Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I used to say that American Syrah over $20 was the deadest wine category out there, but now, it figures to be anything Australian over $30. No matter what kind of scores they pick up – Parker still gives them 94s, 95s, 96s, and beyond – people just 1) can’t afford them and 2) have become bored with them. Sure, Australia makes more than just full-throttle Shiraz, but the mindset in American consumers is that that is all there is. And I think the slowdown is not just high-end Aussies, but the whole Aussie category. Even the inexpensive Aussie wines are not nearly the value they used to be. Wines from Chile and Argentina, as well as old standards from Spain and to a lesser extent, France and Italy, have recently surged in sales. Value brands such as Alamos, Montes, Pascual Toso and Diseno have really picked up speed here, and offer a great deal for customers on a tight budget.

On the whole, I wish producers would reexamine their thought-process in trying to sell consumers $20+ Syrahs. It’s ridiculous! I couldn’t care if the wine got 100 points; no one wants to spend that much money on Syrah – and you can thank Yellowtail for that one. I think it is burned in the American wine drinkers’ minds that Syrah is a cheap grape – which is complete misperception on their part – and they won’t even look at a Syrah (or Shiraz for that matter) that is over $20. What many thought was going to be the next big thing in wine, is just about D.O.A. – if not at least in a coma.

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