Hey! Oh! Is this nonsense over? No, it’s only starting. The prices of certain wines are beyond the limits of the genre. It would be good to return to a little more consideration for the amateur. Be careful, he could just get bored, that one.
I have always believed that there was no reason at all to prevent a winegrower from becoming rich from the fruits of his labour. That this increasingly rare privilege was not reserved to footballers, charming singers or Californian computer wizards. The rise of big, impossible prices is shaking this conviction. The fate of the most expensive bottles is also a source of irritation. Here again, there is no question of judging those who speculate on wine. They can do what they like with their bottles and if they consider their cellar to be an asset, that’s their business. The problem lies elsewhere. First of all, in the frenzy that has taken hold of some of the vineyard players to produce wines at stratospheric prices without these prices being justified by the small size of their plots or the prestige of their appellations. What to think of Hervé Bizeul’s new Pinot Noir with its strange name: “Ah, the world is so beautiful that it is necessary to post someone here who is capable from morning to night of not stirring” (this is the name of the cuvée, yes, yes)? 360 euros a bottle, that leaves one in awe. Compared to the price of a Chambertin from Trapet (350 euros), one does is not amazed at all, one totally laughs . What can we say about these unknowns from Champagne who release a 777-bottle cuvée at 1777 euros per bottle to celebrate the record number of goals scored by an unknown (to me) footballer? Should we burst out laughing or find grotesque this Bordeaux winemaker who launches a vintage at 30,000 bucks a bottle? This self-proclaimed legendary Loïc Pasquet? Who is this legendary stranger? Who are we kidding? Where is the next raise, like in poker? Plus 10,000 or plus 100,000? I will be objected that they do what they want with their prices and that if they manage to sell them, good for them. Yes, no doubt, but too bad for the industry and too bad for the image of French wine amongst the younger generations and abroad. And I am only talking about direct sales prices. Auctions are another matter, see below. Of course, it is not these bottles that make us wine lovers envious. I buy (and I drink) Herve Bizeul’s Pinot Noir, but the other one, the one at 30 euros, and I am very happy with that. On the other hand, when I see on such and such sales site an Auxey-Duresses signed by Jean-Yves Bizot and priced at more than 2,000 euros a bottle, I choke a little. Let’s see his basic Burgundy. From 500 to 900 euros. Ah. The prices charged by Lalou Bize-Leroy were already annoying me. It was 80 euros for their generic Burgundy. We thought it was a lot, but well, probably justified by the immense talent and fame of the lady. Of course, I suspect that the wines don’t come out of Bizot’s at these crazy prices. I’m sure that there is a sector that is completely out of control, that plays with wines and brands for its own profit, without any concern for the image of the said brands and, no more so, for that of Burgundy. This sector is driven by an eccentric demand which plays with money like others play with jacks. We are beginning to hear here and there that there is a risk of Burgundy bashing just like what happened in Bordeaux. Without pushing the issue so far, one can fear a diversion of amateurs’ interest for these great wines with prices worse than inaccessible, simply obscene. Or should we give in to the sirens of lucre, buying to resell after a few years of conservation? A careful follow-up of the auctions, especially on the Idealwine website, an example for the world, can make the eyes of those who have a few pennies to invest and who do not know what to do with them shine. It is an option. Regrettable, certainly, and far from what makes our passions change constantly, but it is audible. There is an audience for it. It is said that a new billionaire hatches every day. That this newcomer wants to adorn himself with the statutory feathers of great wine, fine. Auctions of mythical bottles are made for him. For others, it is an opportunity to adapt the composition of their cellar to their changing tastes, to transform a bottle into a case, to get rid of a wine that is no longer of interest in order to acquire twelve bottles that are exciting. For others, it is an unhoped-for opportunity to get their hands on great wines at a very low price, Sauternes being a good example. We can also remember that each French or European wine region hides marvels at fair prices that thrive in the shadow of the great wines to the delight of wine lovers. Mercurey, Givry, Rully, Marsannay, Irancy, Fixin, the Hautes-Côtes in Burgundy. Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage in the north of the Rhône, some Ventoux and Luberon in the south. The Loire in the broadest sense of the word, from the Côte Roannaise to Sancerre and the Muscadet area. The so-called satellite appellations in Bordeaux. Others, again and everywhere, in Alsace of course and, increasingly, in Languedoc and Provence. So many promises of endless pleasures, of endless discoveries. What a relief, we are not condemned to abstinence.