Reassuringly expensive vs suspiciously cheap….

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Where’s the line between good value and suspiciously cheap? These are two questions I wish I’d asked myself in detail before handing over money to the builders we’ve employed to refit our bathroom. Of the quotes we got it was hard not to be lured by the most affordable, especially when they came recommended by friends. Now in week three of a one week job we’re still without a bathroom and I can’t help thinking Mr B and I have been screwed.

But what’s to say if we’d gone for the pricier guys we would have got a better service or had a better experience? Logic would suggest that parting with extra cash would have left us with a better taste in our mouths and possibly a room in our house that resembles a bathroom. But, as with wine I suspect there is a plateau; pay a decent price, get a decent result and a warm glowy feeling inside that paying that little extra was the right choice. Tip over that line and you’re into a territory of genius marketing and greedy margins a predicament I found myself in at the duty free shop the other day. The £50 bottle of anti-stretch mark cream for my pregnant tummy with it’s beautiful packaging and healing words was encouragingly expensive and lured me into thinking if I bought it I was destined for a Jessica Ennis six pack in months. I didn’t buy the cream so perhaps I’ll never know, but my guess is that reassuringly expensive doesn’t always pay dividends.

When it comes to wine I’m an advocate of one simple principal; paying a fair price. There’re a lot of ‘reassuringly expensive’ wine examples out there but falling for them doesn’t give you knowledge or taste, it just gives you a big receipt and maybe a few new friends. I believe with wine a fair price doesn’t mean expensive, some of the best quality wines in the UK today are between £8-£13. Fact. Of course affordability is as subjective as wine itself. Something that was never more apparent to me in my whirlwind tour of Chile the other week where the owner of a winery I visited explained how his helicopter was surprisingly affordable. It was only US$400k. That’s more expensive than the average house price in the UK. I didn’t tell him I don’t even own a car!

Regardless, every one will have their own reassuringly expensive plateau, for some it will be £8-£13, for others it will be a lot more but one thing is for sure there are occasions when only reassuringly expensive will do like at Christmas time or when buying a gift. Depending how deep your pockets are here are two wines that I think fit the bill:

Domaine Brocard Chablis Premier Cru 2009, Burgundy, France, £12.99, The Cooperative

I’d normally have put this is in the suspiciously cheap category because Premier Cru Chablis under £20 is difficult to find, under £15 is almost unheard of. But having tasted it and knowing the producer to be a reputable one this wine is way more than good value, it’s a steal. Like lemon pie in a bottle, it’s fresh, zesty and classy. Everything you’d expect from a Chablis Premier Cru with the exception of the price!

Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru, Les Blanchot 2009, Burgundy, France £59.99, Liberty Wines
Chablis Grand Cru is the top rung of the Chablis ladder in terms of price and quality. Some though do fall into the clever marketing bracket and are all price and no substance. This one has the price but it has the wow factor inside the bottle too. I was sent this bottle by Sopexa so didn’t part with my own £60 for the privilege but it was a dreamily creamy chardonnay with an elegance and minerality only top Chablis’ can achieve. A treat for any wine lover.

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