16-04-2015

67 Pall Mall and the price of wine

Most people probably shrug off a wine that costs $25 on a restaurant wine list but that they’ve seen for $10 in a store as just a cost of dining out. What you might not know is that the restaurant didn’t even pay $10 for that wine and it was more like $8 or less thus making their markup the rather typical 300%. It’s even worse for wine bars where 400% can be the normal increase.

The ironic part in all of this is that these ratios are maintained no matter how expensive the wine is. So say you’re of the means to enjoy a 1989 Haut Brion for around $1,000 whenever you might find such wines casually in a shop. In a restaurant this could easily top $3,000 or $4,000.

It happens that those with the means to afford such wines didn’t get to that point by being stupid with money (okay yes, minus the Kardashians or Lohans) and there are those within this rung of society that have essentially given up on ordering wines in restaurants as they refuse to pay what are truly outlandish markups.

Thus enters Grant Ashton who is the driving force behind 67 Pall Mall, a new wine club in London. While there is a £1,000 sign up fee and a yearly £1,000 membership fee, the upshot is that they charge prices for the wines that are much nearer to the actual street value. Of course there’s some food to be had as well and it’s all set in the swanky space of what was a former HSBC bank. If I was of such a state of income and in London more often, I’d rightly buy in to it as in various trips to London I feel that the markup on wines exceeds that of even San Francisco or New York mainly due to the common idea among restaurateurs revolving around, “because we can”.

A Financial Times article has more details but it was funny to see how small the wine world is as the director of the wine program is Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn who I had the pleasure of attending sommelier classes from and is someone who I hold in incredibly high regard for wine prowess. And then there was the mention of Nicole and Xavier Rolet being early members in the wine club. While I haven’t met them personally, I know their winery, Chêne Bleu well as I visited it last fall.

But overall, it seems to be a good start in regards to taste, concept, and those interested. Naturally I’ll be keeping an eye from the distance as I’m sure that membership list is already full.

WINES

Álvaro Palacios - L’Ermita 2016
Very light red cherry, raspberry, tea leaves, dried fennel, light touch of anise, bay leaf, dried flowers, touch of fig compote, truffle. Exceptionally light and delicate on the palate, very very fine red fruits, integrated tannins, plush with a slightly buttery, velvety aspect, very long finish.
85% Grenache 14% Carignan 1% "Others" · 15% · 1160EUR
97+ 3 Stars

Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Álvaro Palacios - Les Aubaguetes 2016
Linear plum and dark cherry notes, powdery cocoa, orange peel and blossom, raspberry at the base along with minor vanilla and dark spice touches. Delicate on the palate, light touches of dark fruit, good wealth of tannins yet held in check, medium plus acidity, very long finish. Needs much more time in the bottle.
77% Grenache 21% Carignan 1% Grenache Blanc 1% Macabeu · 14.5% · 455EUR
95+ 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Aquila del Torre - Primaluce 2015
Bruised yellow apple, bit of fig compote, chalky mineral notes, and hazelnut. Light oxidized touches that work to embellish the wine. Rich palate that carries lovely texture with the age of the wine.
100% Sauvignon Blanc · 13.5%
93 2 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Terroir Sense Fronteres - Guix Vermell 2017
Crisp red cherry fruit, touch of spice, flecks of pepper, baking spice, compacted, wet earth. Delicate on the palate, stays fresh, surprising high wealth of tannins, long finish.
100% Grenache · 13% · 250EUR
93+ 3 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars