Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Et Satan Conduit Le Bal, Conduit Le Bal!

Dr. Faustus, warns that Harvard's endowment will be significantly diminished by the current financial crisis. Will Yale suffer the same problems or will they be bailed out by the sinking Goldman Sachs? Will the Skull and Bones triumph over the Crimson? Will Goldman Sacks let the Crimson go down the way they let Lehman Brothers disappear after rescuing Bear Stearns and AIG? What's this got to do with wine? Recently, wine economists have been concerned about the carbon footprint of wine. A worthy subject, but they seem to be in denial. Sources in Sonoma tell me that tasting room visits are down twenty-five percent. Shhssh, don't tell, they'd banish us, you know! How will the housing crisis and the financial crisis affect the wine world? Is there a wine bubble? Why do $30 wines cost $35 to $45? Why did 2005 Bordeaux First Growths start at $500 a bottle? Let's see, Dot.com bubble, housing bubble, wine bubble? The chief culprit? Greenspan! Allan bought peace in his time by keeping interest rates too low for too long. He averted a depression in 2000-2002, by creating the housing bubble. He talked about "irrational exuberance in, was it, 1996, when the Dow was at 6000, but did nothing about it letting the market rise to an exuberant 14,000. He got rid of Glass- Steagall, passed in the 1930s to avoid the kind of over-leveraged "Investment Bank" maneuvers of the past few years. There were to be banks and investment brokers and never were the twain to meet. He is in Shock! Shock and Awe! Disbelief! Hello? Where were you, when online mortgage broker wanted to know if I wanted to present documentation when trying to refinance? You're kidding me! What reasonable banker would give a person a loan without knowing if the borrower had any income or assets? Where were you when a mortgage broker didn't care about the fact that a friend couldn't have paid for food or anything else when he tried to spend every last penny on a down payment and would have been spending half of his monthly income on mortgage payments. Those alt A (liar's loans) and subprime mortgages sure paid the mortgage brokers well, up to $40,000 with kickbacks and other nefarious activities. The banks made out like bandits, since the brokers and bankers didn't have to live with their lousy loans. Just spread the merde all over the world in the alphabet soup form of CDOs, SIVs and other insidious tranches of poubelle. Let some poor little town in Northern Norway deal with it! Greenspan discovered a flaw! Unregulated capitalism, rapacious capitalism, counterparties would self regulate, the Invisible Hand knows best! Ask any San Francisco driver, "Who needs traffic lights?" - just drive up the wrong side of the street whenever you want.


Again, what's this got to do with wine? My sources provide contradictory evidence. One Washington State winery has supposedly increased sales 30% this year. One new wine wholesaler tells me that the wine market has frozen up this month just like the financial markets. Retailers are not buying at all, or are sticking only with their tried and true brands.
What happened to American innovation and experimentation? Have wine prices gone down in response to less demand, or is it like the old General Motors saying, "when sales go down, raise the price." I need a bailout! How about you? What did all those living and dead Vets fight for anyway? What has your experience been? What do you think? Here is an appropriate opportunity to comment anonymously.

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