In a former life, back when I was the producer of The British Independent Film Awards, I was invited by one of our sponsors to attend their annual lunch in Cannes. Held at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, it was an elaborately swanky buffet for film financiers, served with lashings of wine from Domaines Ott.
Back then, Domaines Ott was the kind of wine you only encountered at this sort of event, or at a certain kind of restaurant. The kind that’s more interested in famous people than in the rest of its customers.
Because Domaines Ott is expensive. It is designed to look expensive. It is the wine equivalent of bling.
I did not encounter it again until I left film to return to the on-trade, and the Ott people were desperate for the place I worked to stock their product. My bosses were not convinced. They didn’t take it on, not because it’s a bad wine — it isn’t — but because it’s just not that special. Because it didn’t represent the kind of bang for your buck they wanted for each bottle in the shop. And because there are far better wines available from that part of Provence at much better prices.
They stock it now.
Which makes perfect sense.
Their customers demand it. They want its supposed cachet.
And nobody ever made any money by telling their customers that they’re fucking idiots.
And let us be in no doubt: if you buy Domaines Ott, you are a fucking idiot. Not because it tastes especially bad but because you can have a better time drinking a better wine that costs less and using the money you have left over as tinder for the barbecue.
Buying Domaines Ott states that you have money to burn.
It is an oenological truism that cheap wine served in a Château Pétrus bottle will win a tasting. The context of the wine from said bottle plays havoc with our sense of expectation. But it goes a step further with the Domaines Ott buyer — I could fill the bottle with my dog’s fresh piss and they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Because buying Domaines Ott also states that you are incurious. You justify its quality to yourself by the very amount you’re prepared to pay for it. You think the bottle looks different so the wine must be different. And you really aren’t thinking at all. You are led to spend a stupid amount of money because all your braying friends did too.
Domaines Ott is not a wine so much as a red trouser wearing lifestyle. When you walk into the shop and ask for it, we know who you are. We know you have no taste, that you’re uninterested in trying something different, that frankly you have no appetite for life as it should be lived.
We also know that you’ll be back for some Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc before too long.