The concept of value seems to be much in the news of late and I found myself contemplating its relativity on several occasions during the past week. I spent the last evening of a holiday dining with friends in a terrific Catalan bistro called Mam y Teca in the lively Raval area of Barcelona. The bill for four including two good bottles (a Godello and a local red Montsant) totalled 100 euros. On my return to the UK I was discussing this point with celebrated Crozes Hermitage winemaker, Alain Graillot, who agreed that restaurant mark-ups in Spain are minimal - he notes that his own top cuvée, La Guiraude, is on the list at El Bulli for less than 30 euros. You'd be hard-pressed to buy a bottle of La Guiraude for this price, even if you could track one down.
The same phenomenon manifested it the following night when I shared a pre-match tipple with friends in a West London a restaurant. I had kindly been invited to enjoy the entertainment offered by QPR hosting Crystal Palace (this is as jet-set as it gets for me). My canny, wine-loving host had identified that the superb wine list at the Princess Victoria on the Uxbridge Road featured Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne 2006 at £200 per bottle, roughly a third of its 'market' price. A lovely wine and our group agreed it was great value, although we didn't solicit the opinion of our fellow supporters inside the ground. The 90 minute match was a spirited 1-1 draw (£25 ticket) and decent entertainment, yet looked less value when compared with Friday night when I saw LA band 'Airborne Toxic Event' play their hearts out to a packed and enthusiastic crowd over 2 hours at Shepherd's Bush Empire for £11.50.
On Saturday (I must stay in more), I tuned in with a pal to watch the Haye - Valuev Heavyweight fight. Sky Box Office (£14.50) and a dull affair, brightened up considerably by the bottle of Costières de Nîmes Tradition red 2005 (£8.50) that had been unearthed - it reminded me how good 'minor' wines can be with short-term bottle-age, particularly from excellent vintages.
All this, of course, pales into insignificance when compared with fellow football fan and West Londoner Roman Abramovich's (alleged) recent $47,000 lunch at Nello's in New York which featured La Tâche, Pétrus and magnums of Cristal rosé.