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2009 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah: Best QPR Ever?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Just when I was thinking "Hey it's been a while since Wine Spectator gave us a high QPR wine to chase after" they dropped a doozy on us yesterday. The 2009 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah received a 97 point rating - and retails for just $25. Carlisle mailing list members were offered the wine for an even more incredible $19.50.

Carlisle produces Zinfandel and red Rhone varietal wines out of Sonoma. They've been cranking out high QPR wines for a while now so the name is familiar to wine deal hounds.

It's been a while since I fired up the wwpQPR calculator (what's that?) but I thought this might be the best QPR I've ever heard of. Using a baseline price of $30 (the point at which it is relatively easy to find 90 point domestic Syrah) the wwpQPR gives us a 6.05: Outstanding Value. I think that might indeed be the best value I've ever heard of.

Where to Buy

Well, that's the problem. With only 391 cases produced and a faithful mailing list that's been wise to their reasonably priced high quality wines for a while, this one is going to be tough. A quick wine-searcher.com search turns up a few retailers that claimed to have had it for $25 or under -- but when you click through it's all sold out.

Based on past experience with wines like these, we'll see the wine quickly evaporate at retail especially under $40. The wine will be available at high mark-up at some retailers and will be available on auction sites for $50 and up. At that point, it kind of wrecks the QPR. At $50 it's a 3.02 on the wwpQPR: Very Good. Still a nice value but not one to break your neck over.

What to Do Next

Jump on their mailing list. The pattern is clear with Carlisle - they're producing wines attaining incredibly high scores and they're holding the line on price. Sounds like the perfect mailing list to be a part of. Be prepared for a wait: I signed up a few years ago and haven't gotten an allocation.

Next, scour around wine-searcher looking for back vintages and other bottlings from Carlisle. This bodes well for their 2009 offerings and I hear their 2006s were also amazing.

It's interesting to watch the CellarTracker reviews come in for a wine like this. Prior to the Spectator rating coming out yesterday, the ratings are about what you'd expect for a $25 wine from Carlisle: 90-93 points. A note published yesterday after the Spectator rating came out? 95 points.

I've discussed this pheonomenon with friends before -- how CellarTracker is an excellent resource to consult when deciding whether to take advantage of a wine deal. But there is often a high rating/price correlation on CellarTracker since most regular wine enthusiasts like us taste non-blind. Throw in a little 97-point Wine Spectator bias and it often pulls the CellarTracker ratings up a bit.

Definitely a topic for further discussion. I'd love it if you subscribed to the site so we can continue the conversation.

And consider subscribing to Wine Spectator. You can even use airline miles if you'd like.

Question of the Day: Have you seen this wine available at retail? Any tips for buying this wine or similar offerings from Carlisle in the open market?

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