I suppose it’s fitting that my first blog post should be about money. It’s top of mind for most people these days. Except, perhaps, for Richard Gere. (More on that shortly.) I’m thinking specifically, about the price of wine in restaurants. Although wine retailers have dropped their prices- some dramatically so – a lot of restaurant wine prices seemed to have stayed pretty much the same as they were in the pre-Madoff, pre-AIG bailout days. There are some exceptions, to be sure- but then there are the wine prices of The Farmhouse in Bedford, New York, a restaurant owned by Richard Gere. This newish restaurant (it opened a few months ago) is said to be a favorite haunt of locals like Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren, who ride their horses right up to the door. It's certainly a good-looking place in a suburban equestrian style and the food is pretty fair. But the wine prices are, in a word, outrageous. Given the job of ordering a "decent reasonably priced wine" for a table of eight, I combed the list several times, looking for something that might fit my host's request ... and found a bottle of 2007 Jolivet Sancerre for $77- and that was one of the cheapest white wines on the list. (No, I didn't buy it; I opted for an $85 FX Pichler Gruner Veltliner.)
Had Gere's last few movies made so little money he was looking to make it up on sales of Sancerre? Or had Loire Valley wine prices skyrocketed recently? Coincidentally, I ran into Jolivet's importer a few days after that dinner. I told him the story of the restaurant's prices and professed to be shocked. How much was the wholesale price of Jolivet anyway? I asked. About $200, he said, reduced to $180 with a five-case purchase. In other words, Gere's getting more than six times his bottle cost. Well, that has to be a much better return than than most of Hollywood is getting these days.