## La CAV

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 16:53:13 -0400 (CLT)

http://www.lacav.cl

I cancelled my subscription with La CAV (the Chilean wine club) today.
They have four levels of membership, where you receive 2 (5.500), 3
(4.900), 6 (4.400) or 12 (3.300) bottles of wine a year.  The price *per
bottle* of monthly membership (minimum one year) is in brackets.

I signed up for 3 bottles a month, so pay 4.900 a bottle.  That's a lot of
money for a bottle of wine in Chile.  You can pay much more, of course,
but a drinkable table wine (the equivalent of wine by a glass in a
*decent* restaurant - there are many, including some I enjoy, that will
give you wine from a much cheaper box) costs 1.600.  A "reserve" costs
around 2.500-3.000.  So for about 5.000 you're up in the levels of
seriously expensive wine (I took a bottle of 5.000 wine to the states for
an American friend and he declared it the best wine he has ever drunk;
he's no great expert, but you get the idea).

And the club prides itself on the quality of its sommelier.

So you'd expect very good wine indeed.

In fact, you get wine that sells for, typically, around 3.500 in a
supermarket.  That's not quite fair, because some of the wines are from
smaller producers, which can be difficult to find in supermarkets (there
are some specialist wine shops, but they tend to be in rather fashionale
places - we're talking about wine so expensive it's out of the price range
of most people here).  And sometimes you do get one bottle that is more
expensive.  On the other hand, you can sometimes find special offers with
significantly lower prices.

Frankly, I don't think the sommelier does much.  Each month the wine is
from a different company.  The magazine, which accompanies the wine - more
on that later - has a feature on the company in question.  So this isn't a
case of hand-picked wines, chosen for their exceptional qualities.
Rather, I suspect, wine companies (vineyards, in the broad sense of the
word) see it as a marketing opportunity: a chance for targetted promotion
to the wealthiest people in the country.

To understand more clearly what is happening, you need to grasp the
politics in Chile.  Look again at the prices per bottle.  People signing
up for 12 bottles a month are the ones that are getting good value.
They're also, I strongly suspect, the very richest people businessmen:
people who are using that wine to entertain, on a regular basis.

There a close correlation between wealth, the conservative (far, in my
terms) right, and the catholic church.   Read: big, rich families.  A
recent fashion amongst the "blond" wives (there's a racial thing - if
you're rich, you either are, or aspire to be, white, so the women bleach
their hair - walk round Las Condes, La Dehesa, Vitacura, and just open
your eyes: it's obvious) was a necklace showing how many children you
have.  Get those families together at the weekend, knocking back nice
wine, and you'll need a dozen bottles a month.

And the magazine.  Reading it made me feel dirty.  Apart from the photos
of blond (again) people enjoying themselves at "cultural events" (I swear,
they have featured polo mathces several times) it's full of adverts for
luxury goods.  Perfumes, expensive cars.  Offers on exclusive health
clubs.

In short, it's just another club for the rich.  If you just want a few
bottles, you can get better wine (for much less, if you shop around).
Sign up only if you want a dozen bottles a month, or are happy and willing
to subsidise those that do (people that, in all honesty, really do not
Andrew
So I received yet more wine today.  And they called me up then refused to
now.