Wines Then and Now: Part 1

Part 1 of 3: where wine prices are now and how to shop savvy





Let’s take a look at some pricing, historical and current and see where prices have gone, and where they might go, helping to identify some smart buys from the region. Let’s begin with those two blue chips. I’ve listed the price for each wine on release, the price those wines are currently trading for and the price of the latest release.

1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d'Alba $90 Now $190 The 2008 is $210
1996 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino $185 Now $550 The 2005 is $440

As you can see, both of these wines have experienced roughly a doubling of price over the span of a decade, and while a good portion of the price increases can be attributed to the relative strengths of the Euro and the Dollar, the bottom line is that I’m no longer comfortable buying these wines. They have priced themselves out of my world. It’s also tough to justify paying more or about the same for a current release wine as one might pay for something with a decade of age on it, adding further weight to my decision to just say no to these wines, as painful as that has been.

One point worth noting: if all of these price increases were due to currency rate fluctuations, we might expect to see more consistency across the board for wines from Piedmont. Clearly that is not the case, and some producers are simply enjoying an explosion of demand. Here are some additional examples to help illustrate the point.



1999 Vietti Barolo Brunate $65 now $100. The  2008 is $125
1999 Vietti Barolo Rocche $70 now $135. The  2008 is $130
1999 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo $75 now $120 The 2008 is $100
1999 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste $75 Now $180 The 2008 is $120
1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra $75 now $90 The 2008 is $100
1999 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc $75 now $90  The 2008 is $100
1999 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia $80 now $200 The 2008 is $140
1999 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis $100 Now $ 165 The 2008 is $150
1999 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato $60 now $125 2008 $115

With an average increase in price somewhere around 30 percent, basically the rate of inflation, there is clearly something else at play with the jump in prices the Monfortino and the Giacosa have experienced, and that is most simply explained by demand. Interestingly Conterno’s Cascina Francia has only jumped about 50 percent over the past decade, so that wine remains a bargain, even if I no longer feel comfortable buying it. In fact, as you can see, all of these wines are now at, or across my threshold of pain, leading to some soul-searching and painful decisions.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: RUS
    119003 269

    95% of wine drinkers don't drink at $50+ bottle of wine from one year to the next.

    Jan 19, 2013 at 6:34 PM


  • Snooth User: jaybird75
    100123 98

    Right. The current "bargain" prices at $75-$90 are out of my range.
    SIde note - Since my first experience with it, i've always considered Barbaresco more comparable to Burgundy than Barolo.

    Jan 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM


  • Snooth User: Ken Arkell
    113629 13

    While not a purchaser of $100 wines as a general rule, I think GDP's analysis is sound. Whatever the reason for the steep rise in prices in $100+ wine from Barolo country, the rise in price will pull up less expensive wines at each price point. Interesting that if a wine I would have purchased for $10 would move to $15 in one year, I would still buy it if I liked it, but a wine that moved from $100 to $150 over TEN years would price it way outside of my comfort level. Both wines would increase by the same percentage, but for me the key is the ceiling (which shifts depending on whether its a Tuesday night wine or a once a year great occasion wine) and not as much the movement within that $100 ceiling. Thanks for this article it made me think about what I want out of a wine today. At this point, my interest in $100 wines is not nearly as important as finding interesting wines that reflect the people and place where they are made. My hope is to continue to find these wines at considerably less than the $100 or more price point. My goal is to sip and imagine this vineyard, this winemaker, this village.

    Jan 21, 2013 at 11:27 AM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 150

    I don't buy $100 wines. I buy from $8 on a lark, to $50-70. I have noted the wines in the $20 and up levels are trying to jump up in price in the last year or so. I look at 2007s and 2008s I bought a few years ago and compare them to pricing for 2009s and 2010, and see definite price creep. Part of it is smaller harvests here in CA, but I think producers are trying to increase their profit margins. Which of course is their right under capitalism, but it is also our right to look for alternatives.

    Jan 23, 2013 at 5:46 PM


  • Snooth User: Ken Arkell
    113629 13

    In British Columbia, due to government taxes, we have the 2nd highest tax system for wine known to man. Combine that with a world economy that ground to a halt in the last four years, you would expect that wine makers would be pricing their wines to match the times. Unfortunately my perception is that your experience with price creep has only slowed and not stopped in BC. So finding wines that are approachable in price and have been created for cellaring has become almost a fantasy. There is a romance of cellaring that seems to have gone from the wine experience unless one has a wine budget that is available to "everyman" only as a fantasy. However, it is interesting to search out wines from other parts of the world to enjoy at reasonable cost. It is even more interesting to to experience these wines where they were created.

    Jan 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 150

    Ken, as a practical matter what is to stop a BC resident from driving over to the nearest Costco in Washington and buying a few cases of wine and bringing it back as part of their next camping trip in Washington? Not saying it is legal to do so.

    Jan 25, 2013 at 12:34 PM


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    Aug 03, 2013 at 12:01 AM


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    Aug 03, 2013 at 1:32 AM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 150

    Ken, even cheap wines benefit from cellaring -- almost any cab should wait at least 4 years from harvest... a good example is Martini Sonoma cab, $11 at Costco, or Coppola Rosso - often on sale for $8.

    Aug 03, 2013 at 4:29 AM


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    1331306 37

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    1341059 34

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  • Pricing in SA is a lot different from yours however the fluctuation of prices, weather rand or dollar etc doesn't change.

    Sep 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM


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    Sep 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM


  • Some of the best wines I have tasted before happens to been some of the more inexpensive ones, you don't necessarily have to break the bank for an excellent glass of wine, you just have to look for it first.

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    1368891 18

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