A new book has recently created quite a stir within the wine community. The Wine Trials by Robin Goldstein examines the difference between expensive and inexpensive bottles of wine, arguing that the inexpensive bottles are often "better" than the expensive ones. Goldstein came to this conclusion based on a study of 540 wines tasted blind by 500 volunteers.
Eric Asimov has done a solid job arguing against this approach, pointing out that while some expensive wines are not as good as some inexpensive ones (take a bad California Chard at $40 compared to a Vinho Verde at $10) the price of a wine in most instances aligns with the quality of the grapes, the land, and the winemaking practices. Asimov also argues that the popularity of a wine (as determined by 500 volunteers) cannot equate to the quality of the wine.
Aside from taste, the quality of the wine for me does not necessarily have to do with price, but rather with history. I like drinking wine that has an interesting and long story behind it (I am after all a student of Anglo-Saxon Literature!). Perhaps this is one reason why I prefer Burgundy to California Pinot. That is not to say that California Pinot is "bad," but rather that the history and complexity of each vineyard in Burgundy says something to me. It excites me! Take the Vosne-Romanee 1er vineyard of Cros Parantoux, for example. Just read the history of this vineyard according to the Burgundy Report:
The renown of this vineyard can only be associated with one person; Henri Jayer. After the second world war he single-handedly cleared the one hectare of overgrown scrub, rocks and even vegetable gardens to plant the vines. Despite sitting directly above Richebourg, pre phylloxera Cros Parantoux had a poor reputation (Lavalle), on the same level as other vineyards that are today classed as ‘villages’. The ground was hard to work and so, post-phylloxera, this poorly rated piece of land was little replanted. Jayer, saw something and piece by piece bought all the separate plots from their then owners. Jayer did not not really reach the heights of winemaking until the 1970’s, probably due to a mixture of finding the best approach and finally the vines coming of age - or at least the earlier wines don’t seem to exist anymore for comparison. Parantoux today has two owners/exploiters; Méo-Camuzet and Emmanuel Rouget through his retired uncle by marriage, Henri Jayer who we sadly lost just before the 2006 harvest.
This is just cool! It also gives value to the wine and therefore makes the wines that come from this vineyard more expensive than most Grand Cru bottlings. But, if you ever get a chance to try some of it, you will understand why.
I urge you to think about the history of the next bottle wine that you drink. It will taste better; I promise!
By General Admin
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