Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Bottled Wisdom: Forget the Label-The Proof Is in the Drinking, Writes Roger Scruton

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Bottled Wisdom: Forget the Label-The Proof Is in the Drinking, Writes Roger Scruton

Article excerpt

In my youth, when the god of wine fitst claimed sovereign authority over my life, it was unusual for good wine to be marketed. Official classifications existed, dating back to 1855 and beyond, which made it somehow disreputable to rely on a winemaker's self-opinion, or on the slogans concocted by his advertising agent. Wine had to stand the test of time, just as statues, sonnets and symphonies did. And nothing was more vulgar than a wine that jumped from its bottle crying "Drink Me", like the potions in Alice in Wonderland.

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That dignified way of trading has now been swept away, and no one is more to blame than the Rothschilds, owners of the two greatest chateaux in Bordeaux -- Mouton and Lafite--and who might have been expected to remain mute behind their wall of profitable reticence. Combining the name of their Mouton chateau with an allusion to their title, they stuck the brand on very ordinary Bordeaux, so doubling its price. Mouton Cadet is a wine to avoid, and ever since its appearance the word cadet has stuck in my throat, as an obstacle to anything asking to be swallowed in its name. So, confronted with a wine calling itself Chateau Cadet for the October wine club, I was half tempted to put it in the Women's Institute raffle, and opened the bottle only out of a sense of duty to our readers.

In fact, the castle has been called Chateau Cadet for many years; moreover, the wine it produces is an example of Cotes de Castillon at its most plump and plummy, a beautiful, Merlot-based elixir worth every penny of its price, and with plenty of backbone to support its further development. …

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