Archive for the ‘Mack’ Category

The “ROACH CURVE”, another “Roach Clip” BLOG

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

How much should you pay for a good bottle of Cabernet?

Simple answer: “no more than you can afford”. So if your budget for Cabernet is $9.99, look real hard and you can probably find a descent one. Hopefully this not “where you are at”!

More complicated answer: You can afford to pay more but don’t want to pay more than you ought to. How much should you pay? Suppose you want to collect higher end Cabernets but want to shop for bargains how much should you pay? .

The two top producers of Cabernet based wines (in terms of volume and quality) come from Bordeaux (France) and California (Napa & Sonoma). In an attempt to answer the more complicated question, I created the “Roach Curve” (see Table 1 and Figure 1). I took all the wines on the Wine Spectator website and sorted them by score and price and placed them into groups. I then found the median price of each wine. For those of you who don’t remember (never knew or forgot) the median price simply means, one-half of the wines cost more than the median price and one-half will cost less. For example, if there are five wines costing $12, $15, $20, $35 and $1500, the median is $20. In contrast the average or mean price would be $315. Obviously $20 is more representative of a type price of these wines. The beauty of this approach is that you usually do not calculate the median, you simply sort by price within a score range, count the number of scores (4th column of Table 1 and take the middle value). If there are an even number of prices, take a value mid way between the two middle prices and you have it!

ROACH CURVE 2004 Cab table

Figure 1 graphically displays the data from Table 1. Admittedly this is less than a perfect approach because the ranges are relatively wide. For example, 90 points is not as prestigious as 94 points. The argument I would use however is that “if a wine is near the top of the rating range (e.g. 94 points), and it is priced is well below median (or at the bottom of the range), then from a price standpoint it is a good buy compared to other Cabernet based wines”. Even if the score is not at the top of the range this information can be useful.

Roach Curve 2004 Cabs

For example, take 95-100 point cabernets, the median price is $125, range is $65 to $350 (see Table 1). A 95 point Cabernet for a $65 is probably a good purchase. Buy one bottle and taste it. You may want to purchase a large quantity because if the rating is accurate it is likely that it will keep for a long time and prices for Cabernets keep going up!

In addition, what’s also interesting from this type of analysis is that the median price of California wine rated by Wine Spectator are slightly higher than French wines which are 95 points and below. However, the high-end French wines are significantly more expensive than California wine (as is shown at the right portion of Figure1). A similar analysis can be performed for all the types of wines the readers may wish to consider purchasing!

Stay Tuned for more “Roach Clips”!

Roach Clip – 10 Rules for Buying Good Wine for the Beginner

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

#1. Wine rules are made to be broken. For example, it’s commonly believed that white wine goes with fish, or white sauces and red wine goes with meat. There are times when the opposite may be optimal.

#2. Always taste wine before buying – unless you are: (a) familiar with the wine critic who rated it and consistently agree with his (her) palate; and (b) it is too expensive to buy a bottle to “simply taste”, particularly when it is a wine that tends to need aging to be at it’s best.

#3. Don’t collect wine unless you have a place to keep it. Wine should not be allowed to exceed 68 degrees. When wine is stored improperly it ages faster and may turn into vinegar.

#4. If you are going to collect, collect no more than 10% of your capacity per year. Your taste will change and different types of buying opportunities will arise. For example, you don’t want to fill your cellar with California Cabernets only to find out years later that you prefer Italian wines but don’t have the money or space to have both.

#5. Blind tastings are essential to keep you from fooling yourself. Ultimately it comes down to this, if your tastes don’t match the critics, why buy wine you don’t like?

#6. Learn to pair food with wine. Consider the spices in cooking and if the wine will compliment it. We found that we prefer barbequed meats with Zins and Syrahs instead of Cabs. It is terrible to pair great food and great wine that clash. Mediocre wine can taste excellent when ideally matched. It takes practice but generally light wine goes best with light foods.

#7. Don’t believe the hype. Buy what you like to drink. This rule relates to Rules # 2 & 5 above but also extends to determining how much more you should pay for wine.

#8. Be aggressive about purchasing good highly rated wine you really like. Pay attention to the Roach curve or create your own rules (see Roach Clip next month). Great value, great tasting wines tend to go fast and years later you will wish you had bought more before the price went up.

#9. Don’t get stuck in a niche. Try and buy a variety of wine. Don’t be afraid to taste wines from over the world.

#10. Read about wine. The most popular sources are Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Tanzer, but if you don’t have time read “Roach Clips”!

Next month…The Roach Curve!


Mack and Deborah Roach