Great Alternatives to the Classics
Thursday, 13 July 2017

Great Alternatives to the Classics


Why is it that Château Latour, Margaux, Petrus and Mouton-Rothschild scoop all the mega awards when supposedly lesser wines struggle? Are they finer wines? Well yes, but clearly the name counts a lot.


The value of wine is a mystic equation that would send Eisteins brain into a spin. Part of it covered by productions cost – equipment, barrels, land, packaging, transport, storage and selling. However, you also have the elusive star factor: Is this wine iconic, unique, special and how many people want a splash of it? Is it Château Cheval Blanc or a petit Château? Wine Sellers have made a fortune by charging premiums for these iconic wines. Think about the famous names in wine, Chablis, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo… What do they mean to you? A lot of the time, the name tells you very little about the wine (not even the grape variety). It might be the name of the village or a region rather than the grape or the quality of the liquid. Alongside price, the key information is what flavour to expect, who made it, what year it is and whether it goes well with the meal you are having. Frankly, you can forget everything else.


Take Sancerre – It is named after a French Village in the Loire Valley famous for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world with pinging, super fresh verve. Now if you are a Sancerre fan but want to save a few pounds, grab Sauvignon de Touraine from just down the road – a glorious white wine poised between the Loire and Marlborough, and it’s good value for money. How about Sauvignon Blanc from Waterford Estate Elgin in South Africa, Leyda in Chile or Tasman Bay in New Zealand. Each of these regions produce a unique style but each is linked by a zesty, joyful, upbeat freshness that makes Monday feel more like Friday.


Drinking top end wine can be a mine-field but there are ways to treat your taste buds without hawking the family jewels. Some supermarket shelves are littered with bargains, and how to look for them is the key. Sometimes famous wines have neighbouring vineyards that offer similar quality at a snip of the price. For example, if you are looking for a Puligny-Montrachet costing around £50, try the neighbouring vineyards of Saint-Aubin for around £20.


Remember it is always what is in the bottle that counts.


Happy Hunting!


Xavier Le-Bellego


Forbury’s Restaurant and Wine Bar