When you don’t want to pay top dollar, consider sipping the fruit of your favoured vineyards’ less established plants.
We’re back on vaguely familiar territory, I’m afraid (I promise to try and change the record soon). Yet I am, as ever, hoping to offer optimism to drinkers everywhere. A couple of issues ago, I proposed a vague solution for those miffed by the 21st century’s rise in prices for many of their favourite drops. From Lynch-Bages to Léoville Barton, Gevrey-Chambertin to Chambolle-Musigny, there has been an escalating expense to many vinous classics (especially French), as labels are chased to preposterous levels – and there was certainly not much visible slack during 2020, despite covid.
Rhône was my straightforward response to that angst. However, the rather obvious flaw in this proposal was it tended to ignore the ‘taste’ element in the equation, while the greats of Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie were possibly regular cellar purchases anyway. Furthermore, Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s typical 14% ABV is not everyone’s cup of tea. Ergo, not the canniest of suggestions.
Okay, so what if claret is still your one and only? Back in the late 1980s, my first job in the trade was for John Harvey & Sons, aka Harveys of Bristol. Amid the flurry and focus of cream sherry, there was tucked away an old-school wine department – my gig. Here, the great châteaux of Bordeaux held sway, with the jewel in our crown being Pauillac’s Château Latour. Indeed, Harveys held a minority 25% stake in the property at the time (the Pearson Group owned the majority – there’s a thought), so we had unparalleled access to stock and vintages.