This column was originally published on the Bordeaux Chauvinist’s website, Cquoi ce vin, or What is this wine? He advises on good value wines of all appellations, regions and countries – but he remains a Bordeaux Chauvinist and anonymous, so he can review wines independently.
This is a vast topic, are we talking about notoriety, price, marketing or quality? For most people, both novice wine drinkers and professionals, the perceived quality of a wine is linked to its notoriety and, in the end, its price.
This reaction, while normal, is in no way justified.
To convince you, just do the following experience of tasting the same wine in four different bottles, with connoisseurs and novices.
Choose a good quality wine (Divinus from Château Bonnet, served at about 9 degrees) and transfer this wine into three different bottles, the labels of which will be “notoriety”.
For example: A bottle of Chantegrive castle, one from Château Haut-Bailly, one from Château Cheval Blanc and of course one from Divinus.
The bottles well-seen, start your tasting with the most “modest” wine in notoriety, ask your guests to comment on the wines and make a ranking according to their preference … Prompt the tasting by subtly pointing out the (supposed) increasing quality of the wines…
Unsurprisingly, at the end of the tasting, the best will be Cheval Blanc (Saint-Emilion 1Er Grand Cru Classé A) or Haut-Bailly (Grand Cru Classé) for lovers of Pessac-Léognan!
So what happened? Most of us are blinded by the container and not the content, we very often taste with our eyes and forget to taste with our heart, not even daring to express our real emotions and/or feelings.
We make a world on the necessarily extraordinary quality, of a Mouton Rothschild, Romanée Conti, Vega Sicilia, Sassicaia… Often, we are disappointed by these “great wines” we have idolized, adored, and desired, and sometimes they do not live up to our expectations, so we prefer to remain silent for fear of appearing ridiculous in the eyes of the “connoisseurs”!
So what is a grand or great wine?
Notoriety and price mean nothing, only our deep feeling must guide us in our choices.
As my sommelier teacher used to say: “A Grand Wine is a wine that gives you emotion, it does not explain itself, it is shared”