Caitlin and I are more $10 - $20 rangers for the most part, occasionally spending $30 or so on a bottle and even more occasionally spending $60 on a really nice bottle. From a winery we have visited. After a wine tasting. That was preceded by other wine tastings. The point is there is wine to fit every person's budget, and there is a limit to what people are willing to pay for fermented grape juice.
I recently got to taste some of the wines produced by Bevan Cellars. Their wines are in the $150 range. Bevan Cellars has a sizable cult following and I was able to try their Cabernet Sauvignon, a couple of proprietary blends and a Merlot. It was obvious that all the wines were all complex and well-made, but I did not see what made these wines so superior to be worth the price.
The most inexpensive of the wines - the Merlot at $75 - was by far my favorite. It could, in fact, be one of the best Merlots I have had. A full-bodied, ruby-red, rich, complex wine with lots of berries, chocolate, tobacco and more chocolate, this would be a great wine to serve to someone that claims to hate Merlot.
The Cabernet was way to dry for my taste. If I were to ever spend triple digits on a bottle of wine, I don't want to have to chug a glass of water after every sip. That would defeat the purpose of drinking and enjoying the wine. The blends were both very well-balanced, full-bodied and interesting, though they were not necessarily to my liking. If I didn't know how much they cost, I might have enjoyed them more.
Perhaps it comes back to price point. If I am considering spending $150 on a single bottle of wine, it had better be spectacular. I was underwhelmed by Bevan's wines, just as I was underwhelmed by Opus One when Caitlin and I were in Napa last time.
The line between prestigious and pretentious is so thin when it comes to wine that it can be extremely hard to make the distinction. I certainly got a good mix of both when I tried both the Bevan and the Opus One.
If you know what you like, and you know what you are comfortable spending, all the prestige and the pomp won't make a $150 bottle taste any better if you can't justify the price.