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My 2024 rules for buying well anywhere in the World.

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Our goal is the same; Glug proves high quality wines can be made for fair prices while you seek to buy well.

Experts tell us quality wine is about balance yet never point out that balance also applies to assessing the quality and the price which now are often out of balance.

Here are two wines in balance on both scores. My Saturday offer did not sell out and there are still six cases of the Broken Slate Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2021, part of the five-star winery hoard, while the new Andrina Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2022 is also perfectly balanced.

Learning how to buy well will provide a lifetime of satisfaction.

To buy and drink well was not easy in the 1970s yet is harder now as the price between the good quaffer and a great drink has moved from two to three times to far higher multiples.

Not surprising then so many consumers just give up and pay-up. Then again perhaps they believe in today’s wine nonsense.

To be a smart wine buyer you need to absorb two big picture points.

The first is simple as 50% of the flavour comes from the climate-weather. Fruit ripens and vegetables grow yet this yields a significant clue as this means wine regions will rarely have a natural boundary. 

What is the difference in quality between Coonawarra and the nearby location called Wrattonbully? None that I can see. When you expand this thinking across the globe its apparent good wine can come from anywhere and it does.

Since 1973, Marlborough, New Zealand, has moved from a joke about displacing sheep, to 43,000 hectares of perfect vineyards. The wines are sensational with prices so fair they surely shock other globally pretenders and make those from the old world like Sancerre and Pouilly Fume (France) way to expensive.

We do not stock Marlborough wines, try instead the Borderland Flocking Galloots South Australia Sauvignon Blanc 2022 at half the price.

Now the other 50% of flavour is about capital. So, a favourable location, perhaps Bolivia, Georgia or Serbia, will not make great wine until they have quality vineyards, equipment and winemakers.

To further help in building your big picture here is my check list when buying and can be used in any country:

1. Buy wines from economically advanced countries where the bargains will be found in less popular regions-Texas not the Napa Valley.

2. Avoid all fads and fashions such as natural wines, organic and biodynamic wines, cult and personality wines, and wines favoured by younger people as they embrace trends and sweetness, also odd, shaped bottles and similar novelties, and be careful of wines with strikingly, imaginative label designs. The object is to drink well not support a cause.

3. Higher not lower alcohol is safer as alcohol is a sure guide to sufficient flavour.

4. Be wary of wines from all marginal cool climate places as the risk increases the higher the latitude. If you must buy, then select from a vintage which was abnormally warm.

5. When flirting with new countries, use the benchmark of the varieties you know. Fortunately, the spread of winemaking expertise means Eastern Europe to Asia-minor is safer than a few decades ago.

My travels brought me to the warm country of the Adelaidean Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia because the 14 districts create the best value for money ratio in Australia. With careful searching you will find world beaters for under $20.

Two from Glug show the way, Bengalee Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018 and Trennert McLaren Vale Shiraz 2020.

So, Drink Widely Drink Well

David Farmer

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