Cult wines are those for which dedicated groups of committed enthusiasts will pay large sums of money. Such wines include, for example, Screaming Eagle from America and Penfolds Grange from Australia, among many others.
Cult wines are often seen as trophy wines to be collected or as investment wine to be held rather than consumed. Because price is often seen as an indicator of quality, sellers may adopt a premium pricing strategy where high prices are used to increase the desirability of such wines. This is true even for less expensive wines. For example, one vintner explained that "on several occasions we have had difficulty selling wines at $75, but as soon as we raise the price to $125 they sell out and get put on allocation".
Other wines that fall under the title occasionally are from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône and Italy.
California cult wines refers to any of the California wines "typically but not exclusively Napa Valley Cabernets" for which collectors, investors and enthusiastic consumers will pay high prices. The emergence of the cult movement coincided with trends in the 1990s towards riper fruit and wines with bigger and more concentrated flavors. The producers of such wines include Araujo Estates, Bryant Family Vineyard, Colgin Cellars, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Grace Family Vineyards, Harlan Estate, Schrader Cellars, Screaming Eagle and Sine Qua Non. All have scored 100 point scores from wine critics.
These wines are generally very expensive and are limited production (often fewer than 600 cases per year) and can command several times their "release price" in the secondary market.
The cult wines of Bordeaux tend to be left-bank cabernet-based wines that ranked highly in the Classification of 1855. Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, and Château Mouton Rothschild all qualify. Right-bank wines from Pétrus, Château Le Pin, Château Angélus, and Château Cheval Blanc are also highly sought-after. With the exception of Le Pin (which was first produced in 1979), all of these estates have a long history of fine wine production, going back in some cases before the 1700s. The production levels of these wines is generally higher than California cult wines: Haut-Brion, for example, produces 10-12,000 cases annually, Lafite produces just under 30,000, and Petrus produces 6,000. Le Pin would be one of the smallest-producing of the Bordeaux cult wines, at 600-700 cases a year.