Tag Archives: French wine

$200 worth of wine

$200 worth of wineDon’t fear, regular visitors. That’s not one bottle of wine, but the result of a recent Wine Curmudgeon shopping expedition — 13 bottles, only two of which cost more than $16. And there wasn’t a stinker in the bunch.

The occasion for this spree? A chance to shop at Spec’s, probably the best liquor retailer in Texas. Spec’s doesn’t have any stores in Dallas, but I was in Austin for a wedding and Spec’s has several stores there. So that gave me a chance to check out Spec’s vast inventory (at 80,000 square feet, it’s bigger than most grocery stores) and its very competitive pricing. I was not disappointed.

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Mini-reviews 24: J.J. Vincent, Benessere, Tour Coutelin, Faiveley

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.

? J. J. Vincent Cr mant de Bourgogne Brut NV ($20, sample): Yummy, French-made, Champagne-style sparkling wine with lots of bubbles and sweetish green apple fruit.

? Benessere Sangiovese 2007 ($28, sample): Very nicely made, with proper tannins and acid (though not as much red fruit as I expected), but with the usual sort of quality to price problem that crops up with Napa wines. How many quality Chiantis can one get for less than this?

? Ch teau Tour Coutelin 2007 ($20, purchased): Well-done left-bank Bordeaux with much welcome earthiness, though more red fruit than I expected. Probably 5 or 6 Euros in France, which would make it a fine deal.

? Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc 2008 ($20, sample): Solid, dependable basic chardonnay from Burgundy (green apples and a bit of citrus), but which is clobbered by the weak dollar. Have you noticed a theme in this post?

Wine my brother drinks 2: E. Guigal La Turque

image from www.vinfolio.com My brother Jim is a wine aficionado of some repute, though he hangs out in much more rarefied wine circles than I do. His thoughts on E. Guigal's 1994 and 1996 La Turque, two Cote-Roties from a venerable producer. It's part of a feature that appears occasionally — Wine my brother drinks. Jim writes:

"I probably paid a bit too much for these single bottles in the late 90's, $150 a piece, but my logic at the time was that Guigal is a quality house, these were one of their premier offerings, and I'm a big Rhone fan. Which is exactly counter intuitive as to why I like Rhones in the first place, which is value. So I was behind the eight ball from the get-go. And so, like most of us, I decided that I would wait for a "special occasion" to bust these out. The problem with that is that there are always other "special occasion" bottles in the cellar, so the tendency is to let the bottles sit. Bad move."

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Wine of the week: Coteaux d’Ancenis La Clotiere 2009

Here is why the Wine Curmudgeon loves wine. I was cutting through the wine department at my local Whole Foods, on my way to somewhere else, when I saw the La Clotiere on display. The label was unimpressive, it was stacked with a bunch of other $10 wines, and there was absolutely no reason to stop and look at it.

So of course I did, and the result was a Wine of the Week and an almost certain new member of the $10 Hall of Fame. Highly recommended, though availability may be a problem if there are no Whole Foods in your area.

This is cheap wine as it should be — professionally made, balanced, and with low alcohol. It comes from the Loire region of France and is made with gamay, which is not as odd as it sounds (though we don't see many of those wines in this country). But it has very little to do with $10 gamay from Beaujolais, where the wines are often very fruity, don't have much in the way of tannins, and are much simpler than this.

The La Clotiere ($9, purchased) is a surprisingly un-simple wine. There is red fruit in the front, a bit of a middle, and a mineral-like finish common to red wines from the Loire. I chilled it, because that's what I do with $10 Beaujolais, but that made the wine worse. Serve this at room temperature with any simple, middle-of-the-week dinner, and it would also be perfect for French Bistro night (steak frites, anyone?)

Wine of the week: Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages 2009

Wine of the week: Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages 2009The French may have many faults as a wine-producing nation, be it genuflecting in Robert Parker’s direction or refusing to acknowledge the 21st century. But they still make the world’s best chardonnay — even grocery store chardonnay.

The Cave de Lugny ($11, purchased) is just such a wine. It’s almost unoaked, with some green apple and citrus at the front. If the mineral finish is a bit thin, it’s not unpleasant like so many California grocery store chardonnays, which reek of fake oak and other winemaker manipulation. I stumbled across this while looking for something to have on hand in case Icepocalypse: The Sequel kept me from wine shopping, and snapped it up. Cave de Lugny has a fine reputation as a grocery-store Burgundy producer (I especially like the Les Charmes, though it’s not $11 any more), and one could do a lot worse than this wine. Which, sadly, I have.

Drink this chilled on its own, with leftovers if you’re cleaning out the refrigerator after the power goes out, or for Chinese takeout. Assuming you can get to the restaurant for takeout in between the winter storms.

Mini-reviews 21: Bin 36, Simmonet-Febrve, Moncontour, Rodney Strong

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.

? Bin 36 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($16, sample): A good example of what can be done to make affordable California cabernet in the style of Avalon and 337. This is rich and fruit forward, and though there isn’t much more than that, it also isn’t as simple as something like the many popular grocery store cabernets.

? Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2008 ($20, sample) This French white had lots of acid, but also quite fruity (green apples?) for a Chablis. Though $20 is probably too much to spend on it, it was still quite nice to drink.

? Ch teau Moncontour Vouvray Brut NV ($18, sample): Would that someone in Texas (hint, hint) made bubbly of this quality. This French sparkling wine is made from chenin blanc, and has lots of acid balanced by sweet apple fruit at the back.

? Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2009 ($18, sample): Another excellent effort from Rodney Strong — varietally correct, with cherry fruit, an almost cola-like aroma, some earthiness and pinot tannins. Given the silly prices for pinot noir, a decent value.

Winebits 163: Organic wine, cheap wine, malbec

? New Zealand group sets organic target: Organic Winegrowers New Zealand wants 20 percent of the country's vineyards to be certified organic by 2020. The 140-member organic group signed a memorandum of understanding last year with New Zealand Wine Growers to work towards organic goals. The amount of vineyard land in New Zealand under organic certification has tripled in the past three years, and about 4.5 percent of vineyard land is certified organic. That compares to 5 percent in California, which is one of the New World leaders in organic wine. Note that the Kiwis want organic vineyards, which is different from organic wine according to U.S. law. No synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are permitted in organic vineyards.

? French wine values: My pal Dave McIntyre at the Washington Post says France, thanks to an exceptional 2009 vintage, will offer some exceptional "recession buster" wines in 2011. Dave especially likes the Gugial Cotes du Rhone blanc, about $13, and a white from Savoie, Domaine Eugene Carrel Jongieux, about $11. From California, he likes two reds — the 2007 Parducci petite sirah and Liberty School Cuvee, both about $12.

? Not all malbecs are alike: The Wine Curmudgeon is indifferent to much malbec, and Michael Apstein at Wine Review Online, discussing the various regions and styles of malbec that are available today, does a good job of explaining why: "Argentine Malbec satisfies the current thirst in the United States for big, ripe, fruity red wines to accompany the robust flavors found on the plates in fashionably boisterous restaurants. … Hence, there are plenty of Malbecs from Argentina that disappoint with their simplicity and monotonic profile of dark black fruit." But, he says, there are plety of interesting malbecs, from Argentina and elsewhere.