Let’s call it the grand vin culture.
For decades, the push has been for ever-more premiumisation (hate that word) in wine. More super cuvée releases, more barrel selections, more single block, single clone, somehow better wines.
In Bordeaux, it means 2nd, 3rd or even lips ‘n’ assholes 4th wines. In California, ever rarer barrel selections at ever stupider dollars. And in Australia; veritable oceans of super premium reds with prices no longer grounded in COGs.
I’m talking about wines apparently made for positioning and posturing than drinking. Wines where no real human actually buys them full-priced, but they’re released to keep up with the Joneses. Or, they’re priced to make the rest of a range look cheap by comparison. What a dicky false economy! One that basically says ‘forget delivering value for a drinker, we’re making a luxury good’.
Penfolds, I’m looking at you.
Actually, Penfolds is a poor example because it has the name, history and status to (mostly) pull it off, even with a Chinese export hole in the world.
Instead, I’m really looking at the next layer below, and a legion of brands pining for the Pennies money with the aspirational pricing to match.
I hate aspirational pricing.
But enough gear-grinding about the loss of ‘value’ in wine. Let’s instead talk about this Juxtaposed Shiraz; a red which is the perfect illustration of how premium drinks don’t need to be very fucking expensive.
Much like the Grenache, this Dodgy Bros Juxtaposed Old Vine Wait Vineyard Shiraz 2019 both over-delivers and is underpriced.
It takes Vale Grand Cru level fruit – the Sandy Corner Block on the famed Wait family vineyard at Blewitt Springs (Google the other Shiraz wines made from this plot), made in a contemporary mode, and delivered with excellent packaging.
Unlike so many $100+ Australian super cuvée, it’s also delicious. Old vines + old oak gives this a high-toned cola nut and blueberry perfume, the palate moderate yet ripe, mouth-filling and powerful, purple fruit on silk sheets, the tannins late (and not from a bag).
This is McLaren Vale Shiraz for a mod-Grenache lover, with vibrancy and drinkability as its core mode. It’s Shiraz for drinking out of shitty glasses at a byo and realising that the bottle is empty, rather than an ability-to-win-trophies-at-international-wine-shows obviousness. Yet with the clarity and depth that you only find in Very Good Fancy Wine.
As Dodgy Bros winemaker Wes Pearson said to me in an email the other day ‘IMHO fine wine does not have to be expensive wine. Just ends up that way often’.
Not today. Not with this $37 modern-day steal.
Best drinking: now to ten plus years. But don’t wait. 18.7/20, 95/100. 14.5%, $37. Dodgy Brothers website. Would I buy it? Who wouldn’t? You should have bought some already.
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I couldn’t agree more AG. The growing disparity between COG’s and the sticker price is at least aspirational if not deluded.
It occurs to me that the most interesting wines in the “natural” movement fall somewhere in the high $20-$60 price point. Very few can command a price of over $100. Henschke, Cullen, Standish… and very few other locals. Whereas the wineries that have “labs” for making wine can produce a clean cookie cutter style wine and whack a 3 figure price on it. Yes this is safe though soulless wine-making and it may also bring accolades at accredited shows. (see what i did there?) I’ve even heard legend that one of the major Australian wine-makers has a team whose main job is to attend Royal Society wine-shows and study the award winners in an effort to emulate them in their own cellars. Art vs Science.