Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where The Values Are

I was thinking about some of the wines we have which are downright deals in today's market. What makes a wine a deal? Well, a wine of good quality with some interest that sells for a reasonable price. So what is a wine with interest? Sometimes it's easier to define something by what it isn't. For example, we sell a lot of malbec to a lot of customers. The price is very good on malbec, mostly under $15 with a few better wines around $20 or perhaps a little over. Malbec is an easy wine to drink and enjoy, it's full and round and soft with plush fruit flavors. I have to confess that I don't take many bottles of malbec home to drink. For me it just doesn't have a lot of "interest". By that I mean that the flavors in the mix for malbec are about fruit and toasty, buttery, vanilla flavor aspects from an oak barrel. They don't generally have non-fruit flavors that are from the grapes and soil. Think, spicy, earthy, herbaceous and you know what I mean.

What I see with a lot of people is as they drink different wines, and drink wine more frequently they start to gravitate toward wines with more complexity and interest. That doesn't mean the wines are more expensive or that folks are getting snooty, it's just a move toward a different style. Cotes Du Rhone is a good example. We sell a lot of it and the wines are some of the best on the market for full-bodied, moderately priced wines with good complexity and interest. They also tend not to be over-oaked, which is a good thing. However, over the years prices have creeped up and it's been harder and harder to find good Cotes Du Rhone under $15.

The good news, however, is a place in France that uses many of the same grapes and has been a source of real value and quality improvement. I'm speaking of the Languedoc. It's west of the
Cotes Du Rhone, along the Mediterranean Sea, and it's become a place of real value for several reasons. Many skilled winemakers have bought land there because it's more affordable than say, Burgundy, Bordeaux, or the Rhone, and the soils and climate are very good for fine wine production, going back to Roman times. In fact, we have found many wines of real honesty, character, and interest at great prices. The grapes are similar to many that you would see in the Rhone, grenache, syrah, carignan, and mourvedre, but there are also many exceptions. Think of these wines as wilder, spicier, and more eccentric friends of other southern French wines you know. I have a photo of some of the wines here. The names unfamiliar to some. You may see a town name like Minervois, or a more regional name like Coteaux du Languedoc, or even a generic Vin de Pays d'Oc designation. Don't be shy, there are some real values here, as always ASK US! We love to sell wines we like and we want you to be really happy.

Michael

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