Tuesday, 6 September 2011

What is Wine???

A couple of weeks ago I sold a case of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2010 for €12600. The wine was sold 'En Primeur' ie it is still in a barrel and will not be bottled until next year, then transported to the customer.
In the same week I sold 56 cases (12 bottles in each case) of Domaine Moulin Gimie Merlot 2009 for €1545.60.(for 672 bottles) The wine is an excellent award winning merlot (Gold Medal in Paris for the last few vintages).
The one case of 12 bottles Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2010 costs eight times the pallet (56 cases) of very decent, ready to drink Merlot. They are both red wines, they are both created from quality vineyards and cared for by people who actually give a damn. Put it this way the Lafite Rothschild is 456 times more expensive than the Domaine Moulin Gimie Merlot.

I love wine and I love the wine trade. I have worked in and around the wine business in Australia, South Africa, Germany, Portugal and France for the last 24 years. But the gap between the rich and poor is becoming even larger. Perhaps this is a reflection on global society in 2011? Perhaps the top Chateaux in Bordeaux are being too greedy?

The reason for this post is that I live in the wild hilly countryside of the south of France. An area called the Minervois within the Languedoc Roussillon. We are close to the beautiful Mediterranean sea, we are surrounded by magnificent olive groves, vineyards and wild aromatic garrigue. We benefit from over 300 days of sunshine per year. We are very lucky.
But the vignerons and wine producers are finding it very tough here. There are constantly mergers between the large un viable state supported Co Operatives. Some of the smaller growers have to find a very specific niche to sell their wines. There are more and more patches of vineyards that have been abandoned, which is a great shame.

Whilst I live here in the Minervois with my family I seem to do more and more work in the Bordeaux region (a 4 hour drive). Bordeaux has the historical connections with Northern European trading markets. Bordeaux has the old advantage of the port (unfortunately no longer used for wine). Bordeaux has many many beautiful Chateaux that produce stunning wines that will age for 20,30 or even 50 + years. Bordeaux has the class and structure to support their existing market and to further develop this market.

I adore both areas, but it is increasingly evident where the money is!

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