If it is true that there ain’t no 50 cent Ferrari but there is a really good Honda (see last week’s blog on that topic) then does it also mean that there is a really good, yet expensive, Honda out there too? Or in wine terms: is there a producer of great inexpensive wine that also makes a great and expensive wine … and is that wine really worth it?
To take the analogy further … Honda makes the NSX Supercar. Runs less than 200K and fairs pretty well against the entry level McLaren, Ferrari, or Lamborghini ‘supercars’ but starts to lose value and quality as the Lambo, McLaren, and Ferrari outpace it in the higher and far more expensive models. Is that the same with wine?
Margarita Vineyard Cabernet 2013
Brea Wine Co.
I put three Cabernet Sauvignons on the track together, lined them up, and served them all blind. One was the ‘high end’ offering from Brea and then two ‘base model’ bottles from Justin and Daou. All three are from Paso Robles and all three come in around $25. They were as equal as I could make ‘em. All three of the wines are good quality but the Brea really had it from the get go and everyone who tried the flight unanimously agreed that it was the clear winner … more intricately layered, deeper levels of complexity, and, well, just more enjoyable. The Daou, placing third, was cloyingly fruity and didn’t have much to go on but a whole ton of oak whereas the Justin was a touch sweet with that same overabundance of oak. Both of the other two wines seemed clunky or missing vital parts to them in comparison to the Brea which just trounced the others.
Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Brea Wine Co.
Both the Justin and the Daou are high end wineries playing in the lower end field for these wines. Their two wines here are meant as door openers … that is to say that they want you to try these wines and then move on to their spendier wines. While these wines are good they’re just not great wine (Random fact: we sell about three times more Daou than the other two combined … it’s very popular). The Brea however is excellent wine but it was designed and made to be excellent: single vineyard source, selection of the best fruit from that vineyard, extreme quality winemaker and incredible technique. The other two wineries just couldn’t stand up to it if they wanted to.
Daou Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Brea Wine Co.
So, yeah … buying the ‘top end’ wine from a lower shelf producer can yield a better wine. Just like spending 170K on an Honda NSX gets you on par or slightly better than the 200K Ferrari Portofino … just be careful though this isn’t always the case. It’s not always better to go with the cheaper producer playing in the higher end world ... In Honda’s case it took them more than 25 years to get the NSX to a place where people actually wanted to buy it and the same is true for many wines. Lots and lots and lots of lower shelf wineries fancy themselves playing in big luxury game. Most of them don’t have the quality minded tendencies to do it but when the right winery does get it right - like the Brea, man, it’s really something!