If you still need proof that wines don't have to have high scores to be interesting, here's one. I tasted this as part of my extensive tastings of hundreds of 2004 southern Rhônes, red and white, on which I will report in full next month. Compared to many of the other wines this Cuvée Julienne didn't score too highly. I gave it 15 out of 20 and suggest that it is drunk before the end of 2007 whereas some other wines are clearly majestic, stately ferments that will repay keeping for a decade or two.
But I thoroughly recommend this wine because a) it is a good drink and b) it is currently being sold by some branches of Asda in the UK for just £5.98 a bottle. It is certainly well worth that. (Apologies for those living outside Britain, but I have not for some time pandered specifically to British visitors to this site, who represent the biggest share, over 30 per cent, of you all. Stocks are disappearing fast so you need to track it down immediately.
Cuvée Julienne is very light ruby with a sweet, warm, comforting nose and very sweet palate entry. It's already round and supple but with no shortage of spicy southern Rhône dusty notes with some fine tannins left. Certainly a bargain!
Here's what Anthony Lacey of Mistral Wines, its UK importer, has to say about it:
As you know, worldwide demand for Châteauneuf began to outstrip supply (maximum annual production 113,000 hectolitres) in 1998 and prices rose in every vintage up until the 2001 and even for good wines in the 2002. Of course, as prices went up, so the growth in sales slowed and total demand starting to decrease about two years ago. Notably, when the French supermarket price for straight Châteauneuf went over 10 euros a bottle, demand in France almost ground to a halt!
As demand reduced, so the bulk price of Châteauneuf eased and then started to go down in the 2003 and 2004 vintages and we can now see that the low point was reached in May of this year, precisely at the moment that Asda committed to a very large quantity with Caves des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (using the sousmarque Leon Perdigal) without questioning other suppliers in the area for fear of disturbing the market and possibly informing the competition of their intentions. They are to be congratulated on getting their timing exactly right and having made such a large strategic decision, which will do their customers a real favour right through to Christmas.
If any of their competitors now wish to match this price, it can only be at the expense of losing money, as the market is now 10 to 15 per cent higher than in May/June.
Go profit from this bit of marketeering – a nice change from profiteering.