CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As regular readers of my ramblings know, I am on an incessant search for wines of excellent quality that are also values. A few years back it was easy to despair of the notion that you could easily find good wine at reasonable prices.
To be sure, there are still outrageously priced wines in the marketplace that are immune to conventional economics, particularly those with famous names or those from places that are revered, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa. Some wines from these regions are still priced out of all relationship to reality (as I define the term).
Chateau Petrus, which is undoubtedly the most famous wine in Bordeaux, is also the most extreme example of how crazy wine pricing can be. The 2005 Petrus fetches between $3,000 and $4,000 a bottle! Amazingly, there is a long line of "trophy" hunters just waiting to plunk down their cash for the stuff.
But before you forsake all wine purchases and switch to buttermilk, consider this: There are thousands of wineries around the world that are making good, even great wine at affordable prices. You just have to look a little harder, be adventuresome and be willing to try wines with which you are unfamiliar.
As a matter of fact, I am convinced that the number of these value wines is increasing. Could this be a trend? I hope so.
In the past, it all came down to supply and demand. When Mother Nature smiles in the vineyard and there is a glut of wine on the world market, prices drop. The converse is true as well. You also have to factor in the tepid economy, which has forced some wineries to lower their unrealistic pricing.
But there is now more to the equation. The new X factor is the Internet and search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Ask. Information and pricing on wines, which had once been obscure and unavailable, are now just a click away.