Thursday, September 29, 2005

New World Wines v European Wines

I'm amazed at the amount of awful cheap and overpriced wines being consumed in the UK.

The UK is the largest importer of wine by value in the world. It is a key, if not primary, target export market for most wine producing countries, but particularly Australia and the United States. The UK consumer has access to an unrivalled range of countries of origin and varietals with the bulk of sale controlled by the major UK supermarket chains. UK consumption of wine has been increasing at the expense of beer, with per capita consumption up by 40 percent over the last ten years. Red wine consumption has now overtaken white wine, which is thought to indicate the maturity and increasing level of knowledge of UK consumers. The UK wine consumer profile has changed little in recent years; generally he/she is over 25 and in the upper middle/middle class (classified as AB social grade) and are drinking more frequently, particularly at-home.

At the cheaper end of the market we now have glorified grape juice mainly from Australia and the U.S. that probably is made in huge quantities and goes from grape to bottle faster than it takes to produce a battery chicken (from egg to supermarket in 6 weeks ! )

At the higher end due to overpricing at both end of the supply chain, customs duties, tax etc. The top US and Aus wines are over priced and not good value.

The best value in my humble opinion for every day drinking and outstanding pricier wines are to be found in France and in regions like Languedoc- Roussillion, Cotes de Provence and Rhone. New wine makers often not French, adoption of modern marketing techniques and passion are awakening the sleeping giant.That is not to say Bordeaux , Burgundy and Alsace should be ignored the best of the best is still to be found there.

When it’s fully awake the New World is in for a serious hiding!

Don't believe me! Try for example the range of Côtes Roussilion wines produced by Hėrve Bizuel Les Sorciēres retails at under £10 and his top of the range Le Clos des Fees at over £30 is sublime. He has a great web site in English and French (click on the title of this post to go there) as well as a Blog (the link is on the site). Wines are tough to find but Oddbins Fine Wine outlets tend to stock them before they fly out of the door!

I spent my summer holidays in the Var not far from Draginaugn where I had not only the well known rosés but great Roll based whites and superb Cabernet Sauvignon bended not only with the usual partners but also Syrah. More about this in a forthcoming post.