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AMA with Pierre Mansour, Head of Buying



Where is the smart money at with respect to the 2016 Rhone EP (apologies if asked already)?


For sheer spectacular scenery probably Priorat- the place feels ancient and untouched- see the pic I took on my visit there a few months’ ago. This is a 100 year old vineyard planted to cariñena. As a wine tourist I think Margaret River is brilliant- lovely wines, by the ocean, bliss….


Wow , that’s beautiful :+1:


Career highlight has to be being invited to blend my own wine from Rioja’s outstanding Contino estate which we sold as Contino 930. When I was buying Australia I felt privileged to set up the Blind Spot range with Mac Forbes.


I spent a few days with Marcel tasting the 2016s and they are delicious. To answer your question, I would go for the 2016 Cornas, Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie mixed case (OC4406 at £180).


It’s easy to make a quick buck (profit!) on a couple of orders with the blue chip wines, many now luxury brands. Fortunately members, like yourself, see through it and trust The Society to sell wines that offer value even when they come from less fashionable regions/names etc.

Gigondas is much smaller appellation with no real big players like in CNDP which means common sense prevails in Gigondas when it comes to pricing. But it’s worth bearing in mind that 2016 was quite a small harvest and 2017 even smaller (across the whole Rhône), so pricing is likely to be quite volatile over the next couple of years.


someone likes Syrah


We have offered Lafite in en primeur offers up until 2013 vintage and have held back some of these to offer when ready for drinking.


I like most things!! Not a fan of sugary liqueurs or cocktails, apart from wine I adore beer…


Ah that’s not really what I meant. What I’m after is advice on how to judge when swilling an immature wine its likely future qualities or faults.

A great wine can be pretty much undrinkable in its youth, what should I be looking our for with decent quality Burgundy? Either to buy or avoid.


By far my favourite part of the job is the people…being an agricultural product, wine attracts people who really care about what they are doing. Umm, highlight of last year, probably getting promoted to Head of Buying at The Wine Society which is a dream come true.!


Thanks for your Rhone suggestion. That mixed case looks interesting but as I have no cellering at home I prefer to store wines at WS and get them out when I want them - and mixed cases have to be taken out in one go.

Where are the best value wines in the Rhone at the moment, do you think - where I’ll get the most delicious experience for my money?


We are intentionally doing more with Rioja as it is a growing category with more and more members buying. I also think that in fine wine, Rioja offers fantastic value when compared with other European fine wine regions.


Are these two wines keep or drink up?


It’s not easy, especially as the science behind bottle maturation is quite sketchy. Acidity and tannin are key to longevity but a wine needs intensity of flavour (judged my length of taste), balance and complexity (does it develop or change in the glass even when young). So we look for these features. Experience is also key- does the wine have a track record of ageing etc…


Choosing the best value is what drives the whole choice for the EP offer so I would start by carefully looking through Marcel’s narrative and notes. Generally though, value tends to come from the lesser known areas (eg St Joseph, Gigondas, Côtes-du-Rhône villages).


Are there any co-op produced wines you would particularly recommend?


I would drink LRA 904 1997 this year, it’s at the end of its peak so could be quite delicate (decant it just prior to serving). Aro 2004 is a magnificent wine, top vintage, I havent tried recently, I would keep for a few more years. It should last to 2030.


@szaki1974 - invite me round when you drink the Aro?


If you have time for one more - what’s the oldest vintage you’ve ever drunk? :smiley: