Out to lunch yesterday with friends who are not averse to something pleasant to drink but don't really know where to look for it (here!!!) so I took a bottle of Grand Veneur's 2009 Cotes du Rhone. This is a slightly controversial wine as it is the "Champauvins" wine but bears a different label. Why? Because, rather naughtily, GV sold me a wine they have been selling me for several years but now have an exclusivity arrangement with another (larger) UK importer. So, to get around this, they put on a different label and add a back label "Selected by The Big Red Wine Company". Not really the right thing here but I know some people in the French trade don't understand the British obsession with labels - as Sebastien Jaume (of GV) asked me, shouldn't we "drink the wine not the label"?
Anyway, the wines are seriously good, whatever label they carry and, frankly, that is all I am interested in. As an online retailer essentially, I have been bemused on more than one occasion to discover a winemaker has decided to change the labels from something that would look attractive on any wine shop shelf to one that requires the wine to be decanted fast. And as for dubious practices, anyone who finds what GV has done here objectionable should dig rather deeper. I suspect there are thousands of similar (and worse) stories to be told, even at some of the wine world's most prestigious names, given my own limited experience.
Anyway, what about the wine? 2009 was a hot year and the wine has a hint of raisin and a lovely warm feel.It's rich and warming with thick cherry fruit and a mouthfeel to match. Looking back at my original notes and the Parker review, this wine has come together brilliantly. I never quite understood why the 2007, for example, was dubbed a mini-Chateauneuf but this one merits the badge. I wonder how many sub-£10 wines can really match this. All suggestions welcome.