But wine prices and availability are all about supply and demand, and even in this sluggish economy there are values that come and go quickly when bottles are scarce. Some wines are made or imported in quantities of just a few thousand or even a few hundred cases. In contrast, Bodegas LAN made 200,000 cases of its 2006 Rioja Crianza, for example. That’s why it’s still around (and still on sale) despite earning the No. 44 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010.
There were only 1,000 cases of Ken Forrester Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Western Cape Petit 2010 imported into the U.S., so few wine shops carry it and allocations to individual stores are relatively small. So after Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin named it his “Value Wine of 2011” in December, the resulting spike in demand collides with the limited supply leading to that quick sell out in Annapolis.
Yet you may still be able to try this “pertinent reminder that great Cabernet can be made for under ten-dollars,” according to Martin. Both Bell Wine & Spirits on M Street, NW, and Cairo Wine & Spirits on 17th Street, NW, have Ken Forrester Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot for $9.99. [EDITOR'S NOTE: After we published this morning Calvert Woodley tweeted this afternoon that is also has the wine in stock for $9.99, thought it still doesn't show up on its website. We appreciate the undocumented update.] In Maryland it costs a few dollars more, $11.98 on sale at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg (regularly $14.99) and $12.99 at Olney Beer & Fine Wine (using its 15% off a $100 purchase, you can buy eight bottles and get the price per bottle down to just over $11).
“A blend of 65% Cabernet and 35% Merlot, the marvelous 2010 Petit Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot has a herbaceous, Cru Bourgeois-like nose but is fresh, well defined and full of energy,” Martin wrote in the August issue of Wine Advocate, scoring it 90 points. “The palate is vibrant on the entry and embraces Old World freshness and vitality better than most Bordeaux! It has a delicious, crisp peppery fruit with a touch of cedar and graphite on the well-defined finish. The only thing ’Petit’ about this superb wine is the price.”
Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth was somewhat less enthused, awarding it a still-respectable 84 points. “This up-front style offers light-bodied cherry pit and pomegranate fruit, laced with a light herb note,” he wrote in his web review.
The cabernet-merlot blend is not as widely available as the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc we recommended in August, which was imported in much higher volume (17,500 cases) and Molesworth scored 88 points. In Virginia, Unwined Online in Alexandria has the 2009 vintage of Petit Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot – a 50-50 blend, rather than the cab-dominated blend in 2010, which earned 87 points and a "Best Buy" designation from Wine Enthusiast magazine – for only $8.99, as does Bin 201 Cellars in Annapolis for $10.99 and Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits for $12.49. Presumably they’ll also get the 2010 vintage soon, though it may not last as long as the 2009.
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