Tag Archives: Gascon wine

Wine of the week: Domaine de Pouy 2018

domaine de pouyDomaine de Pouy, from Gascony in France, is ideal for late summer and 100-degree temperatures – crisp and refreshing

Gascon white wines are some of the best values in the wine world. But they’ve fallen by the wayside since the end of the recession. There have been importer and distributor problems, as well as price increases for no other reason than all wine should cost more.

But the wines from Gascony in France’s southwest, made with grapes most of us don’t know, may be back in favor. Could it be that those same importers and distributors are looking for cheap, well-made wines to sell during the pandemic? For one thing, I’ve seen several reviews for Gascon whites I don’t know, always a good sign. For another, I was able to buy the Domaine de Pouy after a long absence from this market.

The Domaine de Pouy 2018 ($11, purchased, 10.5%) shows what these wines can be – enjoyable, food friendly, and refreshing. It’s certainly not the best of the bunch, but one of the great strengths of Gascon wine is that even the ordinary ones are better than ordinary. The de Pouy is crisp, with a lemonish, sauvignon blanc character, but it’s not as tart or as sharp as sauvignon blanc. As with all Gascon wines, there’s a bit of white grape flavor that offers balance.

Best yet, the low alcohol makes it ideal for late summer, when the Dallas temperature gets to 100 and stays there. Chill this, and enjoy it with a Friday night takeout dinner.

Imported by Fruit of the Vines

Wine of the week: Biscaye Baie Sauvignon Blanc 2019

biscaye baieThe Biscaye Baie is a Gascon white wine that delivers more than $10 worth of value

The wine business has not been kind to France’s Gascon whites, one of the finest values in the world. There have been importer and distributor problems, the 25 percent Trump wine tariff, and the usual sort of availability foolishness. So imagine the Wine Curmudgeon’s euphoria when he found the Biscaye Baie.

Cheap wine gods be praised.

The Biscaye Baie ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is pretty much everything it should be. If it’s not quite up to the quality of the legendary Domaine Tariquet, it tastes like Gascon wine – fresh, white grapey, maybe a little tart, and, as the producer’s tasting note says, “a wine to be enjoyed at all times. …” Or, as my tasting note says, “Not quite Hall of Fame, but still worth buying in quantity.”

The Biscaye Baie isn’t a blend, like so many other Gascon whites – just sauvignon blanc. Hence, it tastes a little more sauvignon blanc-ish than those blended with colombard, since the latter grape tends to take the edge of the sauvignon blanc’s citrusness. But don’t confuse this with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc; it’s not a grapefruit-style wine, but has a sort of vague lemony something or other.

Practically highly recommended, if I did that sort of thing. But I have bought it in quantity, and keep three or four bottles chilled. We’ve reached the 100-degree season in Dallas, and that’s just one more reason to reach for this wine.

Imported by Aquitane Wine Company

Wine of the week: Alain Brumont Rose 2018

Alain Brumont RoseThe Alain Brumont rose, a Gascon pink, makes the WC smile and sip and then smile some more

First, there was the Brumont red blend. Then there was the Brumont white blend. And now we have the Alain Brumont rose.

Do you get the idea this producer knows a thing or two about great cheap wine?

The Alain Brumont rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is pink wine from France’s Gascony, and we all know how much the Wine Curmudgeon likes Gascon wine. Even more impressive, the Brumont is made with tannat, syrah, and merlot. If anyone had told me a wine made with those three grapes could be so fresh, they would have gotten one of my looks.

But the Brumont is fresh and interesting. It’s more fruity than most Provencal and Spanish roses (cherry, strawberry?) and more New World in style, thanks to those three red grapes. But it’s not heavy, it’s not overdone, and it’s cloying. Somehow, it’s clean and brisk, as rose should be.

Highly recommended, and just the thing for Christmas dinner for people who aren’t sure what to drink, who may not like wine, and for everyone who wants something different.

Imported by Kindred Vines

Welcome back, Domaine Tariquet

domaine tariquetDomaine Tariquet’s 2018 vintages are top-notch and well-worth buying – once again, some of the world’s great cheap wines

The Wine Curmudgeon admits he was worried – would Domaine Tariquet, one of the all-time great cheap wines, still be terrific on its return from importer exile?

Of course. How could I have doubted? This is, after the all, the only cheap wine ever honored with a sonnet.

If anything, the four wines that were sold in the U.S. before the producer lost its importer in 2018 are even a little better than before. The white blend and the rose were always top notch, but the chardonnay and the sauvignon blanc – often inconsistent – are much improved.

Here’s a look at each of the wines, made in France’s Gascony region. There’s also a new one, a sweetish, riesling-style white. The wines are imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons; all are highly recommended:

• Domaine Tariquet Classic 2018 ($10, sample, 10.5%): Fresh, crisp, and low in alcohol – how often does that happen? This vintage’s fruit is a little more lemon-lime than white grapey, but that’s just the wine geek in me. Buy a couple of cases of this white blend, keep them chilled, and enjoy.

• Domaine Tariquet Chardonnay 2018 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This was probably the best of the three whites, which is saying something since it was usually boring and could even be a little off. But this vintage was crisp and aromatic, with almost green apple and a little tropical fruit. If anything, it sort of tasted like chardonnay from France’s Macon, which is always a touchstone of inexpensive quality.

• Domaine Tariquet Sauvignon 2018 ($10, sample, 11.5%): Much better than past vintages, which tended to taste like New Zealand kockoffs. This time, though, the wine had a bit of a grassy aroma, not too much citrus, and a certain Gascon fruitiness.

• Domaine Tariquet Rose 2018 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This pink wine is dry but not Provencal in style. Look for darker fruit, less zippiness on the finish, and a little heft in the mouth. But it’s not heavy so that it’s a rose for red wine drinkers, and so sits somewhere between the Bieler Provencal rose and the Charles & Charles from Washington state.

• Domaine Tariquet Les Premières Grives 2018 ($17, sample, 11.5%): Professionally sweet, with an almost honeyed finish and mostly balanced. It’s a different and interesting wine, in the style of a German just-sweet riesling like a kabinett. The only question: Is it worth $17?

More about Domaine Tariquet:
Domaine Tariquet returns to the U.S.
Domaine Tariquet loses U.S. importer
Wine to drink when the air conditoner is replaced

Wine of the week: Alain Brumont Tannat-Merlot 2015

Brumont tannat-merlotThe Brumont tannat-merlot shows the tannat grape to its best advantage in a delicious $10 wine

During a recent Skype tasting for the American Wine Society, someone asked me about tannat. It’s a red grape, very geeky, best known in South America. When it’s made as a varietal wine, the result is often hard, tannic, and not all that enjoyable. But when it’s blended, like the Brumont tannat-merlot from Gascony in France, it can be a wine of the week.

I’ve tasted three bottles of this vintage of the Brumont Tannat-Merlot ($10, purchased, 13.5%) over the past three years, and each one has been different. Who knew there would be such a variation in bottle age for a $10 wine?

But that’s the tannat at work, and it’s also worth noting that the 2015 is the vintage in most stores. As such, the third  tasting was a delight – some of the tannat’s heartiness was still there, but the rough edges were gone, softened by the merlot. But this is not a soft wine – there’s not any hint of sweetness or too ripe black fruit (blackberry?), and the tannins and acidity remain part of the wine’s still complete structure. Hence, a food wine, and ideal for summer barbecue, burgers, and especially bratwurst.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2020 $10 Hall of Fame.

Imported by Kindred Vines

Wine to drink when you’re visiting your mom

wine to drinkFour wines to drink when you’re visiting your mom

I spent a week in Chicago with my mom before Thanksgiving, which brought up the question of wine. I wasn’t where I knew the stores, and I wanted to find wine my mom would enjoy. Because, as noted here many times, what’s the point of sharing wine with someone when you don’t take their tastes into consideration?

My mom’s palate is discriminating, and she looks for value almost as much as I do. She is also open to wines that aren’t mainstream, so lesser known regions and varietals are OK. But the wines had to be well made and taste like they’re supposed to.

The catch: I was limited to grocery stores and one visit to Binny’s, the biggest chain in the area. The grocery store selection wasn’t any better than it is in Dallas (and the pricing was just as screwy), and Binny’s was more expensive than I thought it would be.

In the end, I bought four wines – three from retailers and one at a local restaurant (and, as an added bonus, I know two of the winemakers – always nice to be able to brag to your mother):

Domaine de Pouy ($10): This Gascon white blend is suffering from the same problem as most of the rest – not enough white grapiness and almost too tart. Having said that, it was the least tart of those I’ve tasted this year, and Mom liked it. So a winner all around.

Charles & Charles rose ($12): Mom buys this Washington state pink at her local supermarket, so it was an easy choice. The price was a couple of bucks more than I pay in Dallas, but this rose remains one of the best and most consistent values in the world – rose or otherwise.

Armas de Guerra ($13): I’m not quite sure how this Spanish red, made with the little-known mencia grape, ended up in a supermarket. But I’m glad it did. Its bitter cherry fruit and earthiness made it a terrific match for Mom’s legendary spaghetti and meatballs.

Giesen sauvignon blanc ($10): This New Zealand white was the best of a very mediocre wine list at an otherwise interesting restaurant. Not surprisingly, almost no one else was drinking wine. Don’t the people who run the place see the correlation? The Giesen had more than just grapefruit, with a little tropical in the middle. It was much better than I thought it would be.

Graphic courtesy of Ephemera, using a Creative Commons license

More bad news for cheap wine: Domaine du Tariquet loses U.S. importer

domaine du tariquet

The Domaine du Tariquet Classic may join Osborne Solaz, the Hogue fume blanc, and the black label Jaja de Jau as great cheap wines that aren’t any more.

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.”

Which, sadly, I can’t do any more.

More cheap wine news:
Freixenet sold to German bubbly maker
Cheap wine quality sinks to new low
Cheap wine checklist: $82.67 for a case of wine