Value Wine

“Value wine”, what does it mean?

There is a lot of talk within the wine industry about “value wines”. We’ve all seen articles and reviews with titles like “Best wines under $20” or something of the like. I intend to pose the question this week of Value wine; what does it mean?

Value of course is a relationship between quality and cost. The fact that there are quality wines vs. poorly made wines is of course not in question. Can we however take the mystery out of the label quality or premium wine? It’s one of the questions I face nearly every day – “how do you know it’s good?”

Let’s be honest, wine quality can be perceived as a fairly subjective product. Everyone’s tastes tend to be different and what one person indicates as quality, another may disagree. I do of course believe there is some logic to be applied here.

For example, when I was wine maker at Therapy Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, we had a bloc of Pinot Gris that produced some excellent wine. As soon as I accepted this job and arrived I realized it was special. My job as the wine maker was to simply let the fruit shine through and basically get out of the way of this excellent juice. This particular block received a great amount of sunlight, had fantastic drainage from rain water and consisted of mature vines. To really bring the quality out, we strictly managed the yield here to ensure the grapes produced the best quality possible. It was a small batch to begin with. Lightly touched during vinification with oak and bang – we won many awards on this wine and could barely keep it on the shelf long enough to get through spring! It also ironically received best Pinot Gris in Wine Access Magazines’ 2008 International Value Wine Awards.

My only point here is that quality wine is not as subjective as it may seem and a number of factors are in play and balanced to produce them.

What do you think? What does value wine mean to you? How do you evaluate when you’ve found one?

Marcus Ansems
Hemispheres Wine Guild CEO and Director of Wine