Tag Archives: French wine

Labor Day wine 2018

labor day wine 2018Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018

What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.

These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017  ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports

Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.

Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors.  Highly recommended.

For more about Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2017
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015

Mini-reviews 112: French Bar, Domaine du Seuil, furmint, rose

french barReviews 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.

French Bar Petite Sirah 2015 ($19, sample, 13.9%): This California red tastes of stewed plums and is big and rich — about what you would expect from a $19 petite sirah where the heavy bottle and fancy foil seal probably cost more than the wine.

Domaine du Seuil 2016 ($18, purchased, 12%): Nicely done white Bordeaux with not too tart lemon fruit; clean, minerally, and enjoyable. However, there’s nothing especially exciting about it, and especially at this price. Imported by Scott Levy Selections

Chateau Pajzos Furmint 2016 ($12, purchased, 12%): Would that a Hungarian white like this, made with the less known furmint grape, would be the next big thing. Look for a little spice, some stone fruit, and a touch of sweetness. But it’s also fresh and lively. Highly recommended, but may be difficult to find. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Bertani Bertarose Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12%): Pleasant, if overpriced, Italian rose that is fresh and clean, with a bit of tart berry fruit. Find this at $10 or $12 and you’ve got a fine value. Imported by Palm Bay International

Wine of the week: Chateau Goudichaud Blanc 2016

chateau godichaudFind the Chateau Godichaud for $12, and congratulate yourself on wine shopping well done

The recent post about inflated Bordeaux wine prices is the ideal introduction to Chateau Goudichaud. This is a white blend from the Bordeaux region of France that should cost $10 or $12 but can be twice as expensive in the U.S. Its European grocery store price? About $10.

I was lucky; there was a 20 percent off sale when I bought the Chateau Godichaud ($12, purchased, 12.5%) this summer. As my notes say: “It is what it always is — $9 or $10 worth of white Bordeaux that costs as much as $20 in the U.S. because it’s from Bordeaux.

This is not damning with faint praise; rather, it’s pointing out how difficult it is to find value these days. The Chateau Godichaud is a terrific wine at $10 or $12, and I’d pay $15 for it in a pinch. But $20? It’s time for beer.

Look for a little stoniness, not too much citrus, and a fresh and clean approach despite the older vintage. In this, the semillon in the blend balances the sauvignon blanc and doesn’t turn the wine soft or flabby. There’s a pleasant richness in the mouth I didn’t expect. All in all, it’s the kind of simple, enjoyable, and straightforward weeknight wine that you can chill and drink with takeout roast chicken – the kind of wine we used to be able to buy all the time. Now, we need to hope it’s on sale.

Expensive wine 111: Pehu Simonet Champagne Face Nord Extra Brut NV

Pehu SimonetThe Pehu Simonet is quality Champagne, but not necessarily the kind of Champagne that you’re used to drinking

These days, when Champagne is sold in grocery stores and retailers like World Market, it’s often difficult to remember what all the fuss is supposed to about. Bubbly with toilet paper and rag rugs? Hardly the luxury profile that the Champagne business wants for its product. But that’s where something like the Pehu Simonet figures in.

The Pehu Simonet ($50, purchased, 12.5%) is a remarkable wine, a bubbly from a small family producer that shows off the region’s diversity and quality. In this, it demonstrates that not all Champagne has to taste like Veuve Clicquot.

Call it beguiling, but not for everyone; missing is the brioche and caramel of more commercial bottlings. But it also isn’t made in the fruit and acid-driven style driven style of something like Ruinart, which I enjoy every much. For one thing, the Pehu Simonet is drier than most bubbly (extra brut is more dry than brut, which is the usual designation for a dry sparkling wine). For another, to quote the importer’s tasting notes, the palate is “surprisingly rugged, kind of like skirt steak.”

I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, but you get the idea. There is green apple fruit, almost ripe, and it does eventually show through the wine’s impressive and almost unending minerality. This is Champagne to be considered as much as it is to be enjoyed, and I wasn’t prepared for that when I first tasted it. Halfway through the bottle, though, I was finally beginning to understand what was going on. And I was glad I made the effort.

Imported by Skurnik Wines

Wine of the week: Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais 2016

Domaine DupeubleThe 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. …”

And yes, I would prefer to spend less than $15 for a weeknight wine. But given the junk that is out there these days – soon to be the subject of a long and detailed rant – spending $15 every once in a while keeps me from throwing my keyboard at the office window and screaming like Charlton Heston at the end of “Planet of the Apes.”

Highly recommended. Chill this a little as summer ends, and drink it on the porch by itself or with almost anything you can think of for dinner. Sip slowly, close your eyes, and enjoy.

Imported by Kermit Lynch

Comte de Galeran

Wine of the week: Comte de Galeran Blanquette de Limoux Brut NV

Comte de GaleranCelebrate the Fourth of July and our French allies with the Comte de Galeran sparkling wine

How to explain all the joys of sparkling wine, from cava and Prosecco to Champagne to everything else? In this case, the everything else includes the Comte de Galeran, an intriguing bubbly from the French region of Limoux.

The Comte de Galeran ($15, sample, 12.5%) is made using the ancient methode ancestrale, which locals claim predates Champagne’s methode champenois. The differences are subtle; more important is the mauzac grape used in Limoux. It offers some of chardonnay’s green apple fruit, but it’s not as crisp and can be almost honeyed.

That’s why the Comte de Galeran seems to taste like chenin blanc or chardonnay before the mauzac makes itself known. It’s just not the hint of sweetness, but a little spiciness, and which adds complexity missing from most bubbly at this price. There are also lots and lots of tight and refreshing bubbles.

I drank this with nachos with jalapenos, and it was a spot on pairing. Highly recommended, and just the kind of wine to pop for the Fourth of July. After all, without the French, we might well be spelling favorite as favourite.

Imported by Wines with Conviction

Wine of the week: Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet 2016

Beauregard MuscadetThe Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet is cheap, enjoyable French white wine as summer arrives

The irony of today’s wine world of plenty is that the plenty for most of us is plenty of chardonnay, plenty of sauvignon blanc, and plenty of pinot grigio. If we want something else white, and we don’t have a quality local retailer, we’re stuck. Because wines like the Beauregard Muscadet are worth drinking.

The Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet ($10, purchased, 12%) is from the French region of Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine and made with the wonderfully named melon de bourgogne grape. It’s an unpretentious, weeknight dinner kind of wine that the French have been drinking for a couple of centuries, but that has not received the attention it deserves in the U.S. Because, of course, we have chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio.

The Beauregard Muscadet is everything this kind of wine should be – an almost floral aroma, a little lemon fruit, a softish middle, and some minerality on the finish. It’s an ideal warm weather and porch wine to chill and enjoy – lighter, lower in alcohol, and incredibly versatile. Drink it on its own, or with almost any summer dinner – roasted chicken breasts and couscous, for one, or even crabcakes.

In this, it’s $10 wine that won’t win any awards, but will make the people who buy it quite happy. And that should be the goal for every wine, shouldn’t it?

Imported by Weygant-Metzler