Domaine Raynier, Saint-Chinian 20112. France
Did you know that HM Government snatches the first £2 from every bottle of wine you buy in the form of alcohol duty? It's £2 per bottle, whether the wine costs £5 or £50, but there's an additional 20% of the total price that also goes their way in the form of VAT - and that's another 83p from a bottle costing £4.99. So from a £4.99 we're left with around £2 to play with, but that has to cover the cost of bottling, labelling, shipping and both wholesaler and retailer profits. How much is left to pay the man (or woman) who grew the grapes and made the wine? Well, in a £4.99 bottle a recent investigation suggested it was as little as 15p. The highest estimate I've seen is around 60p. The question is, what quality of wine are we actually getting when we pay just £4.99 for a bottle?
Remember the duty element is fixed at £2 per bottle, so for every extra pound that you spend, a higher proportion of it goes on wine, not tax. The new target for me is a minimum of £5.99 - maybe even £6.99, but this week I have found a very modestly priced example from the Languedoc in the south of France that has really hit the spot for just £5.75. The Domaine Raynier comes from one of the top areas for red wines, St Chinian, and is a wine made from traditional varieties of the region like Syrah (Shiraz), Carignan and Grenache. It has rich and creamy black fruit aromas that are inviting, a little touch of elegant cherry and kirsch too. In the mouth it has deep, soft, black berry and plum fruit, nice soft tannins and good balance that make it both easy to drink and give it wide food-matching credentials. Do watch my video for much more detail on the wine and for specific food matching ideas. It costs £5.75 from The Wine Society.