Wine Talk

Snooth User: duncan 906

Affordable French Wines

Posted by duncan 906, Feb 19, 2011.

I did enjoy Gregory Del Piaz's article on this subject.I am a Brit who visits France about once a year and usually hits a supermarket in or near Calais on the way home.l frequently buy Cahors.which I like and not only because it is cheap and I have never found it too tannic.I also often buy Corbierres,an appellation not mentioned in the article,but which is also very good value for money.It is also the largest appellation in France and produces some very nice wines,blends of syrah,grenache,mourverde and carrignan.I still have my receipt from last year's French trip.and can report that I paid one euro 15 for a bottle of Corbierres and one euro 35 for a bottle of Cahors.I paid two euros 40 for a bottle of Cotes du Ventoux,a grenache based red from the Southern Rhone,and five euros 15 for a bottle of Cotes de Blaye,a merlot dominated right bank claret.I did also buy some more expensive wines,paying ten euros 47 for a Sauternes,the legendary white desert wine from Bordeaux,seven euros 95 for a Medoc and eleven euros 30 for a Cotes de Nuits Villages,a particularly beautiful Burgundy.

Replies

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 20, 2011.

1 euro and change for corbieres?  Really?  I mean, I know it's part of the wine lake, but there are some decent wines and at that price... I've also seen some values in CdVentoux, but that's also stunning.  Yow.  I think it's time to move.  Must polish up my French.

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 20, 2011.

Why do you think they're still cheap when they get to the States, or even Japan? They were a lot cheaper when they started in France....

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 20, 2011.

I expect them to be a bit cheaper over there.  But that's a HUGE difference.  I mean, I can score some good CdV for a little more than ten bucks, but 2.40 Euros is what, $3.28? That's a deal.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 20, 2011.

Sub 3 Euro a bottle at a supermarket as opposed to direct from the winery means the grape grower is getting sub 100Euro a tonne for grapes, you can't be making any money even with French Govt Agricultural subsidies.

We have carried out extensive research on sustainable wine pricing and any wine red or white that is sold in a 750ml bottle for less than GBP/USD/AUD/Euro 5/bottle is generally producing losses for wine makers and grape growers.

1.35Euros is just madness and only the retailer and the consumer are in front!!!

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 20, 2011.

As a consumer, sounds good to me. ;-)

And I suppose it's as good a use for all those French tax Euros as most any other....

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 21, 2011.

True us conumers benefit - but only at the bottom end - the price of GC Burgs and 1st G Bords keep heading into the stratosphere of the rich and famous!

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 21, 2011.

The money we save by drinking the CdV rather than 1st Growths and DRCs can be invested in businesses that then can milk the remainders of all that Chinese excess after the Bordelaise have done their worst... ;-)

Who was it that actually laughed last during that scare period at the end of the '80s when the Japanese were snapping up the Rockefeller Centers, Pebble Beach and Montecito Country Clubs, LA skyline, etc.?

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 21, 2011.

and who was it?

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 21, 2011.

The developers, et al. who sold the seemingly blue chip properties for obscene prices first round. Then the scavengers who came in and paid 20 cents on the dollar and bought the properties back after the initial Japanese purchasers hit the rocks a few years later.

Not sure exactly how this can translate to wine markets, with the Bordelaise, auction houses, et al. maintaining value, but it certainly will work with other markets the Chinese are involved in overenthusiastically....

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 21, 2011.

The Chinese are rumored to actually be drinking the wine.  That will drive down the supply in the future secondary/resale markets. Scavengers can buy the empty bottles, but not sure how that relates to buildings, even when the tenancy rates have dropped.

Shows how new they are to the wine game, actually drinking the good stuff.

Weird how the French subsidize wine and USA et al tax the crap out of it.  My question is, at those prices per ton, who harvests the grapes?  Everyone knows California's dirty secret, but what's France's? Itinerant workers from former colonies?  Cali's non-documenteds put up with violations of law to avoid deportation, but France's "foreign" population largely has legal protections, don't they?

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 21, 2011.

In many (most?) cases they're drinking in situations and food combinations where the best of the wine's nuances don't come into play. Again, as discussed in other threads, the bottles are social badges rather than items of true connoisseurship.

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Reply by amour, Feb 21, 2011.

Thank you , duncan 906 !

Have you bought anything from the good old Wine Society?...or no need to go there!!!

Corbierres remains cheap, and more than merely tolerable....I have always seen it in shops across the USA.

Regarding your Cahors...I have had some good vintages of

Clos COUTALE and Chateau Chambert....were you able to try

any of them?

Finally, your Sauternes....I am always impressed with

 Chateau La Faurie Peyraguey, and I am suggesting it to

you...various vintages...I am having the 2006 at this moment... with foie gras. ....Heaven !  So well harmonised and mellow....!

Hope to interact with you often, as I love to keep abreast of the wine scene in England...I do miss Berry & Rudd Brothers (St.James)! 

 CHEERS!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 21, 2011.

dmcker:  What a great way to display your wealth:  Guzzle 4-digit bottles of wine with the wrong food.  Sounds like the robber barons of the early 20th Century.  Alas, it was ever thus.

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Reply by duncan 906, Feb 21, 2011.

Most of my wine collection has come from

 1/Trips across the channel

2/Visits to the annual London France Show

3/ www.bidforwine.co.uk.

 Most of the wines there are French and many are very expensive but there are sometimes bargains to be had

I realise that some of what is on sale is so cheap because of the lunacy of the EU Common Agricultural Policy but some of my taxes go towards it so I feel quite happy being able to get some wine at low prices

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 21, 2011.

Foxall

It is so true

Car enthusiasts rarely get to drive Ferrari's et al

Wine enthusiasts rarely get to drink 1st growths or grand crus

Art Lovers rarely get to own something from a top level artist

These treasures sit in the homes of rock stars, quarterbacks, chinese executives/CP aparachiks, oil barons and the like.

Some things will never change

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 25, 2011.

SH: Might be I will never taste an great vintage of a first/grand cru, although you have encouraged it.  But it doesn't mean I haven't had the best wine there is:  It's impossible to say that the 1sts would outtaste less expensive wines if tasted blind.  (I've got later vintages of some Napa Cabs in the basement that proved the point once before...) And the difference would likely be lost on me.  I'm not crying, too much.  Most of what I enjoy about wine is who I share it with.  The goal is to drain the cellar's last bottle on the day I die.

Art?  Yeah, I would love to own a Picasso.  Or a vanGogh.  But, ulike wine, we can look at those in museums.  There are fabulous artists that aren't well known, and in some cases aren't well-known yet.  But Picasso and VanGogh, those guys really had a genius for knowing what was essential to convey what they needed to in a painting or drawing.  I spent 6 weeks in Europe going to every Picasso museum I could get to.  Still wasn't tired of him, and still haven't seen Guernica.  With those guys and the other greats, nothing could be taken away or added that would make their stuff better.  I did work for a billionaire who started collecting modern art as soon as he had money, and collected some people who weren't as famous as they are now.  (Lichtenstein was one, although well known already he had not reached his apogee.)  Don Fisher kept the art in our workplace, or a lot of it, and I really got to enjoy it, as I was raised in museums of modern art.  He's since donated it to SFMOMA, so it will be available for so many to see.

Not a car guy, couldn't give a rip about driving a Ferrari.  My wife tells me if I want a Tesla roadster, I can have one--that's a pretty neat car--but with no garage (I live in a very old home on a small lot) it makes no sense. 

Don't get me started about guitars, though.  I think I don't play well enough for the stuff I have, and I see people who play a lot worse with collections they have no business owning.

So, not sure which is more offensive:  guzzling the wine and not appreciating it (except as an act), or sticking it in a cellar and hoarding...

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Reply by duncan 906, Feb 26, 2011.

Dear Foxall,

             Like you I have never had a Premier Cru Claret or a Grand Cru Burgundy as I just could not justify the cost and I believe wines are for drinking rather than collecting.If you look around it is possible to have some very nice wines at modest cost.Secondly,your lack of ability to speak French would not be a problem in Calais,as it is virtually the only town in France where all the restaurant menus are in English as well as French and where all the restaurant staff and all shop assistants,including the check-out operaters in the supermarkets,can and do speak fluent English

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Reply by Greg Tatar, Feb 27, 2011.

I don't know - I'm not sure I mind them guzzling it.  In fact, I kind of like the fact that they mix Lafite with Coke - it has to be appalling to those who put the wine on a pedestal and genuflect before it.  To me, putting out a wine and charging over $1000 a bottle is a far worse thing for the wine world than the fact that someone drinks it with Coke. 

In their own way I also think those drinkers very much do appreciate the wine - they are seen and known to be drinking something quite expensive and desired by others. I'm not sure all the other people who buy it have any real clue either.  I.e. the Russian oligarchs, Wall Street guys and ballplayers, and even the run of the mill lawyers, doctors and people with a few extra dollars to spend.  I drink fairly often with people who have plenty of wine but unless they see the label, they have no idea what it is they're drinking.  When they do see the labels, they can't tell a badly corked wine from a cooked one from a bretty one from a good one.  I think I mentioned one time on this forum the story about this guy bloviating to his friends about the Haut Brion they were drinking and the wine was corked to smithereens.  I had to get a new clean glass and they were loving it.  The power of suggestion is amazing.

I certainly don't drink First Growths and such on any kind of a regular basis - or any basis really - but having had a few, I'm satisfied that I'm not really missing a lot by not having them all the time.  If you take the labels off, the wines aren't nearly as interesting. 

There's some really delicious wine made all over France.  I'm not sure how to define "affordable" as it means different things to different people, but there's certainly very good wine made that you can pick up for say, five or ten euros, and really good wine for twenty or thirty.  Beyond that it's like anywhere else - you start paying for labels. 

I did try a Carignan from the south about a year ago.  It may have been the best Carignan I've ever had.  Problems are that it's from a low-prestige area and it's from a low-prestige grape and it's completely unknown as it's a fairly new winery and it would be heading toward $100 retail in the US.  In other words it's a non-starter, although a delicious wine.  I would so love to get some of that and put it into some blind tastings with a few wines from Priorat or CdP that cost much  more. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 27, 2011.

Just to make it clear:  I don't think I said anything myself about my ability to speak French.  Mine's pretty rusty, but I grew up speaking it 3x a week from 6 y.o. to 15, and when I went on my wanderjahr (okay, a few months) in the late 80s, it came back pretty easily.  Best moment:  In Paris, heading up to Epernay later in the day, go into a patisserie and order a piece of quatre quart for a snack.  Apologize for my accent, salesgirl tells me it's fine, I walk back out the door.  American family on the sidewalk then asks me if I speak English, and I reply, "Quite well."  Sadly, I just had to cancel a trip to Paris in April during Passover--I was looking forward to being the only one in my family who understood what was being said at the Seder, for a change. 

I am (again! this looks so sycophantic!) totally in agreement with GregT that folks should enjoy wine, and if they paid for it, and overpaid, so be it.  I would like to find out what I am missing (had a few burgs in the near-ish stratosphere, so not completely out of the loop) but my own inclination would be to taste them blind against some of my favorite non-firsts, California bord blends, and total unknowns.  The power of suggestion is something every child learns about, and every adult pretends to remember.

With all the mystery of yeasts used to inoculate, decisions made about barrels, length of maceration, brix at harvest, blending, etc, it's a miracle we can tell what we are drinking at all without looking at the label.  Making a seven figure income certainly doesn't improve one's palate, especially if you haven't worked your way up to it. 

Good low priced French wine?  WS gave Domaine de Faubregues' 2007 entry bottling 90 points and I had a couple terrific bottles.  I was swilling a $5 Ogier CdR happily for a while (also 2007), have been a fan of Delas' CdV... Didn't I say all that somewhere? 


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