How wine prices have changed over 25 years

on 10/12/11 at 2:01 pm

Wine

Think you’re spending a lot more for your French wines than you did in 1986? It all depends on which ones.

I complain about wine prices. A lot. Maybe I’m just jaded, or spoiled since I’ve been buying wine for so long, or perhaps my standard of living has simply eroded. Then again, I’ve grown more mature and understand the actual value of things and how hard I’m willing to work for them like never before.

No matter what the cause, it seems to me that wine prices have gotten totally out of hand, forcing many of my favorite wines out of the realm of ordinary drinkers. My being a somewhat ordinary drinker, as opposed to taster, probably is the root cause of my frustration.

So am I on to something or is emotion distorting my perspective? There is only one way to find out: By looking at wine prices 25 years ago and today. We’ll compare the same bottle of wine in both years, as well as for the same wine in corresponding vintages. I’ve dug into my stash of old wine catalogs and found the fall 1986 Crossroads catalog for reference. Let’s begin our journey back to the 80s with a look at France.

Chateau Prieure Lichine

Then: It can be argued that Bordeaux has been the most aggressive region in pushing up pricing over the past decade or two. In 1986, the glorious 1982s were not yet so widely praised and the 1983s had just hit the market. I was a buyer at the lower end of the spectrum then and have not regretted it since even rather modest wines from these vintages have aged well.

Back in 1986, I purchased both vintages of Chateau Prieure Lichine for $13.89 at Crossroads. Today, factoring in the rate of inflation, Prieuere Lichine should cost about $27.25.

Now: Prices today for the wine look like this:

1982 average price = $115 (820% appreciation)

1983 average price = $110 (785% appreciation)

2008 average price = $45

It looks like both the 1982 and 1983 vintages have worked out well as investments, and the 2008 is less than twice the price of those earlier vintages. I expect we’ll find that Prieure Lichine is still a relative bargain in the world of wine.

FULL STORY

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