Yesterday morning we headed out of Daglan to the village of Le Bugue, about 40 kilometres to the northwest, with plans to visit the region’s best known wine shop. Little did we know that we would eventually get up close and personal with one of the world’s costliest wines.
Our destination was the Julien de Savignac (J-de-S) shop, in the part of Le Bugue located on the south side of the Vézere River. We had often visited the J-de-S outlet in Sarlat, but were advised by a friend that the shop in Le Bugue was much bigger, with a lot more on offer. Since we’re planning an Italian-themed dinner for next week, I wanted to buy a few bottles of Chianti or Valpolicella, which are available only sporadically in supermarkets near us.
Here’s the Julien de Savignac shop in Le Bugue where we wound up:
The interior was indeed impressive. Because J-de-S is both a winemaker and a wine merchant, the stock is heavily tilted to French wines — starting with Bergerac-area wines, and then branching out to all the other wine regions of France. There are also good selections of specialty liquors, Champagnes, spirits like single malt Scotches, and accessories such as glass decanters and wine openers. Here’s a look:
As it turned out, the selection of foreign wines was what a former Toronto resident can only describe as pathetic — a few choices from Italy, a few from Spain, a few from California, and that’s about it. (By contrast, any one of the larger liquor stores in Toronto, part of the state-run Liquor Control Board of Ontario system, carries a huge selection of wines from virtually every corner of the world.) Nevertheless, we did buy a few bottles of Chianti, a few bottles of another red from Sicily, and a bottle of Ruby Port. For good measure, we also picked up several bottles of a favourite Côtes du Rhône red.
When we were at the check-out, my wife Jan said she had spotted something at the back of the store that she wanted to show me. “Something we should buy?” I asked. “Uh … no,” she replied quickly. So we walked to the rear of the store to find a rack lined with bottles of — these:
Yes, a whole row of bottles of Pétrus, one of the most costly wines in the world. Pétrus comes from Pomerol, the smallest wine-producing area in the Bordeaux region; it’s made from the Merlot grape and it’s prized by wine connoisseurs around the world because (so I’ve read) the particular soil structure in the area helps develop amazing flavours.
At the far right of the row, there was a bottle of the 1982 vintage. Now check the price marked on it:
Just in case you think you’ve mis-read it, the price as marked is indeed 4,750 euros. That’s just under $5,800 (Canadian) or $5,900 (U.S.). Enough to buy a decent used car or, well, a whole bunch of other stuff.
Now I have to admit that there are times when I’m tempted to make a stupidly expensive purchase, just to see what the fuss is all about. I can assure you that this was not one of those times.
Having loaded our modest purchases into our modest car, we drove across the Vézere and ate a modest lunch at L’Abreuvoir, a pleasant (but modest) crêperie in the old section of Le Bugue. Over lunch, however, I admit that we did wonder aloud just how good that Pétrus would have to be.
I think it would have to be awfully, awfully good.