Jimmy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra made the phrase famous in the beautiful song, I’m Glad There is You by Paul Maderia, “In this world of over-rated pleasures, of under-rated treasures.” This phrase from a moving love song well defines the world of wine today. Big pointy overrated wines give little pleasure while underrated and often underpriced wines may lack points, but are packed with pleasure.
A couple of such underrated treasures are:
The 2004 Lignères, Aric, Montagne d’Alaric, a blend of carignan, mourvèdre and syrah that is sure to be on the underrated charts. This is a big and delicious wine, concentrated, exotic and satisfying. You wonder why you have to pay so much more for wines that deliver concentration - then fall over the edge into dull flabbiness. Concentrated flavors on their own are boring, but wines like this lead with power then expand, while so many of today’s wines lead with power - then collapse - just holding on long enough to get their points from critics more concerned with the front of a wine than the back.
Then there’s wines with catchy names like the 2007 Bastide Saint Vincent, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, a blend of grenache, caladoc, carignan and syrah from Domaine Guy Daniel. Warm, earthy and completely satisfying, this is a wine you can tell inspired passion on the part of the winegrower far beyond any hope of getting big points or big bucks for his efforts. Living as I do among so many producers focused on glitter rather than substance, wines like this are an inspiration. More-and-more I find myself drinking less-and-less famous wines.
Sadly price has become a less than reliable indicator of quality. Most expensive wines having become caricatures of good wine. Like the exaggerated portraits drawn by street artists they focus on a few characteristics and blow them out of proportion. As the caricature artist exaggerates noses, chins and ears, too many winemakers exaggerate oak, extraction and alcohol to make a wine that is a comic image of what it should and could be - something to have with dinner.