This summer, California's wineries will let more than 75 tons of fruit rot on the vines because of a grape glut.
For fans of cheap jug wine, this has been a godsend, with prices sliding below $7 for many of the mass-market brands. But for people with more refined tastes, retail prices on super-premium wines haven't dropped much.
"By definition, collectible wines are tied to their rarity," said Chris Shipley, wine director for the 21 Club, a landmark New York City restaurant. "And believe me, the people who make the wines know this and keep production low."
But just because wineries have controlled production, doesn't mean they're pumping out less wine. In fact, high-end wineries also have a glut -- and a lot of it ends up in the hands of negociants like Cameron Hughes, who snap them up and reblend them into drinkable wines meant for the table, not the cellar.
"In the high end market, guys who were selling wines for $40 or $50 a bottle can't fetch those prices anymore. I wish I could tell you who these wineries are, but I can't," explained Hughes, who runs Cameron Hughes Wines. "But our first wine came from guys who don't sell a single bottle for less than $100. And we reblended it and it sold for $20."
Over the next 12 months, expect more reblended wines to appear in the marketplace. Cameron Hughes' Cinergi reds and whites are already available in some markets and will be in stores nationwide by 2003.
While you're waiting for more blends to hit the market, we asked people who work with wine across a range of disciplines about what wines they feel are the best deals now. Whether you want to spent $12 or $112, there's one in here for you.