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A wine spectator's dilemma follow-up

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Recently I wrote about one of the issues I have with many of the major wine publications: By the time a wine is reviewed, it is no longer available. Often the next vintage is already out. The example I gave was Amavi’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. This wine received a 92 point rating in the June 30th edition of Wine Spectator but by the first week of July, the 2006 Cabernet was on the shelf. See the full write-up here.

While I have often observed that wines are gone by the time their ratings are published, in this case, it was a variation on this theme. Following my post, I received an e-mail from Eric McKibben, General Manager/ Partner at Amavi Cellars. McKibben said the release of the 2006 Cabernet was moved forward about a month due to the increased sales of the 2005 following the high Wine Spectator rating. Specifically, he said:

The reason the 2006 is out is that the 2005 sold out rapidly after that rating came out. We had giant orders from our East Coast distributors who read the rating online before we even knew about it. Within a week and a half, all our stock for our distributors nationwide was gone. We were about halfway through the vintage and anticipated running out by the end of August, and instead were out by mid-May. We then sold out of our tasting room stock within a week after that as orders poured in for direct to consumer shipments nationwide. So our Seattle distributors twisted our arms for the 2006, and we gave it to them about a month before we really wanted to release it.

So in this case, the 2005 Cabernet was available briefly after the rating, but due to the increased demand following the high rating, it quickly sold out and the 2006 was released (NB: The 2006 is every bit as good. Buy it now before you read a great WS review and it's already all gone!).

This brings me to a second issue I have with many of the major wine publications. The issue of ratings and their resulting affect on sales. More on this in a subsequent post.

Thanks again to Eric for passing along this information.

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