“In 1983, I paid $110 for a case of the extraordinary 1982 Pichon Lalande and $550 for the 1982 Mouton.”
Chateau Mouton Rothschild at the time was going for about $45.83 per bottle. Admittedly not cheap, but also not completely prohibitive. According to the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator, in the sense of today’s economy that would be worth about $105.65 a bottle for the Mouton while the Pichon would be just over $20. Care to hazard a guess as to what that wine actually costs today? A quick inquiry on wine-searcher.com lists the average price of the 2010 vintage of the Mouton at $1184.00 per bottle with the Pichon averaging $242 per bottle.
World class wine that was once within reach of the everyman (after cracking open the piggy-bank or perhaps searching for change through a few dozen couches) is now so prohibitively expensive that even working within the wine industry I can’t say that I will ever taste any of the 1st growths. What caused this price inflation? In the ‘90’s it was a booming Japanese economy of a new wine drinking culture searching for trophy bottles, and now China is home to some of the biggest auctions in wine history. More wine drinkers means more enthusiasts vying for the classics.
My personal favorite advantage to the times? Technology, especially the internet, has made information about wine easily available to anybody seeking it, and this has helped raise the average level of knowledge of even casual wine consumers. More informed consumers and wine drinkers give further incentive for producers to create more unique wines of better quality; it’s also the driving force behind regional revivals in regions throughout the world that are shifting focus from quantity of grapes to quality. Even though it is easy to lament bygone days of drinking top class wines, I’ll be perfectly content with the abundant options for good wine sub-20$ a bottle.
*Full disclosure: I took the sommelier certification test, and though I passed the written and blind tasting portions of the exam, I failed due to insufficient preparation and performance for the service portion of the exam.