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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

Taking a Break with a Brisk Italian White

Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex & de la Salle Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle Valleé d'Aoste 2010

James Molesworth
Posted: August 17, 2011

It never fails. Every year, in July and August, as I approach my deadline for my annual Rhône report, the samples just seem to come in faster than I can keep up. There’s a two-week stretch right near the end where I have to taste two flights a day, every day, to get through them all.

At the end of it, I need a palate cleanser, a vinous pick-me-up. I stopped by Barcibo, one of my usual neighborhood spots, and this bracing white from northwestern Italy’s Valle d’Aosta DOC fit the bill perfectly.

Produced by a cooperative of growers from the communes of Morgex and La Salle, the Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle bottling is made from the Prié Blanc grape (called Bernarde in the Valais region of Switzerland where it is also found). This wine provided a nice, bracing beam of lemon zest and fleur de sel notes up front, with citrus oil and floral hints on the finish. It was brisk enough to cut through a day’s worth of red Rhône tannins and lively enough to match well with a bowl of cured olives and selection of crostini. 88 points, non-blind. At $11 by the glass, it was easy to order a refill too.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Italian whites, along with our quick list of Top Values.

Louis Barash
New York, NY —  October 8, 2012 6:58pm ET
It has come to this: $11/glass is seen as reasonable for a wine that can be bought in a nearby shop for $16/btl. And that's not atypical of the markups on this place's list, they are charging $9/glass for a wine that costs $9/btl retail. Wine prices have reached absurd levels. To compound it, the markups in restaurants are at all time highs.

At Locke Ober's in Boston, they have their 1939 wine list on display. A bottle of 1926 Lafite was $4.50. That's about the price of the most expensive entree on the menu at the time. Today, a thirteen year old Lafite (say from the 1999 vintage -- drinking well, but not a classic like 2000) is going to set you back $1,000 or more in a restaurant (it is $1,155 at Veritas in New York), many, many multiples of a single entree in any restaurant.

I can't criticize the market; if that's what people are prepared to pay, so be it. I understand that a wine bar like the one mentioned in the article needs to make a meaningful return on every glass it sells, and that some people justify such markups as reasonable compensation for the "expertise" of the shop's buyer. But I find I'm drinking less, and drinking far less in restaurants, than ever before. The value isn't there and I think that eventually wine prices, and six-figure sommelier's salaries, are in for a significant correction.

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