Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Greatest Cult Wine Ever?

The man on the left is a genius. Not because he can smoke a cigar, fire a shotgun and chug a glass of wine while jumping up and down on a vintage race car. Anyone named Vin Diesel or Chuck Norris can do that. No, this man is a genius because he figured out how to sell a bottle of wine for several thousand dollars.

The amusing part is that, at least initially, Todd Anderson's Ghost Horse wines appear to have begun as a parody of highly priced, extremely limited production wines. The image on the left was apparently prominently displayed on the Ghost Horse World website before it was redesigned. Even now, the website has a little footnote at the bottom reading "The Occult Wine Experience" and shows images of the winemaker living his fantastic lifestyle. This still looks much like an elaborate goof.

Now, since I'm not a journalist, I'm not going to follow up on this beyond what's available on the Web. But there is a very lengthy discussion on a message board that suggests this is for real. If you have a crap-load of expendable income, you can indeed purchase a bottle of this wine. Winemaker Todd Anderson posts repeatedly to discuss his special project, though at times he also writes in character like one might expect his shotgun firing, car jumping alter-ego would.

Whatever Anderson's intentions were initially--an Andy Kauffman or Borat-like put on or a serious high end winemaking venture--it's clear he's homing in on a curious niche. Much wine is marketed as a lifestyle product, but Ghost Horse World sells the lifestyle along with the wine. The wine club link says it all: it simply titled "Belong." Members of the wine club purchase a barrel of wine for about $5k per bottle, and in return, they receive benefits such as travelling with Todd Anderson, staying at the winery for several weeks per year, and access to Anderson's vacation properties. If you can only afford a case of wine for $15k or $27k, Anderson will hand deliver the case and spend dinner with you to discuss his wine. The merely wealthy, however, can apparently buy a bottle of his entry level Cabernet for a paltry $500 per bottle at the winery. $500 doesn't get you very far in terms of buying a lifestyle, it seems.

Based on its contents and the price of production alone, no wine is really worth more than about $50. But scarcity, demand and image apparently can account for an order of magnitude if not two increase in the purchase price. As much as this seems like a clever hoax in the vein of Andy Kauffman claiming the inter-gender wrestling title, I think this is for real. If you know a serious wine snob who can't get enough of $100+ bottles of wine, tell him he hasn't had a Ghost Horse yet. It's so damn expensive, it must be the greatest thing since diamond encrusted sliced bread covered in truffles and caviar!


Slaked! said...

That's a great pic. I was intrigued so I went to the website and looked at one of the applications for "membership." The whole thing is just bizarre. It would be fun to try one of these wines, though, don't you think? Can't say I care much for the labels though.

CabFrancoPhile said...

Bizarre is certainly the best way to put it. It would indeed be fun to taste the wine. I'd imagine it is one of those ultra plush, creamy oak, high extract, high viscosity sorts of wines. Those rarely disappoint when made in small quantities, though $500 is a bit steep for me!