I am just finalising the next Bullion Cellars selection with Kim Bickley, one of the nicest people in the game by the way. Great palate, great wine knowledge and a fantastic person to boot!
However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Fair.
We were going to select a Merlot from the East Coast of the US (Long Island) but at the last minute the importer told us the producer had shipped the wrong stock, and what he thought was Merlot sitting in his warehouse, was actually a Cabernet.
Oh well, I suppose all those Sideways fans out there will be spared the task of drinking a Merlot. A shame really, for the wine was sensational
One of the reds that will be in the pack is a great wine from the Rhone Valley in France and it kind of dawned on me that this is now my favourite red wine region. (Except of course for Priorat and Ribera del Duero in Spain.) Oh who am I kidding! I don’t have a favourite region, but I do love the wines from the Rhone Valley
2011 Mont Redon Lirac – Southern Rhone
Lirac is a village just West of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the wines can be just as good, at a fraction of the price.
Of interest this is the only wine we have repeated in one of our Sommelier Selections. (Matt Dunne of Aria chose the 2008 Lirac three years ago).
As I was thinking about the Rhone and what great value this Lirac is, it got me thinking about pricing and how arbitrary it can be.
Wine pricing is really about supply and demand, which is why I realised most of my “smallish” cellar contains a lot of white wine.
My kids call me a cheap skate, but I like to think of myself as a value conscious consumer. (For that reason I love shopping at Aldi, but that is another story and another blog)
It is pretty hard to justify the price of a bottle above $50 on quality alone. (There are only so many grape and winemaking costs you can factor in).
Red wines have a greater demand at higher quality so these are more expensive. Where as the demand for high quality white wine is less, which is why they offer better value.
Grand Cru Riesling from Alsace and Germany can be purchased for under $100. Top Chardonnay’s from Australia can be purchased for under $50. But top Reds can be over $200 and reach up to $2000. The same works at all price levels. A $20 white wine offers greater value and quality than a $20 red wine. In my humble opinion anyway.
But back to Lirac!
There is a huge demand for Chateauneuf-du-Pape and so the producers can charge what they like. But for Lirac, there is not the same demand, so the prices are more realistic and in some cases the wines can be just as good. Happy days for us!
The 2011 Mont Redon Lirac is a blend of Grenache / Syrah /Mourvedre and they have put it in this sensational bottle with a moulded logo on the neck. As a side note, if you are someone that selects wine purely on the label, my suggestion is to choose by the bottle. If they have a special bottle with their logo included in the glass, they have gone to a lot of effort and cost, so they must think the wine is bloody special. And the Mont Redon is!
It has everything I look for in a wine, great quality, seriously good winemakers, established vineyards and great value.
When you look at the Rhone, you need to split it into the North and the South. The South is all about warmer climate Grenache based red wines, and the North all about cool climate Shiraz / Syrah.
However sticking to my Aldi cheap skate premise, they produce some amazing white wines at a fraction of the price of the reds. So look for wines from grapes like Marsanne / Roussane/ Viognier.
A few months back I was fortunate to attend a tasting put on by one of the larger importers. They represent one of the great producers of the Rhone Valley – Guigal, who are based in the North, but also do a great value Cote Du Rhone from the South. However it is in the North where they really shine.
They have three flagship wines, generally referred to as the (La La’s). Three single vineyard Shiraz based wines, which are at the peak of the Cote Roite pyramid and really began the world’s fascination with Shiraz / Viognier co fermentation. (Red and white grapes fermented together to create a wine of great elegance, structure and power).
I got to the taste the 2010 vintages and these are seriously great wines, but bloody expensive, again due to supply and demand. They are made in tiny quantities when you consider the world wide demand. (La Mouline – around 5000 bottles , La Turque around 4,800 bottles , La Landonne – 12,000 bottles).
If you ever get the chance to drink or taste some of these wines, you will not be disappointed, even in the poorer vintages.
If you are interested, my favourite of the three is La Mouline, which has a higher percentage of Viognier in the blend (11%), which had a more elegant palate and this incredible length. But then I would happily drink all three, if I could find them, or afford them.
Do yourself a favour and try a bottle of wine from the Rhone Valley the next time you are in a restaurant or bottle shop. Who knows, it may become one of your favourites too. But then there are those Spanish Regions and their sensational Grenache and Tempranillo.
Matt the Bullionaire