Wine geeks indulge or abstain …

Wine geeks? I think I just invented that; better copyright it … A wine geek, to me, is the guy who grabs the wine list in the restaurant whether he’s the one who’s paying or not, and orders the most expensive bottle of wine. Anyway, what I was going to say was that the French […]

Wine geeks? I think I just invented that; better copyright it … A wine geek, to me, is the guy who grabs the wine list in the restaurant whether he’s the one who’s paying or not, and orders the most expensive bottle of wine.

Anyway, what I was going to say was that the French weekly news magazine, Marianne (it is at, has chosen the 10 best wines for 2008. It is the fourth year now that the magazine tastes wines for its “Marianne of Wine” list. In the accompanying article, Eric Conan and Périco Légasse say that we’ve become “drinkers of labels”; in other words, we drink what wine geeks have told us we *must* drink, and not what we’ve tasted and know is good.

The most expensive bottle on Conan and Légasse’s list costs €40 ($61:₤31.50) so maybe wine geeks should abstain because cheaper wines can be good too.

I’m not going to give you the list, but first on their list is a Chablis from Domain Grossot of the village of Fleys (pop.134) in the Yonne county. A bottle of the domain’s Chablis 2005 or 2006 costs €8.40 ($13:₤6.60) I don’t think that’s expensive. And neither is Corrine and Jean-Pierre Grossot’s ‘Fourneau 1ere cru 2005’ at €12 ($20:₤10).

There is also a champagne on the list. It’s Champagne Drappier and the ‘Carte d’Or’ costs €20 ($31:₤16). Sixteen quid or the odd 30 dollars for a bottle of champagne you must admit is inviting indeed; at that price champagne can become a habit.

The €40 bottle is Gewurtztraminer cuvée ‘Laurence 2004’ from Domain Weinbach in Kaysersberg. Yes, Kaysersberg is in France, in Alsace that was once German and then it became French again and then Hitler annexed it yet again, but currently it’s French. It’s a beautiful bottle; tall, slim: you would want to keep it and put a candle in it afterwards!

Speaking of wine geeks: When President Sarkozy paid an official visit to Poland end-May he gave the Polish president two bottles of millésimé cognac; year 1713. Yes, 1713. But, and oh the buts of life, these were from Domain La Fontaine de la Pouyade in Bassac and … the domain was fined in 2006 for false claims about the origins and quality of their cognac …

Meanwhile, the government, concerned over binge drinking among the young (teens, late-teens, early twenties) plan to ban the ‘happy hour’ and the ‘open bar’. The ‘open bar’ apparently ‘encourages alcoholic bulimia’. (I don’t quite know what this means; does it mean you drink as much as you can, put your finger down your throat, bring it all up, and start all over again?) The government also intends to slap a tax on alcohol of a higher degree than 6%. There goes whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka etc for you. Opponents (bar owners etc) say that such a tax would be counter productive; it will only take the problem elsewhere. As it is, they say, the big drinkers are already not the ones who drink in bars, but at home having bought their alcohol at the super-markets.

All I can say is that one does not see drunk young people standing on the sidewalks here in Paris, bottles and glasses of alcoholic in their hands, as one does in London these days. Go to the Covent Garden area after 6pm and you will be able to witness this for yourself.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

4 Responses to “Wine geeks indulge or abstain …”

  1. 4
    Silly Yak Tales Says:

    I usually don’t buy wine at all. The red wines make me ill and I am just not a big drinker of anything. However, the one Champagne I like, whicht is fairly inexpensive is Cordon Negro. I will have a glass of that at New Years.

    All of this is totally unlike my days of being 18 (sign) when we used to buy Cracklin Rose or Baby Duck for a couple of bucks and party on. No wonder I was always feeling drippy after those days.

  2. 3
    Jo Says:

    I would take issue with you about wine “geek” Marilyn, more like wine “snob” if they order the most expensive on the menu without knowing anything about it.

    We rarely spend much over $18 Cdn. for a bottle of wine (except when we bought two bottles of Malivoire Pinot Noir at $38) but generally the wines we drink are all around $10-$13 a bottle.

    The Henkell Trocken (German) sparkling wines cost us $9.99 for three small bottles which just fill a champagne flute each. We sometimes buy a Hillebrand (Canadian) sparkling wine (can’t call it champers, doesn’t come from Champagne) which we find an excellent drink but that is fairly expensive. Not heard of the Drappier, don’t know if one can get it here, probably to expensive if we could.

  3. 2
    Satima Flavell Says:

    It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun. Nor do you have to get drunk to have fun. Good company and one or two glasses of a pleasant wine, even an inexpensive one, are all it takes:-)

  4. 1
    Johann Waters Says:

    Drappier I do not know, but the Chablis I’ve bought several times and it is an excellent wine. I can highly recommend it as well.
    Johann Waters

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