By DELBERT HORROCKS
That price is no guarantee of quality was proven at a recent Viognier tasting (White wine grape pronounced VEE-OWN-YAY, but maybe not in Newfoundland.) where a lowly $14 Chilean took down two $85 French giants of the Viognier world along with a $63 Australian.
European wines often don’t fare well in blind tasting with new world wines, primarily because of what’s known as a new world palate, where you go “petouie!” every time you try a European wine which are always too dry for you,
Even those with high brow European palates had trouble defending the two $85 French wines, which despite coming from an area called Condrieu, aka Viognier World Headquarters, tasted like a bad kit wine laced with oak extract. If you paid nine bucks, you’d ask for change.
It’s been a long time since France declared war on Canada, but this should about do it. Oh, oh. Incoming French knives. Duck everyone.
For a similar tasting experience, I have to go back 30 years to the Vancouver Wine Festival where a brilliantly coloured Spanish white tasted like liquid oak. Gently, very gently- no need to have a bottle of Rioja bounced off the noggin- I brought up the problem of excessive oakiness with the winemaker.
He just shrugged it off with, “Our white grapes don’t have much flavour, so we add oak to give it some oomph.” Thanks to the modernization of Spanish winemaking, such wines are harder to come by, but over at Condrieu? Sacre bleu.
Defenders of Condrieu say it’s difficult to understand. That’s why, if you’re dumb enough to pay $200 for one at a restaurant, make sure grief counselors are standing by.
Even harder to understand, and from the same area, is Hermitage Blanc, which, despite a $300 price tag, is made from Marsanne and Rousillon, underperforming grapes which should only be played late in the third period if you’re up eight to zip.
How do they get away with those prices? Scarcity, that’s how. Condrieu is a small area where only so much wine is made. (To which some of us are thankful.) Scarcity also explains why a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB will fetch 37 million bucks while a mid-eighties Ford Taurus will fetch, I dunno, your slippers.
No one understands scarcity better than a used car salesman, guys not afraid to ask more for a used car than a new version of the same vehicle. Let’s shuffle on over to Honest Bob’s Auto, (Serving you honestly since, let’s see, how long has it been now, okay, last Tuesday.) where Bob is explaining economics to the couple with the matching sun visors and fanny packs. (If you ever see me in similar outfit, just shoot me. Aim low.)
“That’s a damn good question,” says Bob, an agreeable smile on his clean shaven face. “Why is this 1984 Ford Ranger worth $19,950 when you can get a new one for seven grand less. Well I’ll tell you. Exclusivity. Where else are you going to get an 84 Ranger, in this condition, with exactly 384,567 miles on it? Can’t be done.
“Not only that, but look at this dent in the front bumper. That’s not an ordinary dent. Ya gotta hit the liquor store just right to get a dent like that. Hit her too slow, ya bounce off. Too fast and ya set the store alarm off like last time.”
While his wife kicks the tires, the potential customer- or as Bob puts it, “latent victim”- starts nodding his visored head, a motion not dissimilar to a dippy bird pecking the ground in search of a good laxative. “Look at this rust patch where the rocker panel used to be,” Bob says. “Now that’s exclusive; none of these Ford Rangers rust the same. You could look at one thousand Rangers, and you won’t find this exact rust patch.”
“The paint’s faded? You’re telling me the paint’s faded? Hell no, that ain’t faded, that’s distressed. Big difference. You can get faded at any car lot, but you only get distressed at Honest Bob’s.”
Feeling it’s time to close, or as Bob calls it, execute, he lowers his voice, leans in, and with all the fake sincerity three years in reform school, and a brief stint as a Condrieu sales manager, taught him, says, “Folks, this is your lucky day. We’re going to throw in an extended, unlimited mileage warranty, which covers everything right down to the air in the tires, free of charge. (Okay, so driving off the lot renders the warranty null and void, what do you expect for nothing.)
“Not only that, I’m throwing in two lime green I SHOP AT HONEST BOB’S ball caps, a $19.95 value, which will keep a lot more bird shit off your heads than those STUPID, @#$%&, VISORS!”
That’s the problem with shopping at Honest Bob’s, sometime you get more truth than you can handle.
For those who want to learn more about wine and less about used truck pricing, contact Gord Johnson at 250-751-4171, a professional wine educator who conducts informative tastings for veteran and rookie alike. As a tune up, here’s a couple of affordable Viogniers to practice on. From France, the Paul Mas, $13.99. From Chile, the Cono Sur at $10.99.
– Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House. Read more at Slightlycorkedandmore.wordpress.com