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Wine Review: Some high-cost wines worth the price of admission

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While I am constantly on the lookout for affordable wines to tell you about, I have ignored wines with a more costly price tag.

When a wine displays a formidable price, the question invariably arises, “Is it worth it?” That is where wine columnists come in to tell the reader all about the wine and then give an unbiased opinion of it. If a pricey wine should not come up to form, wine critics, self-styled experts and even wine geeks would fall on it like a band of starving wolves attacking raw meat.

With all of this in mind, I would like to look at some wines that are, in my opinion, worth their price and explain why they are so costly.

There are many facets to determining the selling price of a wine, including the usual costs of running a winemaking business such as staff, facilities, utilities, taxation, bottles, closures, labels and the big one, the cost of the grapes. It takes about 800 grapes to make one bottle of wine.

In 2020, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon grapes sold for $6,260 per ton, with one ton making about 800 bottles of wine. Doing the math, that comes to $7.83 per bottle just for the raw, unprocessed grapes.

While that is not really a number to justify a high price, there are a few extras.

Oak barrels are important for red wines and white chardonnay as they add a particular nuance to the wines that is, to say the least, indispensable. The average wine barrel holds enough wine to fill 300 bottles. Unfortunately, an oak barrel can be used only twice before it loses its additive properties, and replacing one can cost about $600.

I hope that I have not sounded like a math professor, but facts are facts, and these facts are just a part of the final price you pay for a wine. And I haven’t even mentioned labor, transportation and equipment costs.

Laki's Estate 2020 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($140)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a wine's value is on the palate of the drinker. The Laki's Estate 2020 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon displays a deep ruby color that appears to be almost black with hues of purple and ruby when held up to the light. The wine presents the rich aromas of black cherry, blackberry and cassis, which are complemented by subtle hints of sweet oak. While the price of this wine is rather high, so is the quality and honest presentation of the variety it offers, which justifies its final selling price.

Arly Mountain 2019 Pinot Noir ($75)
This wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon, displays a big, open, full-fruit flavor. It is all too rare that a pinot noir wine puts the fruit up front, but the Arly Mountain 2019 Pinot Noir most certainly does just that. The flavor is powerful, stressing black cherries, blackberries and blueberries, intermingled with fresh -cut cedar and sage, which continues on to the finish. While this wine is not a rival to the legendary Burgundies of France, nor does it claim to be, it most certainly is an excellent example of a well-made and aristocratic pinot noir.

Destin Vineyards 2020 XI Cabernet Sauvignon ($90)
The 2020 XI Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery's third vintage and has become their signature style. It is a full-bodied red that is the ideal wine for accompanying heavier cuts of meat. This cabernet sauvignon has a medium-plus body that is well-balanced with a smooth texture, structured tannins and rich, expressive red fruit. While an excellent accompaniment with winter foods, this wine also can serve as an elegant sipping wine that is definitely worth its price.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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