Top importer Wildman picks up Domaine Tariquet, and it should be available in most of the country
Our too long cheap wine nightmare is over: Domaine Tariquet, one of the best cheap wine producers ever, has a new U.S. importer and its products could be on store shelves by late spring or early summer. Even better, the importer, Frederick Wildman & Sons, is big enough so that it works with the largest distributors in the country. Hence, the wines should be available almost everywhere in the U.S.
Tariquet, located in Gascony in France, disappeared last July, when its then importer dropped the brand. No one was talking about what happened, even off the record, but the result was that we’ve gone without the label’s flagship Tariquet Classic for almost a year – a painful loss at any time, but especially painful in these days of overpriced and underperforming cheap wine.
The Tariquet Classic, a white blend made with ugni blanc and colombard, is everything great cheap wine should be – fresh, fruity, dry, crisp, and low in alcohol. Its success here paved the way for a host of Gascon wines to shine in the U.S. The Classic, plus four other Tariquet wines (including a very nice rose) is in the Wildman warehouse in New York and listed on the Wildman website. Wildman’s John Little said orders are already coming in from across the country.
Even better news: There won’t be a price increase, which had been talked about last summer if and when the wine returned. That means the Classic should still cost $10 to $12.
Finally, the Grassa family, which owns Tariquet, shortened the brand’s name. This version is Domaine Tariquet; it was Domaine du Tariquet under the previous importer.
Buy all the Domaine du Tariquet you can, because there won’t be any more in the U.S. until the holidays — if we’re lucky
Domaine du Tariquet Classic, the Frnech white blend from Gascony that is one of the greatest cheap wines of all time, has lost its U.S. importer. That means no more Tariquet until at least the holidays, says its Dallas distributor – if we’re lucky.
And that’s just the beginning of the bad news: There will be a price increase if and when the wine reappears on U.S. store shelves. Currently, the Classic costs $10 to $12; expect it to cost as much as $15. Which, as much as I love the wine, is probably more than it’s worth. By comparison, the Classic costs €8 (about US$9.34) on Amazon UK and goes for €6.60 (about $US7.70 ) in France.
How did we get to this point? It’s just more of the fun and thrills that are part of the post-modern wine business. The French company that makes more than 800,000 cases of the various Tariquet wines (owned by the Grassa family) had a disagreement with its long-time importer, New York’s Domaine Select Estates, and one thing led to another. These spats are becoming increasingly common in the wine business as it consolidates and readjusts itself. A variety of well-known brands, starting with Santa Margherita in 2015, have also changed or lost importers.
What makes the Tariquet so terrific? Why is it a charter member of the $10 Hall of Fame? First, exceptional value for the price, possible because it comes from a part of the world where land is cheap and where the grapes aren’t well known. Second, its consistency – I’ve never had a bottle that wasn’t worth drinking, and I’ve been drinking it for at least a decade. Third, and I’m quoting the winery website because it’s spot on: “Very refreshing at any time of the day, as an aperitif or with starters, seafood or fish. … Always have a bottle in the fridge door, just in case.”
What’s left to say about the Domaine du Tariquet Classic, the Gascon white blend that may be the greatest cheap wine in the world? How about that it tastes even more complex this year?
I know, I know. Hard to believe for a $10 wine made in southwestern France with colombard and ugni blanc (plus sauvignon blanc and gros manseng this year), none of which are on the Winestream Media’s hit parade. But there it is. This vintage of the Domaine du Tariquet Classic ($10, purchased, 10.5%) has the usual white grapiness and a hint of citrus (less than the last couple of years), but it’s also practically savory on the back. This makes the wine more subtle, something it has never really been before. That a $10 wine made with such ordinary grapes can have such a significant vintage difference speaks to how amazing the Tariquet is.
How much do consumers appreciate this wine? There was a huge floor stack at the Dallas retailer where I bought six bottles a couple of weeks ago, and when I went back the next week, the stack was half the size. So, yes, highly recommended and a permanent member of the $10 Hall of Fame.
Chill this and drink on its own or with almost any weeknight dinner (or weekend dinner, because it’s that well made and your guests will be impressed with your good taste). One note: Give it a couple of minutes after you open the screwcap for the wine to breathe and for the flavors to come together.
Why not the wine I expected ?Because it was much fruitier (watermelon?) than I thought it would be, given it’s French and not from California or Washington state. However, since it has merlot and syrah among its four-grape blend, that shouldn’t be surprising. This makes the Tariqet rose more New World than Old, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a terrific cheap wine. There is still balance, freshness, and a surprising amount of fullness and length for a $10 rose.
My only complaint? I’m not sure what vintage is for sale, and how available the wine will be this spring. Though there is a retailer in this area that carries the wine, it’s almost an hour away in Fort Worth. This sample, a 2012, came last fall from the importer, who was probably trying to get rid of inventory. Hopefully, most of us will be to find the wine more easily than I can, and will find a newer vintage.
Highly recommended, and almost certain to join the Tariquet white blend in the $10 Hall of Fame next year assuming I can find a more recent vintage.
My mom enjoys a glass of wine now and then, and I ?d like to think that I ?ve helped her with that. She reads the blog, and is better informed when she walks into a liquor store to buy a bottle.
Which is one of the reasons why the Tariquet ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is the wine of the week with Mother ?s Day coming up. Yes, I ?ve praised this wine many times before, and it has been in the $10 Hall of Fame since 2009. But its great strength ? and I don ?t know that I ?ve emphasized this enough ? is that it ?s table wine the way it should be but isn ?t often enough in this country. You don ?t need to be a wine geek to enjoy it. You don ?t need to have piles of money. You don ?t need to read the Wine Magazines or to parse scores.
All you need is $10. Good wine shouldn ?t be more difficult than that, should it?
This vintage of the Tariquet isn ?t as grapey, which is one of the things I always enjoyed about it. Look for more citrus, probably because this year ?s blend has sauvignon blanc in addition to ugni blanc and colombard, the classic grapes of Gascony. But the wine is still balanced, clean and fresh — very well made and not only among the best cheap wines in France, but in the world. Highly recommended. Drink a toast to mom with it on Sunday; I know I will.
Sept. 2, 2011 update: Tasted the 2010 at The Esquire in San Antonio, where it was surreal to see Tariquet on the wine list, and for only $21. The wine was everything it should be. There was a bit of grapey fruit, lots of citrus, and that wonderful, fresh, clean style. And it paired well with fried dill pickles.
The good news: This is still great cheap wine, and a member of the $10 Hall of Fame.
The bad news: The 2009 isn’t as interesting as the 2007 and 2008. I’m not sure if it’s because the vintage was lacking or if the 2009 is too old. As wonderful as the Tariquet is, it’s not made to age more than a year or two; hopefully, the 2010 will be here soon. There’s less green apple and more grapiness in the 2009 than in other vintages.
Having said all of that, the Tariquet ($10, purchased) shows what can be done when a producer cares about making quality cheap wine. It’s a white blend composed of ugni blanc and colombard, two grapes held in lesser repute most everywhere else in the world. But in Gascony, where the Tariquet is made, they are as important as chardonnay is elsewhere, and it shows in the wine. And the winery has been around since the late 17th century, so the winemakers know a thing or two about what they’re doing.