One of the biggest concerns of customers in our store is the price of wine. Many people come in after a trip to France or Italy and are discouraged by the fact that they see $19.99 price tags on wines they drank in Europe for a few Euros. This is not because we are making huge margins at Liquormart, and it certainly isn't the fact that the winemakers are getting paid any premiums for shipping their wines here. The reason is the multi-tiered system that rules the wine industry. An estate in Europe must sell its wine to an importer. That importer then sells it to a distributor, who sells it to the store. Often the estate has to pay a negociant to make the wine available to importers. With everybody getting their substantial cut, it is small wonder that the wines double or even triple in price from the estate to the shelf.
Is there a way to combat this? Not always, but one person does it the right way. Enter Denver's own Philippe Sevier. He owns some vineyards of his own in Europe. He also visits other small estates that make wonderful wines, and brings them to Colorado, acting as importer AND distributor. He even delivers the wines himself in his van. When other distributors host trade tastings they do so at restaurants, museums or art galleries at considerable expense (ultimately born by the customer in the store). Phillipe hosts trade tastings in his dining room, with dozens of wines lined up on the table, a few assorted cheeses to enhance the flavors of the wine, and an occasional treat from his delightful wife's oven. He knows everything about every wine, so it is a very valuable experience for all who attend.
Not only do his methods keep prices very reasonable, but he gives small estates an opportunity to showcase their wines...and many of these wines are very, very good. They grow grapes in the same terroir as the more expensive, well known estates, and have similar winemaking techniques. They can avoid the techniques of mass production that enable the production of hundreds of thousands of cases of wine, and also diminish the flavor and character. The result is a great wine for a great price.
Sampling Sevier's wines is like taking a tour of Europe, and it doesn't feel like a low budget one either, until you hit the checkout line. If we start in Bordeaux, chateau Carbonneau delivers vibrant black fruit flavors with earth, cassis and spice. This is an every day dinner wine for $9.99. Chateau La Croix Bonnelle from St Emilion, shows surprising complexity, with rich dark fruit, earth and spice. One of the most expensive wines in his portfolio at a whopping $16.99!
When looking for crisp, minerally vibrant whites, one may forget Bordeaux and Sevier is there to remind you of these great bargains.
Traveling next to Cahors, we come to the birthplace of Malbec. Although most people think of Argentina when they think of this grape, it originated in France and is one of the grapes found in red Bordeaux. Cahors are primarily Malbec with a little Merlot or Tannat thrown in. They are more structured and less fruit forward than the typical Argentinian example, and more complex. Sevier has two, and they are excellent – Chateau St Sernin ($13.99) and and Chateau Nozieres ($12.99), both are bursting with ripe plumb, black cherry, cocoa, vanilla and spice. Next time when you think of Malbec, give one of these a try.
This is just a small sample of Mr. Sevier's list of wines. Burgundy is represented and he really does the Loire Valley in style. Wines from Chinon, Bougeuil, Anjou, Muscadet, Sancerre and Vouvray are all found on our shelves and are all fun to try, with not a single one over 15.99!!! The Rhone Valley is not forgotten either. So come in the store and ask for me. Let Philippe Sevier and I take you on a tour of France. First class accommodations at Supersaver prices.