Monday, September 6, 2010

2008 Harlan Allocation

The 2008 Harlan Allocation is out: $500 for the 2008 Harlan, and $150 for the 2007 Harlan the Maiden. Wine investors should probably skip this one.

Higher release prices among the cult California Cabs have forced wine speculators to make difficult choices in recent years. The 2008 Harlan hasn't been rated by Parker yet, but we still have enough information to make an informed decision. 2008 was a difficult year for Napa Valley; the worst spring frost in 35 years was followed by drought and summer heat spikes. Odds are that even the top Napa estates will have a hard time reaching 100 points. And at $500/bottle, you're going to need 100 points to make money on the 2008 Harlan.

Parker has given four Harlan vintages perfect scores: 1994, 1997, 2001, and 2002. These wines all trade for over $750 at auction. The problem is that typical vintages do not sell for these prices. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, Harlan made great wine. Scores from Parker ranged from 95 to 98, but the auction prices for the 2003-2005 Harlans range from $350 to $475.

Bear in mind that after the auction house charges you 20% commission, your 2008 Harlan needs to sell for $600 - just to break even. There's also local sales tax and shipping to consider. Without 100 points from a top critic, it will be very difficult for a speculator to make money flipping the 2008 Harlan.

The 2007 Harlan the Maiden looks like a safer bet. Its Parker score is in line with other vintages of the Maiden, and it is priced fairly -if personal consumption is your goal. As with the 2008, the auction house fees, shipping and local sales tax will destroy any chance of profit.

Bottom line: If you want to sell these wines right away, it's going to be tough to make money. But if you just want to buy something to stay on the allocation list, choose the Maiden.

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