Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Closeouts: Are they really a good deal?

I'm sure that many of you have seen quite the impressive number of price reductions, wholesaler and retailer based closeouts so far this year. Considering the weak economy and the steeply rising prices of many wines, it's only natural for there to be a large number of price corrections in the market, with many more ahead of us. If you closely scour a store's inventory, either by paying a visit to scan the shelves, or shopping online, you are likely to spot some terrific deals. Buyer beware, though. What seems like a good deal on paper may actually disappoint.

Though I'm in the business, I too am not immune to huge price reduction fever. I purchased a mixed case recently which I had thought would make me very happy in the months and years ahead. A few bottles '04 Chateau Brown Blanc at $12.99 (marked down from $29.99), six bottles of '06 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Fronzholz at $9.99 (marked down from $39.99) and a few '05 La Parde de Haut Bailly ($14.99, down from $29.99). All but the last wine, I think, were bad mistakes, even considering the huge savings. On the '04 Brown Pessac-Leognan, I remembered liking it quite a bit more, though it did follow a line-up of big, oaky, tannic '05 and '06 Bordeaux. What was relatively balanced, bright and tasty that day I have since discovered is just another oaked white wine I don't much care for, not even at $12.99. For the Ostertag, '06 was a far from stellar year in Alsace. Big ripe wines with more botrytis are the norm; even someone like Ostertag must have had a tough time producing wines which balance power, mineral and acidity. Granted for $10 a pop, it will be an interesting experiment to see where this wine is at in five years, though I'm not optimistic about the results. As for the '05 La Parde (Haut Bailly's second label), I'm cautiously optimistic as the wine is big, but also very mineral and Haut Bailly's stuff is a lot more honest and well made than many other Bdx out there.

So before you pull the trigger on any 'deals,' it may help to first remember what you actually like.


slaton said...

You didn't mention condition. No problem if it's a shop with good storage, closing out their own stock. But plenty of these bottles are bounced around, and motivation to treat them well in the supply chain can be lacking.

Joe Manekin said...

Slaton -

Of course, condition of distributor closeouts is often times poor, having spent time in a warm warehouse, not to mention the conditions of its reefer and various stops before its final destination.

My main point here, though, was being careful to not be tempted by what looks like a great deal if you don't really like a particular type of wine in the first place.