amazing effort, it boasts a deep purple color as well as a gorgeous perfume of scorched earth (reminiscent of a Graves wine from Bordeaux), espresso roast, creme de cassis, licorice, new saddle leather, flowers, and chocolate. This powerful, rich wine cuts a broad swath across the palate, but is neither heavy nor excessive. A beautiful integration of acidity, wood, alcohol, and tannin result in an impressively endowed, fabulously concentrated, compelling Cabernet Sauvignon that should drink reasonably well young, yet age for 15-20 years.

¿This is the debut release from the extraordinarily talented winemakers, Bob and Martha Levy. As one might expect, the wine has the same types of aromas and flavors as the extraordinary Sloan and Harlan Estate Cabernet-based wines. I suspect getting on the mailing list is the only chance readers will have to purchase this gem".
Arnaud Tronche
Chicago —  January 22, 2007 1:53pm ET
"It's a hard thing," McClellan said of their business. "We want to give [our] customers the quality level that we're accustomed to [with Harlan and Sloan]. "We live in a modest house and we're doing [this business] with laptops on the dining room table."Are you trying to make us cry? I'd like to see how much they invested to do that wine and how much money they are going to make out of it...As speculation on wine is becoming more and more trendy (and lucrative) this is what happen. Collectors are buying this kind of wine. This would have never happened 20 years ago: nobody would have charged $350 for their FIRST bottle of wine (yeah yeah I know the were the winemakers of X and Y and Z before but nonetheless).
David A Zajac
January 22, 2007 4:06pm ET
An update, just received my Sloan allocation, priced at $245/bottle - sheds even more light on the decision to charge $350 for their wine. I guess if somebody buys it, more power to them, but I still look at all the great winemakers and wines that are for sale at relatively modest prices (Marcassin pinots under $100, Schrader cabs @ $75, Alban syrah's at $75, Sine Qua Non syrah's and grenache for about $100, even Jean Phillips selling Screaming Eagle for most of her ownership for roughly $150 or so - these all sell for much more the day the purchaser obtains the wines, but they do it for those of us not flipping) and I just don't get it. Why not just send them to auction and forget the mailing list?
La Quinta, CA —  January 23, 2007 2:05pm ET
David, we get the point....don't buy it then! I'll give you my tasting notes when I receive the wine in a year. All of us are not going to flip it. Just get over it.
David A Zajac
January 23, 2007 3:46pm ET
Dustin, I am over it, there are plenty of wines I won't have the opportunity to taste and that is ok. I hope its worth it and it gets a 100 from James and RP. Enjoy!
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  January 24, 2007 7:48pm ET
William & Paul, I know this is off-topic, but if you happen to read this can you tell me which of the Teachworth Cabs you personally prefer and why? I'll probably buy all three, but have an opportunity to start with either the Manzanita or Estate.
John Stickler
nyack ny —  March 5, 2007 2:01pm ET
jamesany update on the levy-mcclellan situation, have you had a taste yet, of course its all too late my money's in
James Laube
Napa, CA —  March 5, 2007 2:14pm ET
John, haven't tried it yet but will let you know if and when I do.
Rob Freelen
SF, CA —  January 25, 2008 5:08pm ET
James, I'm curious to hear any additional thoughts you have on the 2004 or 2005 L&Ms. Any additional insights to share?

Also, a BIG thank you to Robert Caruana Jr and others for their similar posts. Getting angry about free market economics is silly. There are 2 solutions: (1) Don't buy the wines, or (2) Cowboy-up, save your money and splurge only on the wines you love just like the rest of us do.-Rob

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