Tag Archives: French wine

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

 

Wine of the week: Mont Gravet Carignan 2016

mont gravet carignanThe Mont Gravet carignan is once again quality cheap wine – balanced, fresh, and enjoyable

The 2015 Mont Gravet carginan was an exceptional cheap wine, one of the best I’ve tasted in more than two decades of doing this. The 2016 isn’t quite what that was, but it’s still $10 Hall of Fame quality.

The Mont Gravet carignan ($9, sample, 13%) is a French red, and carignan is a little known grape used mostly for blending and to make jug wine. It’s considered inferior to other red grapes, and even Cellar Tracker users don’t think much of it – too light, too insubstantial, and not manly enough.

Here, though, carignan shows off, producing a varietal wine that is impeccably made, balanced, and fresh. It’s not overripe or too rough, which is usually the case with cheap wines made with lesser known grapes.

The main difference between the 2016 and the 2015 is that the former is fruitier (blackberries?) and less rustic and earthy. That makes it more modern in style and a little less interesting. But that’s a critic’s complaint, and no reason not to buy the wine and enjoy it.

This is summer red wine – sipping on the porch, drinking with burgers, barbecue, and even smoked chicken. Highly recommended.

Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

rose reviews 2018

Mini-reviews 109: Even more rose reviews 2018

rose reviews 2018Reviews 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 rose reviews 2018 in honor of the blog’s 11th annual rose fest.

Château De Paraza Cuvée Spéciale Rose 2017 ($12, sample, 13.5%): This French rose would have been $8 in the old days, when only cranky wine writers drank rose, and it would have made the $10 Hall of Fame. Look for a flowery aroma, pretty watermelon fruit (not overdone at all), refreshing crispness, and a pleasing finish. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Hecht & Bannier Rose 2017 ( $16, sample, 13%): Rose for white zinfandel drinkers. It’s a little soft, which I assume is to simulate sweetness (cherry compote?). Plus, it’s short and not especially crisp. That this bottle costs as much as it does – from a very ordinary part of France – speaks to what’s going on with rose. Not to be confused with Hecht & Bannier’s Provencal rose, about $4 or $5 more and a step up in quality. Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12.5%): More pink wine from France’s Languedoc at a “rose is trendy” price. This vintage is a little fruiter the previous and less Provencal in style, with almost peach fruit. It’s well-made and professional, and well worth buying if you can find it at $12. Imported by Sera Wine Imports.

Bonny Doon La Bulle-Moose de Cigare 2017 ($8/375 ml can, sample, 13%): This is Randall Grahm’s always top-notch California rose — dry, tart, and fresh — in a can with added carbonation. Call it fizzy pink with a pulltop. Enjoyable and much better than I expected, which speaks to the quality of the wine.

rose

Wine of the week: La Vielle Ferme Rose 2017

La Vielle Ferme roseThe usually indifferent La Vielle Ferme rose is one of the great cheap pink finds for this summer

How surprising – and welcome – is the quality of the 2017 La Vielle Ferme rose? I bought a second bottle for this review, because I didn’t believe that the first bottle was so well done.

But it is, excellent and delcious. The La Vielle Ferme rose ($8, purchased, 13%) reminds us that rose doesn’t have to cost $25, doesn’t have to come in a fancy bottle, and doesn’t require a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. It can be an $8 bottle of screwcap grocery store wine — just what we’re looking for to mark the blog’s 11th annual rose extravaganza.

La Vielle Ferme is a decades-old cheap French wine (there’s red and a white besides the rose) that is best known for the rooster on the label and its indifferent quality. I taste the wines every year or so, and they usually taste like they always do – thin and a little bitter, the kind of wine made to sell cheaply in big bottles in a grocery store.

But the 2017 rose is much improved over previous vintages — missing the cheap wine raggedyness that it often shows. Look for a little red fruit (tart strawberry?), some minerality, and a freshness that the wine has never really had. The producer, the French giant Famille Perrin, apparently made a concerted effort to do something better than it has done.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. Buy many bottles, chill them, and then spend the summer enjoying their cheap goodness. What more can we ask of rose?

Wine of the week: De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut NV

De Chanceny CremantThe De Chanceny Cremant offers Mother ‘s Day quality at a more than fair price

Sparkling wine value has been pounded by premiumization, as more bubbly costs more money even though it’s not necessarily worth it. This has been a particular problem with French sparkling that isn’t Champagne. These wines, from Burgundy and the Loire in particular, are called cremant to distinguish them from Champagne, and they’re made with local grapes. But they’re made using the same methode champenoise technique and be quite well done.

These cremants used to cost as little as $15 and offer $20 or $25 worth of value. Today, many of them cost $25 but taste like they did when they were $10 less.

The De Chanceny Crémant ($15, purchased, 12.5%) is an exception. It’s professionally made sparkling wine, with chenin blanc lemon fruit and hint of softness that is common in cremant from the Loire. But there is also a bit of chardonnay and cabernet franc to offer structure and a little depth so it’s more than soft and sweetish. Hence, a dry wine with tight, poppy bubbles and just enough acidity to make it sparkle in the mouth.

This is Mother’s Day brunch wine at a more than fair price. Serve it chilled, and enjoy with scrambled eggs, quiche, or anything Mom likes.

Imported by Signature Imports

Expensive wine 108: Patrick Baudouin Savennieres 2014

Patrick Baudouin SavennieresThe Patrick Baudouin Savennieres shows why chenin blanc should be one of the world’s great wine grapes

Chenin blanc may be the least respected grape in the wine world. In California, it’s used to make sweet, white jug wine or a treacly varietal. Even in France, where it’s best known for Vouvray, the wines can be dull and too soft.

This has always baffled me. Chenin blanc can make amazing wine – fresh, crisp and almost steely. I’ve annoyed any number of winemakers over the years, asking: “Why don’t you do chenin blanc?” after tasting their very ordinary and overpriced chardonnay from a part of the world that doesn’t need to be making chardonnay.

Which bring us to the Patrick Baudouin Savennieres ($40, purchased, 13.5%), a chenin blanc that demonstrates the grape’s potential. The Savennieres region is in the Loire in central France, not as well known as nearby Vouvray and overshadowed by the Loire’s reputation for some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc, made in Sancerre.

The Patrick Baudouin Savennieres shows none of this need be true. It’s classic Savennieres – rich and full in the mouth, but not oily or oaky. In fact, this wine could be used to teach how to do oak. There isn’t much fruit at all (maybe barely ripe pear?), but there is that wonderful Savennieres nuttiness and minerality as well as white pepper and an almost clove something or other. Plus, like all great wines from the region, it will age – maybe 10 more years.

Highly recommended, and especially for any Mother’s Day celebration where Mom wants something a little different. Drink this chilled, but open it 30 or 40 minutes before you drink it.