The “Top 100 Wines” Impact

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Russ Bebbe over at the Wine Hiker Blog has done a preliminary assessment of the effect on a wine’s aftermarket price when it hits the Top Ten of the Wine Spectator Top 100 list.

The Top 100 came out Monday. What was unique about the list is that the #1 wine was relatively inexpensive Ar around $69 (2001 Casanova Di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova).

Russ has some interesting comments to make and his run down of current pricing two days out might surprise.

On this same issue, I had a conversation with a small specialty retailer yesterday. It turned out he had a couple cases of the wine on Monday. In fact, he had over the past few months sent out three emails to his customers that highlighted the wine. The announcement of the top 100 Wine Spectator Wines happened early Monday morning East Coast time.

When the retailer arrived in his store here on the West Coast around 10am he had over 100 messages on his answering machine and his website had crashed due to the number of folks that had been ordering the wine (he didn’t have a system on his website that tracked inventory).

According to the retailer, the messages on his answering machine offered just about everything short of sexual favors in exchange for the #1 wine. He has had the #1 wine in stock when the list was announced for the past few years but never received this kind of response. He suspects the $69.00 price tag had something to do with it. He also noted that at the time this year’s list was announced, they importer still had over 100 bottles in stock.

The building Franchise that is The Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List is nothing less than a benchmark and a powerhouse in the retail wine sector.

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9 Responses

  1. winehiker - November 22, 2006

    Tom, it pleases me to have sparked a post and an anecdote here from ya. You nailed it down nicely.
    Nice way, too, to start a weekend for which being thankful is key. Thankfully I didn’t have to offer any sexual favors!
    Meanwhile, it appears there are currently 10 bottles of the presumably luscious 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova available on winebid for (only) $120 bid, $125 ask, from 3 separate sellers, ending Sunday. If the name is any indication, I’m sure the wine is indeed a mouthful.

  2. David - November 23, 2006

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Terry Hughes - November 24, 2006

    If my mother were still around she’d say, “And if Wine Spectator told you to jump out a window, would YOU jump out a window?”
    It sounds less like a marketing franchise than a cult.

  4. Dr. Debs - November 24, 2006

    Wow. The story about the answering machine and server crash says it all. It’s the trophy wine mentality, I suppose. Like you, I couldn’t resist writing about the list. But now I’m going to have to go amend my story.

  5. Tish - November 24, 2006

    The real trick to the Top 100 is the way WS editors pretend to toss their sacred 100-point scale to the wine and pick the most “exciting” wines of the year. What this really does is simply allow them to create this annual sideshow in which they manage to exert fresh power and manipulation over an already fawning retail market. It’s all a big publicity stunt for them, and everyone in the Top 100 and all the retailers who still have T-100 wines to sale play right along. Meanwhile, while the magazine claims to have tapped the most “exciting” wines of the year, I ask: do the write-ups they offer for each wine really strike any real wine lover as thrilling? This is simply the WS machine at its peak. Yawn.

  6. tom - November 24, 2006

    It’s always going to be subjective, the list. That’s a given.
    And the retailers…well, they can’t help themselves in and in a sense, given the demand of the buying public it’s hard to blame the retailers.
    I’ll give you the point about the write ups though. I’d love to have seen much more extensive and additional write ups for each wine. I mean, think about it. These are the top 100 most exciting wines released from among…god….how many…thousands. There is always an interesting story behind each wine whether it’s in the winemaking, the people, the marketing, the niche, the vineyard, the experience of drinking it, etc, etc. You could devote 100 pages to these wines and create one hell of an issue.

  7. Dr. Debs - November 26, 2006

    I couldn’t agree more, both Tom and Tish, about the pallid write-ups for what are ostensibly knock-em sock-em wines. There is something clinical about the write ups, for sure. And Tom, you write that mag of extensive write ups for the 100 best of the year, I’ll buy it!

  8. Tish - November 27, 2006

    That magazine already exists: Wine & Spirits’ “Top 100 Wineries” issue features extensive profiles of great wines and the people and places behind them. And by not ranking them #1 thru #100, the overall issue has a much more democratic feel (as opposed to autocratic). Even better is W&S’s “Best in the world of Wine” issue (Fall 2006); plenty of thoughful, real-world wine criticism, presented with unusual angles and not a rating in sight.

  9. Dr. Debs - November 27, 2006

    I agree, Tish, that W&S does a much better job on the winery profiles with reviews of the wine. But I also think they could do more in the reviews to talk about the wine itself–though happily their writing is not pallid, and therefore more evocative of the wines that they drink. I’d be interested to know how their tasting practice differs from WS. Have to go look at my recent issues to check.

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