This weekend I bought some wine. That of course is nothing new. But it was the total purchase price that opened even my eyes. Not a penny more than $243 for two cases of wine. Not two bottles. Not a six-pack. Two full cases, of full bottles.
Sure there are tons of values out there and I’ve usually got a few bottles of "house wine" sitting in a bin. But to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I spent an average of $10 a bottle for two cases of wine.
As I was browsing the aisles of In Good Taste, in New Paltz, N.Y., there were plenty of things to choose from. But then I saw some Teddy Hall Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2005 for $8 a bottle (usually $12) and some Rudera Syrah Stellenbosch 2004 for just $14 a bottle (usually $27). Both wines are tasty examples of what South Africa does best, and until just recently both made by the same winemaker (Teddy Hall). Since the prices were too good to be true, I had to ask.
“Is this right?”
“Closeout,” said Ken, the store’s main wine guy with a half-wink.
A closeout is when for whatever reason, a distributor stops handling a particular brand, so they dump whatever remaining stock they have, often at ridiculously low prices. It’s not unlike when you’re in high school and the girl you’ve always had a crush on has a messy break up with her jerky boyfriend in the middle of a party: "Now I’ve got a chance!” you say to yourself.
No, you’re not likely to find DRC or Guigal at closeout prices. But a smart retailer is always on the lookout for a decent deal. And when a distributor who no longer has any long-term financial motivation to work on behalf of a brand suddenly decides to take the short and easy way out of it, well, it’s one time when the three-tier distribution system actually has a good side.
When I first reviewed the Rudera Syrah, it was beefy and chunky around the edges and needed some time to come together. Now it’s a polished, smooth, tasty drink. I’m already planning out some springtime grilling to match with it.
As for the Chenin, it’s an uncomplicated little wine that always hits the spot. No, it’s not meant to age, but it’s under screw cap, and good Chenin Blanc doesn’t fall apart quickly. And besides, at $8, how can you go wrong?
"Closeout" … music to my ears.