Paying more than lip service to value for money

 Cien Y Pico Tintorera Doble Pasta 2007

When choosing quality wines, don't rely on the price to be your guide.

Two things wine lovers ask of a wine: first, is it any good? Then, what does it cost? But it gets harder when this is followed by, is it good value for money?

There are high-quality wines that sell for, let's say, $50, that represent great value for money. Then there are wines costing $10 a bottle that don't. "Cheap" and "value" are often confused and are not synonymous, although it's great when they converge.

Not all high-priced wines are necessarily worth the money, although taste and high price are obviously in the nose, mouth and pocket of the beholder.

Take, for example, Penfolds Grange: do I think the current release is worth $550+? Absolutely not, even though I accorded the last vintage tasted blind - the '04 - 94(95)/100.

But the value of Grange goes way beyond normal modes, Grange has history, lineage and an almost, insatiable international "collector" demand that renders its pricing almost irrelevant. Would I buy it, even if I could afford it? No: I'd sooner buy a dozen and a half of the Cien Y Pico Tintorera Doble Pasta 2007.

Tintorera, or Tintorera Garnacha, is a red-fleshed and red-skinned black grape: a so-called teinturier. It is, in fact, a cross of Garnacha (grenache) and petit bouschet.

The wine is produced by Aussie couple Zar and Elena Brooks, along with a business partner from each, Spain and Italy. Now for the tricky part. They've also made a sister (or brother) wine called Knights-Errant. It is considerably more pricey, at $58, by virtue of the fact it was a separate block selection and matured in expensive oak barrels: so there is logic to its elevated price. I also rated it 94(95)/100 also and would still say it delivers at that price. But for obvious reasons (hopefully) I believe its sibling is better value.

Of course, adding to the notion of value is the heinous wine tax Australian wine lovers must pay. Australia is the most highly taxed significant wine producer nation on earth. But that's a discussion for another day.

Tim White Wine - Australian Financial Review