Thursday, 25 June 2009

All the more for the rest of us

French wine is becoming less and less popular. And it's not just the cheaper end of the market where the French are suffering; some New World wines are commanding unbelievable prices. It's a global phenomenon too. For the first time ever, the Argentinians are selling more wine to the US than the French.

It's apparently all down to New World branding, grape-led labelling, consistency of product and bigger, more obvious flavours.

Presumably, then, French wine is too authentic, has too much provenance and individuality, and its flavours are too subtle and interesting.

This trend seems to run against that found elsewhere in consumer products, especially food and drink, where in recent years authenticity and provenance have become powerful selling points.

Rotten for the French, isn't it? But all the more of the good stuff for the the rest of us (especially those chilled bottles of Fleurie - is there any liquid more delicious?)


Gadjo Dilo said...

"Fleurie - is there any liquid more delicious"? Hmm, don't know, maybe not, but on my recent holiay I once again sampled my favourite: the bone-dry, very slightly salty Spanish "fino" Manzanilla.

worm said...

all these things (like everything in life) are cyclical. A couple of years ago nobody wanted to touch wine from spain italy and portugal, and now their the hottest thing around for more discerning wine drinkers.

Personally the country that I think is the most criminally underrated is Austria - their Gruner Veltliners are how I think all white wines should be, and are certainly the kind of wine that would blow away any casual pinot grigio drinker with their accesibility! And yet how often do you see Austrian wines on our shelves?

Brit said...

Being a fierce patriot I only ever drink English wines. Eye-wateringly awful taste, of course, but the tears I shed are for Old Blighty.

Sophie King said...

It's been that way for a while with French wines. Interestingly, having had their moment in the sun, the Australians are now over-producing and can't shift a lot of the second-rate stuff. The Kiwis have gone off the rails with their Sauvignon Blanc in particular - again over-producing and too much of it tasting like cat's piss. I'll stick with France where I can but it's increasingly hard to find any quality provincial wines that don't bust the budget. Even the supermarkets think that charging nearly eight quid for a bottle of Macon is OK. It's not.

Totally agree with you, Worm,on Austrian wines. Their reputation took a long while to recover after the anti-freeze debacle but they are gradually re-emerging in the independent suppliers. The Italians too are beginning to up the supply of quality, good value wines - if I were to spend £10 on a bottle today, it would more likely be on Soave than Chablis.

Finally, Gaw, If Fleurie is your thing may I also recommend two Loire reds that are delicious slightly chilled: Saumur Champigny and Bourgueil.

Gaw said...

Gadj: The Spanish must have thought us very peculiar keeping old sherry around the house for years.

Worm: my father-in-law is Austrian so I've been lucky in tasting quite a few Austrian wines. Gruner Veltliner is great - especially drunk with some roast goose in a Heuriger! The reds from Burgenland are very good too, not too heavy.

Brit: But Nyetimber in Sussex is supposed to be as good as Champagne, I gather. Could be crocodile tears? Mind you, probably the most underrated drink in the world - even more than Austiran wine - is English real ale. Hooknorton and Timothy Taylor reach heights that most wines can't. It's quite an amazing product the more you think about it. But we tend to take it for granted like a lot of remarkable things in Britain.

Sophie: welcome! I've had so much wine I've found unpleasant from the antipodes that I now actively avoid it. The NZ sauvignon's full description I believe is 'cat's piss on a gooseberry bush' and never has a hyperbolic description of wine been more accurate!

French prices have gone up markedly in the last year or so. I've assumed it's been down to the exchange rate and the rise in duty?

Re the Italians, I remember Valpolicella being sold in massive bottles for bugger all when I was young. It's now relatively expensive. I wonder if it's a lot better? I agree, Soave's very pleasant. Have you tried Sicilian whites? There's a place nearby that stocks them; they have a sort of lemony flavour and light olive oily feel which is lovely this time of year.

Thanks for the chilled reds recommendation. Having worked my way through Beaujolais, I'll certainly try them next time I do the shopping!

worm said...

sicilian whites are great - I've been getting stuck into a very cheap 'grillo' which I would rate above any aussie wine at the same price (about £4.50 a bottle!)- it leans more towards the chardonnay style, but is far lighter and more complex than the flabby cheap aussie chardonnays