What is a Cult Wine?
A cult wine is essentially an American term used to define a high quality, exceedingly expensive wines that are produced in very small quantities and are highly sought after by collectors. It refers mainly but not exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced by a group of Napa Valley wineries.
Similarly wines from Bordeaux of extraordinary quality are also hunted and pursued by such accumulators.
The thing is that outstanding cult Napa Valley and Bordeaux wines is that they have this deservedly rich intrigue. These wines are rare and veiled gems and are a lot are true rock stars. For some folks the whole quest is in turning up one of these bottles.
Let’s expand a little on the Cult Wines of Bordeaux and California…
Cult Wines Bordeaux
The cult wines of Bordeaux tend to be left-bank cabernet-based wines that ranked highly in the Classification of 1855. Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, and Château Mouton Rothschild all qualify. Right-bank wines from Pétrus, Château Le Pin, Château Angélus, and Château Cheval Blanc are also highly sought-after. With the exception of Le Pin (which was first produced in 1979, all of these estates have a long history of fine wine production, going back in some cases before the 1700s. The production levels of these wines is generally higher than California cult wines—Haut-Brion, for example, produces 10-12,000 cases annually, Lafite produces just under 30,000, and Petrus produces 6,000. Le Pin would be one of the smallest-producing of the Bordeaux cult wines, at 600-700 cases a year.
Cult Wines California
California cult wines refers to any of the California wines "typically but not exclusively Napa Valley Cabernets" for which collectors, investors and highly enthusiastic consumers will pay very high prices. The emergence of the cult movement coincided with trends in the 1990s towards riper fruit and wines with bigger and more concentrated flavors. The producers of such wines include Araujo Estates, Bryant Family Vineyard, Chateau Montelena, Colgin Cellars, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Grace Family Vineyards, Harlan Estate, Schrader Cellars, Screaming Eagle and Sine Qua Non. All of which have scored 100 point scores from wine critics.
These wines are generally very expensive and are limited production (often fewer than 600 cases per year) and can command several times their "release price" in the secondary market.
Many are flipping and reselling these bottles at a much higher price; sometimes showing up at wine auctions.
Some wine lovers spend years on winery waiting lists in the hopes to have an opportunity to to buy just a few bottles of the Cult Wines. While other side deals with wine shops or similar contacts to purchase Bordeaux futures to get a shot at the wine.