• El Circo Volatinero 2018 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Spanish red made with tempranillo that doesn’t taste especially Spanish or much like tempranillo. It’s bland and boring – dare I say, “Smooth?” Imported by Seaview Imports
• El Terrano Verdejo 2017 ($8, purchased, 13.5%): Another cheap white wine from Whole Foods that isn’t worth even the little it costs. Spanish, but thin and watery lemon fruit, and not much else. Imported by Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits
• Flora & Stone Gewürztraminer NV ($5, purchased, 12%): Aldi private label California white that tastes like gewurtzraminer, but also tastes like it has been sweetened to please a focus group. It mostly tastes like wine, but it could have been so much more enjoyable.
The Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais reminds us wine doesn’t have to be pumped full of sugar or sieved through a focus group
A long time ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, we drank Beaujolais. The French red was cheap, tasted like wine, and was usually well made at time when it was difficult to find well-made cheap wine. Today, Beaujolais is mostly forgotten, shunted aside in favor of cute labels, bundles of sugar, and focus groups. But after drinking the Domaine Dupeuble, I want my Beaujolais back.
The Domaine Dupeuble ($15, purchased, 13.5%) is everything a weeknight wine should be – clean, fresh, enjoyable, and food friendly. Look for soft berry fruit with a hint of spice and incredibly subtle tannins. But, somehow, it also has an earthiness and heft that requires food.
Yes, it’s a simple wine, but Beaujolais is supposed to be simple. Otherwise, it would be Grand Cru red Burgundy, made with pinot noir and not gamay, and cost hundreds of dollars. Or, to quote the wine’s importer, the legendary Kermit Lynch: “Multi-layered layers of sublime simplicity. …”
Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.
This month, I have questions that the wines can’t answer.
• Tasca D’Almerita Lamùri 2014 ($18, sample, 13.5%): This Italian red offers about $10 worth of Sicilian nero d’avola at twice the price, and it‘s about as Sicilian as a Paso Robles red blend. My question: Why did I get it as part of a Sicilian wine promotion when it isn’t very Sicilian?
• Les Portes de Bordeaux Rose 2015 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This French pink wine is not exceptional, but tastes like it should (freshness, red fruit) and is yet another reason why rose is always a good value. My question: How can this be, in the history of the blog, the first Trader Joe’s wine I can recommend?
• Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2015 ($10, purchased, 13%): A French red that was too tart and not very Beaujolais-ish, without any of the round and fruity flavors that should be there. My question: How can anyone at Jadot, one of the most important producers in France, think this is what this wine should taste like?
Has the hot weather made you as cranky as the WC tasting 15 percent chardonnay? Then take a long, cool sip of the porch wine post.
We haven’t hit 100 in Dallas yet, but 99 for the last week or so is close enough. And, from what I hear from my pals in the rest of the country, it’s too damn hot where they are. Which means it’s time for a porch wine post – focusing on lighter wines, red and white, that are lower in alcohol and that offer relief from the heat. The idea with a porch wine is to drink something that won’t make the sweat bead on your forehead.
These four wines are excellent examples of the type, and should give you an idea about what to look for:
• Nik. Weis Urban Riesling 2015 ($15, sample, 9%): Well-made German riesling is difficult to find in Dallas, which makes no sense given how warm-weather friendly the wine is. The Weis is made in a more modern style, with fresher apricot fruit instead of dried and brighter acidity, but it’s also layered with the traditional honey notes. Nicely done, and will even age a little.
• El Coto Rosado 2015 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): The El Coto is is one of my favorite Spanish roses, and if it’s not quite as well done as the Muga, it’s still delicious and a tremendous value. Look for strawberry fruit, plus a little earthiness and even orange peel from the tempranillo that’s in the blend.
• Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): This Italian sparkler reminded me why I love wine. I much prefer cava to Prosecco, so it’s always a pleasure to find a Prosecco worth writing about – not too sweet, firm bubbles, surprisingly balanced, and more apple and pear fruit than most others. Highly recommended.
• Drouhin Domaine des Hospices de Belleville Fleurie 2014 ($25, sample, 13%): Top-notch red from the French region of Beaujolais that has nothing in common with most of the plonk made there these days. Firm but not overbearing, with red fruit and soft tannins, and something you can drink on its own or with food. The only drawback is the cost, but given how expensive this quality of French wine has become, it’s not overpriced.
Wine geeks get teary-eyed at the mention of high-end Beaujolais, and not just because they’re usually the only ones who know about it. Their argument: That Beaujolais that isn’t the $10 stuff that the Baby Boomers grew up on can be as subtle, interesting, and sophisticated as any great wine, and often at half the price.
The catch, of course, is that there isn’t much high-end Beaujolais, called cru Beaujolais, for sale in the U.S. and it’s not so cheap as to be a great deal compared to other great deals, like Rioja. So even if you find one, how do you know if you should buy it if there isn’t a wine geek handy?
Which is where a knowledgeable retailer comes in, like Cody Upton at Pogo’s in Dallas, who sold me the Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Ponci ($32, purchased, 12%) for a BYOB dinner with the Big Guy. Because, given the price and how little I know about high-end Beaujolais, I wouldn’t have bought it. There’s plenty of sparkling, some white Burgundy, lots of quality Rhone and Rioja, and even California red and white at that price that I know and enjoy.
But I trust Cody, and the Poncie, a red wine from France, shows why. It’s not so much that it was delicious, or that the Big Guy marveled at what it tasted like. Rather, it showed that wine geeks can be right, and that just because a wine is made with the sadly unappreciated gamay grape and comes from Beaujolais is no reason to dismiss it. Cody said this is one of the great Beaujolais of the world, and he was right.
Look for a violet sort of aroma, lingering soft berry fruit, and even some earthiness, which I usually don’t associate with Beaujolais. In this, as with all great wine, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and maybe one day I’ll figure out how great wines do that.
Highly recommended, and especially with Mother’s and Father’s Day coming up. Interestingly, it needs food, despite its soft fruit and cushy tannins — almost any roast meat, cheese courses, and even pate.
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Once, if you wanted an inexpensive quality bottle of wine, chances are you bought a Beaujolais. In fact, that was about the only decent cheap red wine ? imported or otherwise ? on most store shelves two decades ago.
Beaujolais, the French wine region just south of Burgundy, has fallen on hard times since then, something you ?ll read about it in the trade press every once in a while. Sales have declined significantly, mostly because Beaujolais drinkers are dying off. The 1990s were a long time ago in the wine business, and Beaujolais was a Baby Boomer wine. And quality, despite assertions from the region, is inconsistent. Some of it is so badly made that it ?s difficult to believe it ?s a 21st century product.
Fortunately, the producer Louis Tete has held up its end. I bought this wine, its basic Beaujolais ($10, purchased), mostly for nostalgia value, not expecting much. But it was Beaujolais the way it should be, with just enough grapey flavor (courtesy of the gamay grape) so that you could tell it was from Beaujolais, but also lots and lots of character. There was acid and freshness, rare for a Beaujolais these days, as well as an earthiness and even some dark fruit.
This is the quintessential porch red wine, perfect for hot summer days (just 12 1/2 percent alcohol), barbecues and Fourth of July picnics. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 Hall of Fame.
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