What exactly is a cult wine?
As if all the images the word “cult” conjures weren’t twisted enough, its association to wine has a definition that’s duller than an old-timey corkscrew. At first blush, you might think cult wine juice is pressed at some compound in Texas, especially when most of wine made in the Lone Star State (yes, they make wine there) can be considered cult. Confused yet? Let’s take a step back.
If you Google the word cult, one of the less sanctimonious descriptions is “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.” That characterization is usually applied to people who adore things like movies or recordings which are so bad they’re good. Who doesn’t have a friend who’s only one lonely night away from starting a Facebook fan page dedicated to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Room or just about any Kiss album post-Destroyer?
When it comes to wine, cult takes on the opposite connotation with the distinction attached to those wines that, while exceling in quality, are only made in small amounts. So rather than them being so crap they’re cool, they’re celebrated for their uniqueness and collectability.
Trouble is, with cult comes cost (to you). That means any bottle hip enough for the nickname will automatically have a higher price tag hanging around its neck. Everyone wants in on that action, so the market is knee-deep in limited editions and/or only sold from a winery’s cellar door type wines.
Small Canadian boutique (a kinder, gentler term for cult) wineries have certainly drunk the Kool-Aid. With production typically too tiny to make selling to provincial monopolies worth the paperwork, getting them into your glass takes some effort. When you can get a bottle, the less fortunate of your geeky friends will see red (or white or rosé) which is at the root of why cult wines have become so popular.