The buzz surrounding mailings lists has grown very quiet over the last four years. This is due in no small part to the recession and corresponding drop in disposable income that many consumers have experienced. The days of waiting years to acquire wines from the likes of Colgin, Bryant and Quilceda Creek have largely gone away. I suspect the next year or so it will be much easier to obtain wines like Schrader, Scarecrow and Sine Qua Non.
I believe this is also largely due to the shift in California coverage at the Wine Advocate from Robert Parker to Antonio Galloni. Without 100 point scores, these exceptional wines will no longer be bought by collectors who speculate in wine appreciation. They will, however, continue to be bought by collectors who appreciate a great bottle and also have the capacity to buy $200 Cabernet and $150 Syrah.
So what wineries will be able to continue to by and large sell their wines exclusively via mailing lists? What wineries will have such a large demand that there is actually a waiting list to get on the mailing list?
Here are my five candidates for the Fab 5 of mailing lists. I have little doubt that their wines will continue to be coveted by collectors and that obtaining their wines will always be problematic regardless of economic conditions.
- Cayuse: Founded by Christophe Baron, this Washington winery has received critical acclaim for its Syrah lineup for nearly 10 years. Prices average $80 per bottle.
- Saxum: Founded by Justin Smith, the winery specializes in Syrah and Syrah blends and receives rave reviews from all critics. Pricing is steady at $90 per bottle.
- Kosta Browne: Founded by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne, KB specializes in exceptional single vineyard California Pinot Noir. Prices range from $60-80 per bottle.
- Carlisle; Founded by Mike Officer, Carlisle excels at small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from California’s most historic vineyards. Prices range from $20-50 per bottle.
- Rochioli: The oldest winery on my list, Rochioli has a history dating back to the 1950’s. Known for their Pinot Noir, they also make exceptional Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Prices start at $30 for the Sauvignon Blanc, and range from $50-100 for the various Pinot Noir’s.
What sets these wineries apart?
There is little doubt that the quality of the wine in the glass is the first part of the equation. You may not necessarily agree with the style of all the wines, but there is no question they are exceptionally well made.
Variety is another factor. With the exception of Saxum, these wineries make a plethora of different wines. At the low end, Saxum has six different wines. At the other end of the spectrum, Carlisle makes upward of 25 different wines.
Finally, it’s not a coincidence that all these wines are priced fairly. The Rochioli West Block Pinot Noir, at $100, is the only wine that reaches triple digits.
I guess the not so secret qualities of my list are a variety of well made wines that are priced fairly. Go figure. As I write this, I can’t think of many other wineries that could some day join my Fab 5 of mailing lists. Bedrock? Rivers-Marie? Maybe. Time will tell.
What winery mailing lists would you put on your Fab 5?
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