Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Psst, wanna buy Kalleske? Cheap!
Kalleske is probably the best, and certainly the most recent, example in my experience of the consumer being taken to the cleaners by retailers. If you do a search using Wine Searcher you never find very many retailers listed as dealing in Kalleske wines. What you do find is significant price differences. The most reasonable is Cork and Bottle - sold out of the not yet released 2003 shiraz at $45USD/btl. Old Town Wine Co will give you a discount of 1 cent from $100USD for the same wine (presale). And Cripes, I mean, Grapes The Wine Company - "founded in the fall of 1997 with the intention of making the world´s greatest wines more accessible" wants $125USD/btl for the 2003 Kalleske shiraz. Even with the current exchange rates these prices make the $80AUD starting prices on Wickman's Fine Wine Auctions seem reasonable. Additionally you also have to weigh these outrageous USD prices against the simple fact that there is just so much excellent Aussie wine available. Then there is the overwhelming amount of local stuff, and all that French, Italian, German, etc., etc. The supply never really ends here in the USA. The fortunate thing for the retailers who do sell at these high prices is that, especially on the East Coast, the market is a bottomless pit for low production, high scoring wines. They can charge almost anything and someone will pay it.

Whether the folks who buy these wines have a history of buying Aussie wines, whether they will drink the wine, and whether they will then actually talk about it is another matter. Check out Ric Einstein's note about Hill of Grace on his Drops 'n Dregs page at Torb Wine. Ric found very few tasting notes on HoG, most were from the USA, and most from first time drinkers. Its probably reasonable to argue that we may never get a real idea of how some of these new low production wines from Australia, like Kalleske, age simply because they have gone into the cellars of people who are collecting these wines based on points and not for what they represent. Hopefully the winery, or some of the more affluent serious Aussie shiraz drinkers, are laying a good number aside so that they can be assessed in 10, 20, 30, 40 years!

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