Category:French wine

Mini-reviews 138: German riesling, white Burgundy, godello, Rombauer

rieslingReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Riesling 2018 ($13, purchased, 10%): This Total Wine private label is a German white that is honeyed and lemony.  It’s simple but enjoyable, and the “medium dry” sweetness doesn’t get in the way. Imported by Saranty Imports

Sauzet Bourgogne Blanc 2016 ($32, purchased, 12.5%): The Big Guy brought this white Burgundy, from our favorite Burgundy producer, to WC world headquarters for pandemic, socially-distanced, porch sipping. Sadly, thanks to the tariff and premiumization, this is no longer the “affordable” wine it used to be. It’s fine for what it is,  with some green apple and well-constructed oak. But it lacks the Sauzet verve and dash, and especially at this price. Imported by Vineyard Brands

Virxe de Galir Pagos del Galir 2018 ($18, sample, 13.5%): This Spanish white is made with godello, which the wine geeks compare to chardonnay (same green apple fruit, same mouth feel, though a bit more spice). Hence the problem: You can buy a nice albarino or a Basque Txakolina  for more or less the same price. Imported by Aaron LLC

Rombauer Sauvignon Blance 2019 ($25, sample, 14.2%): This California white is a terrific example of this style of pricey wine — and it’s the style that Rombauer made famous. It’s a little hot, and features some grassy notes but surprisingly muted citrus fruit. Plus, it has a much fuller mouth feel than other sauvignon blancs. In other words, $10 New Zealand it ain’t.

Photo: “Sunny Afternoon on the Roof” by winestyr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wine of the week: Mont Gravet Carignan 2018

Mont Gravet CarignanThe Mont Gravet Carignan offers value and quality and interest – impressive in any wine, and even more so for $10

This vintage of the Mont Gravet Carignan, a red wine from France, isn’t as amazing as the 2015, which was one of the great cheap wines of all time. But that doesn’t mean the 2018 isn’t a terrific cheap wine.

Because it is. The Mont Gravet Carignan 2018 ($10, purchased, 12%) is everything a great $10 wine should be – professionally made, varietally correct, and interesting. Why interesting?

• It’s not tannic, but it’s not the kind of “smoooooth” wine that a focus group would approve of.

• It’s made with carignan, usually used for blending. So it doesn’t taste like cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir. Which is OK, since it’s not supposed to.

• It’s both food friendly (burgers and fajitas) and something to drink when you feel like a glass of red wine. That just doesn’t happen much any more.

Look for berry fruit, not quite brambly and not too much of it, plus a little bit of earth (one of my favorite things about this wine every vintage). The  smidgen of tannins and acidity make the wine complete. Highly recommended, and should return to the Hall of Fame in 2021.

Imported by Winesellers, Ltd.

Wine of the week: Chateau de Ribebon 2015

Chateau de RibebonYes, $14 isn’t cheap, but the Chateau de Ribebon still offers value in red Bordeaux

The amazing thing about the $14 Chateau de Ribebon is not that the 2015 vintage has aged well enough to become a wine of the week, but that the current vintage is the 2016. So someone, somewhere, remembers how to make popularly priced wines that will last.

And no mistake. The Chateau de Ribebon ($14, purchased, 13.5%) is what passes for popularly priced red Bordeaux these days. The tariff, combined with ridiculous prices for even the most ordinary French wines from the Bordeaux region, makes this a value. That it costs half as much in France is just something one has to accept.

The Chateau de Ribebon is a traditional red blend, though with more merlot than cabernet sauvignon. Hence, it’s a little softer and a little fruitier (cherries?) than many others, but there are still tannins in the back and it’s nothing like a jumped up New World fruit slurpee.

Pair this with beef, but it’s the sort of wine that would work for coq a vin and even roast chicken.

Imported by Knows Imports

Wine of the week: Domaine de la Sangliere Juliette 2018

Sangliere JulietteForget the back-handed compliments: the Sangliere Juliette is cheap, enjoyable, and well made wine

Two things are worth noting about the Sangliere Juliette, a rose from southern France. First, like so many roses these days, it’s a previous vintage that is still worth drinking. Thank the rose boom for that; not that long ago, previous vintages faded as quickly as snow melts.

Second, cheap wine still sucks, regardless of how well made it actually is. That’s the conclusion of several of the reviewers on CellarTracker, the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app. “OK for $11…” “Typical but nondescript. …”

Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business? What more do wine drinkers want? The Domaine de la Sangliere Juliette 2018 ($11, purchased, 12.5%) is exactly what it is supposed to be – top-notch $11 pink wine to chill, open, and enjoy. When did we get to the point where a wine this well made and this inexpensive isn’t worth drinking? Why must every wine cost $25 or $45 or $65 so it can offer an experience only to be recorded in the most winespeaky of tasting notes?

Look for almost tart strawberry fruit, a mouth feel that is almost austere (there’s hardly any residual sugar to confuse your taste buds), and a clean and kind of stony finish. In other words, the sort of rose to keep on hand when you want a glass or two, or to open for a Labor Day barbecue.

Mini-reviews 136: Four wines you probably don’t want to buy

wine reviews

“Damn, look at that review. The WC is in a foul mood this month.”

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, four wines you probably don’t want to buy, because I’m really, really tired of tasting wine that is so unpleasant.

Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhone 2019 ($15, purchased, 14.5%): This French red used to be one of the most dependable $15 wines in the world. But this vintage is almost undrinkable. That’s not because it’s flawed or off, but because it has been manipulated to taste like it comes from a second-tier producer in Paso Robles – lots of sweet fruit, not a lick of tannins, and this hideous violet candy smell. Imported by Winebow

Avalon Pinot Noir 2018 ($11, sample, 13.5%): This California red is the sort of pinot noir people buy because it’s cheap, and not especially because it tastes like anything. Think grape juice flavored with fake vanilla oak, in case any of you enjoy that.

Jadix Picpoul de Pinet 2019 ($12, purchased, 14.5%): This French white is heavy and hot, and not anything picpoul should be – fruity, tart, and refreshing. Why would anyone make picpoul like this? Imported by Aquitane Wine Company

Montalto Pinot Grigio 2019 ($12, sample, 12%): Someone, somewhere thought that Americans would love sweet Italian pinot grigio, and this is the result. My question? Why — isn’t there enough dry pinot grigio in the world? Imported by Mack & Schuhle

Wine of the week: Domaine de Pouy 2018

domaine de pouyDomaine de Pouy, from Gascony in France, is ideal for late summer and 100-degree temperatures – crisp and refreshing

Gascon white wines are some of the best values in the wine world. But they’ve fallen by the wayside since the end of the recession. There have been importer and distributor problems, as well as price increases for no other reason than all wine should cost more.

But the wines from Gascony in France’s southwest, made with grapes most of us don’t know, may be back in favor. Could it be that those same importers and distributors are looking for cheap, well-made wines to sell during the pandemic? For one thing, I’ve seen several reviews for Gascon whites I don’t know, always a good sign. For another, I was able to buy the Domaine de Pouy after a long absence from this market.

The Domaine de Pouy 2018 ($11, purchased, 10.5%) shows what these wines can be – enjoyable, food friendly, and refreshing. It’s certainly not the best of the bunch, but one of the great strengths of Gascon wine is that even the ordinary ones are better than ordinary. The de Pouy is crisp, with a lemonish, sauvignon blanc character, but it’s not as tart or as sharp as sauvignon blanc. As with all Gascon wines, there’s a bit of white grape flavor that offers balance.

Best yet, the low alcohol makes it ideal for late summer, when the Dallas temperature gets to 100 and stays there. Chill this, and enjoy it with a Friday night takeout dinner.

Imported by Fruit of the Vines

Wine of the week: Chateau Belingard Bergerac Rouge 2016

Chateau Belingard BergeracTotal Wine’s Chateau Belingard Bergerac Rouge, a French red blend, offers value where it’s often difficult to find these days

The Wine Curmudgeon’s luck with private labels form Total Wine, the erstwhile national retailer, has been uneven at best. Too many of them, regardless of where in the world the wine is made, taste like they went through the California Big Wine Processing Machine, which churns out all that “smooooothhhhhhhhh” wine.

Fortunately, the Chateau Belingard Bergerac Rouge 2016 ($11, purchased, 13.5%) is a red wine blend that tastes like the region it comes from – Bergerac in southwest France. Yes, it’s a bit too oaky and fruity, but otherwise it speaks to the region and the grapes in the blend. The latter are mostly merlot, but with about one-quarter cabernet sauvignon and decent dollops of cabernet franc and malbec. This results in noticeable, though not unpleasant tannins, as well as dark red berry fruit and a hint of an earthy finish (thanks to the cabernet franc).

Best yet, the price – given similar wines cost $15 to $18 – adds to the value. This is weeknight pizza wine; chill the bottle to 50 or 55 degrees, pour, drink, and enjoy.

Imported by Saranty Imports