Thanks to the tough economic conditions pretty much everyone is cutting back on their purchases. As Paul Romero noted in his current blog entry, people are in the market for wines at a lower price point than they previously paid.
One good place to pick up bargains is in the secondary market. Cellar storage isn't free; not for wineries or for customers, so if tastes have changed and people have wines they don't plan to drink it may make more sense to cut their losses and sell them off. In many cases it's possible to buy mature, well cellared examples of wines for less than the price of current releases.
I spotted a couple of vintages of Sycamore Creek at auction recently. One was the excellent 1978 which I've written about previously and also the 1979. A weaker vintage to be sure, but I put in a low opening bid and won.
Unlike the 1978 which carried the Central Coast label, the 1979 was made with fruit from San Luis Obispo County. (The winery had replanted in 1977 and the young vines were not yet producing.)
1979 Sycamore Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, San Luis Obispo County
Fill level on the bottle was good; base of the neck. Removing the foil showed a little mould on the cork but no obvious seepage. The cork came out easily, unlike the 1978s; it was stained almost entirely and the sides were moist, with some tartrate crystals in the void spaces.
The wine had a russet colour, with a clear meniscus. The nose was a little musty and slightly sherryish, with aromas of beef jerky. On the palate it was fully mature - flavours of leather and cedar and a little dill. There was still plenty of tannin and acidity, and some dried berry fruit, but not much. Some mustiness on the finish. But when served with food the tannins were diminished and the sweet dried fruit came to the fore. 86
Although it's by no means a classic the wine has held up remarkably well, especially considering it's from a weaker vintage. Well worth the $10 I paid for it.