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

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”!

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