“So, when I pay £10 or £15 for a bottle, what do I get for my money? What is it in that bottle that justifies the extra cost?”
This was a perfectly reasonable question posed at a talk I had been asked to present to a group of local businessmen and women. There are a few obvious answers of a more nebulous nature; market forces, quality of the vintage - general sort of background information. Then there is what goes on that we don’t see and therefore perhaps do not appreciate both in terms of physical effort and, less easy to define, philosophy, if that doesn’t sound too poncy. The best way I can illustrate that is to reproduce a modest chunk of a newsletter that arrived in the middle of December summarising the challenges of 2014 in one vineyard.
“At the end of August, I met a fellow winemaker at a supplier we both use. He was all tanned: his face looked calm, he was clearly in good shape. He said, “Hi Christophe, how are you? Did you see the vines? Not ripe and plenty of rot; I just got back from 3 weeks’ vacation and it’s a disaster, it’s sickening.” I replied “Me? No vacation, we worked all summer like crazy: pruning bunches, reducing leaf cover and everything is ripe and healthy.” In his eyes there was a blank stare and I could see him getting mad; he replied, “The cemetery is full of people like you.” He turned and walked away.
It is certainly hard to accept for others, but I cannot bear not doing everything possible to obtain the best wines. In my case it’s more a state of mind, it is a philosophy of life and it is called a job well done. Never give up, care for every detail, even when they have no immediate effect, constantly question what you are doing and always believe there is a better way, without losing sight of the core values of our winery, based on truly sustainable agriculture. This implies never forgiving oneself for mistakes and making every effort to correct them. Of course this is a little strange in these times when people say we have to take it easy, but one can never change! My motivation in life is the quest for excellence.”
Illustrate this with 2011 when the climate threw many obstacles at him. Forward growth in spring, rain when not required, not enough warmth here then excessive heat there, grey rot - contained - then “sour” rot - also beaten off - uneven ripening, forensic selection of individual grapes at the press house… you name it, Christophe dealt with it all. The result? “This was a superb vintage for whites and rosés and a very good one for reds. Of course, because of all the sorting the harvest was small, but this is the price of quality.” We opened a bottle of his “simple” 2011 Côtes du Rhône a couple of weeks ago (purely in the interests of research and quality control, you understand) and were amazed at its depth and style. I wonder how well his indolent neighbour performed….
That, my friends, is why some wines can and should command higher prices than others. Now, who is this driven man who seldom rests and whose perfectionism sends his neighbours bonkers? It is Christophe Délorme of the Domaine de la Mordorée with holdings in Lirac, Tavel and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhône, whose wines, as our regulars will know, we have been banging on about for years. Christophe’s reputation is very highly regarded worldwide and his wines, even his least expensive are all on allocation, but we have been able to amass an extensive collection of current and past vintages, particularly reds, for you to tap into.
These are hardly day-to-day, budget hoovering - they are much too special for that - but now you know why. Nor, however, are they crazy prices if you look at what you pay for even modest Claret or Burgundy, so if you want something for the weekend, sir, a birthday bottle, or you’ve had a shitty week, worked like stink and damn it, you deserve a treat, Domaine de la Mordorée will see you right and put a great, big smile right across your face.
Domaine de la Mordoree - Available Wines
2013 Cotes du Rhone Rouge - please enquire
2012 Cotes du Rhone Rouge - please enquire
2012 Lirac Rouge "La Dame Rousse" - please enquire
2011 Lirac Rouge "La Dame Rousse" - please enquire
2012 Lirac Rouge "Cuvee de la Reine des Bois" - please enquire
2011 Lirac Rouge "Cuvee de la Reine des Bois" - please enquire
2009 Lirac Rouge "Cuvee de la Reine des Bois" - please enquire
2012 Chateauneuf du Pape "Cuvee de la Reine des Bois" - please enquire