A prima donna thanks to a pernickety insistence on marginal climates, pinot noir is not for nothing known as the heartbreak grape. While cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay were strutting their stuff in the New World, pinot noir’s dainty feet remained resolutely planted in the narrow 30-mile strip running from Dijon through Beaune to the Côte Chalonnaise. Call it the Sideways effect if you will, but today the siren lure of its sweet perfume and voluptuous flesh has become irresistible, conquering growers and converting consumers alike in increasingly unlikely locations around the globe.
The staid image conjured up by the name might deceive you into thinking that the Wine Society is some fusty Victorian institution of gnarled sherry and claret tipplers. In fact this no-frills, no-nonsense, non-profit-making company delivers on all the features you could want from a dynamic independent wine merchant: consistent quality, competitive value, adventurous range and unparalleled service. Last month I came away from the Spring tasting itching to put together a delicious dozen at around a tenner. My problem was the self-imposed limit.
I was chatting over dinner at the Bottega del Vino in Verona with Italian wine producers from six different regions when a call came through from London. My editor at The Independent said ‘I want you to head straight to Bergerac in France to cover a scandal brewing about contaminated wine’. I returned to the table and apologised to the assembled Italians, saying I had to leave as my newspaper wanted me to cover a wine scandal that had just broken. “Do you mean the one in my region?” each one asked.
MANY factors determine the price of wine, but it is possible to find wonderful vintages offering value that approximate the world's most expensive wines. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to avoid following the crowd. Anthony Rose raises a glass.
Famous for his rapier-sharp wit,
the 19th century Irish author
Oscar Wilde said that a cynic is “a
person who knows the price of everything
and the value of nothing.” Do I
hear Oscar Wilde turning in his grave?
I don’t as a rule find wine trade reports a riveting read but one line that caught the eye recently was ‘five million people in the UK drink sparkling wine at least once a week’. While I do more than my bit for the statistics, I wasn’t surprised to see that not only are we the biggest guzzlers of Champagne outside France, but that we’re also drinking a lot more affordable fizz from elsewhere.