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Late night thoughts on the context of wine and value

Late night thoughts on the context of wine and value

Someone asked me today if I thought that a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma County could ever truly be worth a £1000? At the time I said that I doubted any wine, on pure objectivity, deserves that sort of price tag. At the end of the day we are dealing with grapes. And yet, the more I have thought about this question today the more I realise that objectivity is far from what wine is all about. It’s all emotion and context.

I’ve  never been to Sonoma County. In fact I haven’t even been to the States yet (although I am exploring the Big Apple in a couple of months time!). However how do I value wine?

Many times I’ve enjoyed a bottle of Camel Valley Sparkling wine. Sure it’s just a £28-£30 bottle but each bottle of this wine has conveyed value of greater meaning than its price tag.

Many of you will know that Camel Valley White Pinot Noir Brut was what drove me to go and do my first interview with someone in the wine trade back in January 2015. I went to chat to Sam Lindo, the head winemaker, and I am convinced that day changed my life. I had always wanted to be a journalist and yet a five hour train journey there, two hours in the vineyard when it was nothing but canewood, tasting those gorgeous English wines and that inky red Rondo for the first time, before another three hours at Bodmin train station and three hours back home again, and I knew I wanted to be in the wine trade.

How can I value that bottle of Camel Valley in the same way as I might the bottle in Waitrose I stacked the week later during my Saturday shift?

Skip forward two years and we open a bottle of Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rose Brut over Christmas 2016 with my parents to celebrate the news that Niamh and I have got engaged. There I’m drinking a glass of wine I know all too well – raspberries, strawberries, light and zippy – and yet here none of that tasting note matters. In that moment it’s about sharing happiness and the future with the people you love and a toast of a fine wine.

Was that bottle worth £1,000? Perhaps not, but the moment was certainly worth a great deal more than that.

In the end, money is a value that is different to everyone. £1,000 is worth a great deal more to most folks than a millionaire who earns that in a morning.

But even I would say, despite never having visited there yet, that the right bottle of Cabernet, with the right friends, in the right moment… that’s worth a great deal to anyone.