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grand crusIn France the best parcels within vineyards (or perhaps the ones with the best reputation) are known as Grand Crus, and you pay top dollar to get your hands on a bottle of wine made from those grapes. In the U.S. there are well-known vineyards and producers who make expensive wine but we haven’t gotten so granular that we market wines based on parcels or blocks within vineyards.

But Steve Heimoff, who is dialed into California and Oregon wines, predicts its coming soon.

“The wine grape vineyard market continues to operate in a universe of its own,” says an expert in land prices in yesterday’s Napa Valley Register, referring to a phenomenon known as “the pedigree of the parcel,” in which the “pedigree” is conferred as much by subjective factors as objective ones—and perhaps even more so.

Once a vineyard has been prized so astronomically, there’s only one direction to go: To find little pieces within the vineyard that can be priced even more astronomically. This is the basic duty of capitalism: to test what the market will bear.

No doubt Steve is right. There is simply no reason barring a severe economic recession why we won’t follow the Europeans—prepare for more escalation in the upper echelon of the wine market.

Why are we obsessed with tiny plots of land? It’s in the very nature of aesthetic appreciation:

… something in it [wine], and in us, makes us sensitive to the slightest differences. We seek those differences, make judgments as to their relative merits, collectively decide which blocks are the best, and reward them, as the free market allows and even encourages.

It’s a further question whether it is rational to pay so much for fine differences? But have you priced a Rothko or Picasso lately?

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