A wine of elegance but not fashion – The Property Chronicle
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A wine of elegance but not fashion


This article was originally published in November 2019.

Hermitage is the supreme expression of the Syrah grape, but little recognised – making it a bargain among the Rhônes.

There’s a regular tale of customer woe, familiar to all wine merchants, that goes something along the lines of: “I used to drink the reds of (insert name of posh Bordeaux château/premier cru burgundy here), yet I can now no longer afford them.” The inference being that all vinous enjoyment had come to an end, with the sufferer condemned to a life of Zinfandel Blush from a box, with the odd glass of Madagascan Merlot on high days and holy days.

True, there is a worldwide market that chases certain labels, with an absurd determination to pay whatever it takes. The traditional drinker of top-class Pauillac or Chambolle-Musigny has been elbowed aside; it’s dog eat dog in that marketplace. But all is not lost. When offered the chance to respond to said lament, I have consistently offered the following option: Rhône.

Even the relatively humble appellation of Côte du Rhône can deliver an excellent bottle. And as one trades up through the likes of Vacqueyras, Gigondas, and Crozes-Hermitage, there is outstanding drinking available in the £10 to £20 range (go to Burgundy, and £20 barely grabs you a generic Bourgogne Rouge these days). At the higher end, Châteauneuf-du-Pape has really only gone up in price by the rate of inflation, while Côte-Rôtie’s sublime, perfumed, textures seduce everywhere.


About Mark Roberts

Mark Roberts

Mark Roberts joined the wine trade as a graduate trainee for John Harvey & Sons in 1986. However, rather than piling into the Bristol Cream, he instead found himself based in the wine merchant division’s London office in Pall Mall. From there, he swapped SW1 for NW1, joining Laytons, and then skulked south of the Thames to SE1, Charles Taylor Wines, in 1996. He now works for Decorum Vintners Ltd, which he helped set up in 1999, and where the focus is very much on the offerings of small wine-growers, specialising in France and Italy.

Articles by Mark Roberts

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