Up close, personal — and pricey

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:


Entrance to the Greater Daglan Area’s best wine shop.

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:


Stacks and racks of wine stretch out throughout the store.

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:

Petrus 1

The Pétrus bottles are lined up by vintage. This was the cheaper section.

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:

Petrus 2

The bottle on the right would set you back 4,750 euros.

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.

This entry was posted in Life in southwest France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Travels in and out of France, Wine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Up close, personal — and pricey

  1. Sam and Jill says:

    Chuds, when I lived in San Francisco in the 80’s, I took some of our advertising firm’s best copywriters and art directors out to dinner to celebrate a victory (ironically on the Gallo Wine account). There was a small elegant restaurant where I lived in Sausalito. After a bottle (or so) of “regular” California wine, they dared me to buy the party the Magnum (4/5th of a gallon) of 1970’s Petrvs behind the bar. Being a young account guy who wanted to impress my friends, I bought it, without asking the price, and we consumed it. When the bill came, I started hyperventilating…the bottle was about $1500 as I remember. They all laughed, patted me on the back and left me, the bill and the restaurant. It took some of my career’s most creative expense account reporting to hide that one.

  2. Great story, Sam! Thanks for that. And many congratulations on your expense account management!

  3. John Ison says:

    Loren … I agree with your comments about the LCBO, almost. It carries a great selection of wines from every corner of the world (well, at least at Queen’s Quay and Summerhill) but a pathetic selection from every corner of Canada. Good BC wines are very scarce. Odd? PS. Have you heard about the new LCBO on Danforth? Four times the size of the old store near Broadview.

  4. John, I certainly agree that the selection of Canadian wines at the LCBO needs a lot of improvement. And I’ve always been struck by how expensive so many Canadian wines are, in Canada. Here in France, it seems that French wines are much more reasonable. And by the way, no — I hadn’t heard about the new store on the Danforth. Certainly it was time for a change!

  5. David Solan says:

    Very Interesting Story. And great pics too! It’s amazing how much bottles of 1996 Petrus are going for. This wine seems to be out-of-reach for most people…


  6. loren24250 says:

    Thanks, David. Yes, for sure this wine is only for true wine lovers with truly large (huge) bank accounts. As readers of RFD know, my wife and I do enjoy fine wine and fine dining, and are prepared to pay. But 4,750 euros for one bottle, of anything? I don’t think so!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.