Pricing wine is a funny business. The cost of a given bottle may be an indicia of its quality in so far that the care it took to make it would have required expensive labour and equipment. Then again, Joe Bastianich is probably right when he writes that no bottle of wine is worth more than a $100, and a lot of pricing has more to do with demand than supply.
Thankfully, most of us don’t have to worry too much about being charged too much for a bottle of Le Pin to go with our Friday night dinner. But even with those of us who keep an under $20 rule on our provisioning, outside of special occasions, it’s confusing and often unclear why one Chianti is $15.95 and the next $17.95. Given we live in a government enforce liquor distribution monopoly, I sometimes wonder why the LCBO doesn’t just create standard price levels, rounded off at the nearest power of ten as in $10, $20, $30 and so on. Some more innovative restaurants do this with their wine lists to encourage experimentation among their patrons. And it’s not like the LCBO doesn’t operate on a more or less arbitrary basis anyway.
One label that defies conventional pricing, in any event, is the South African producer Boschendal. The 2014 Pavillion Chenin Blanc (LCBO# 281311) is crisp and well balanced white wine that can be had for a very forgiving $10.95. It’s a great party wine and aperitif. My notes on this vintage point to stone fruit (i.e. fresh peaches) and pear. There’s a hint of creaminess to offset the Chenin’s acidic twang*, which means it could be contemplated on it’s before food, or stand up to snacks before dinner.
Apart from being a bargain, the Pavillion Chenin Blanc is widely distributed as part of the LCBO’s ‘general list’; it’s not in Vintages but on the regular shelves.
*Vintages of this wine from the previous few years were labelled ‘Chenin Blanc Viogner’. South African labeling laws require that only 85% of a ‘varietal wine’ be made of the varietal. I suspect there is still around 5% or so Viogner in the Pavillion to round it out.