Ever apprehend of Rubus winery? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Rubus is a characterization created aftermost year by Winer-based importer-distributor Fran Kysela to advertise surplus wine he’d been able to buy from contacts in California. Beneath the new label, he sells a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon for $20, additional a Russian River chardonnay and a Lodi zinfandel for about $13.
“Given the economy, the befalling existed to antecedent balance wine that can no best be awash at $50 to $150 a bottle,” Kysela told me in an e-mail. “This balance will not abide forever, but is a acceptable ancient befalling for the consumer.”
Cameron Hughes is addition name that has been axis up on wine labels, aboriginal at Costco and added at added retail stores. Hughes is a agent who buys surplus wine from high-end wineries and sells them beneath his name at a abrupt discount. Although the wineries about are not affairs off their best juice, these bottles can be actual acceptable ethics for the price.
Steve Long, freeholder of Out of Site Wines in Vienna, calls them “stealth labels” and says they action hasty value. “They accept a non-disclosure agreement, but this is apparently a $75 cabernet,” Long says of the Rubus $20 offering.
Kysela, Hughes and others are afterward the age-old attitude of the negociant, who buys wines from growers and bottles them beneath a abode label. We’ve appear to accessory affection with estate-produced rather than negociant wines, but today’s abridgement is arduous that thinking.
If you are accommodating to absorb $20 or added on a canteen of wine, now is an agitative time to appointment your specialty wine retailer. Through claimed access with distributors, importers and winemakers, food can chase out deals created by the poor abridgement as balance accumulation and depressed appeal actualize bottomward burden on prices.
Wines that accept been awash primarily or alone to restaurants are sometimes assuming up at retail as restaurants cut aback on their purchases. Cakebread’s cabernets and the high-end chardonnays from Chateau Montelena and Calera are examples of that trend. Some attenuate wines already awash primarily via commitment lists – Silver Oak, Turley and Pax, for archetype – now are added broadly available.
Back Paul Tilch of Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington tasted the Cameron Hughes Lot 115 Chardonnay from Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, he anticipation the wine bore “an awesome familiarity” to a accepted bottling from Sonoma Cutrer that he sells for several dollars more. With non-disclosure agreements, such identifications ability depend on the intuition of the banker and a nod or flash from a sales rep.
“Wineries accept had to get creative, assignment a little harder and acclimatize margins, aloof like everybody else,” Tilch says. “Adapting to the bazaar is annihilation new.”
Some retailers accept been able to booty advantage of the abridgement to actualize their own labels. Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages in the District said he will anon be affairs a cabernet sauvignon custom-blended for the abundance by Napa vintner Sean Larkin from surplus fruit. Larkin’s wines about advertise for $60, but the abundance alloy – a bald 50 cases – will retail for $30.
Bernstein said the apathetic abridgement has helped accumulate prices abiding on alien wines admitting barter amount fluctuations. He acicular to albino and German Riesling as two categories area arrangement hunters should advance this anniversary season.
“Many wines are undervalued for their quality,” Bernstein says. “The superb 2009 best of German Riesling is aloof hitting the market, and prices accept remained actual stable.”
So appointment a specialty wine banker with an accessible apperception for alien labels and abrupt bargains. And back those retailers say, “This tastes aloof like . . .,” they ability be on to something.
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