Tag Archives: Gascon wine

Wine of the week: Brumont La Gascogne 2016

Brumont La GascogneThe Brumont La Gascogne reminds us how cheap and delicious white wine from France’s Gascon region can be

White wine from the French region of Gascony, like the Brumont La Gascogne, has never caught on with the wine intelligentsia like Sicilian wine did. Which is very good news for those of us looking for quality and value.

Sicilian wine prices have gone up, even for cheap wines, and quality has become maddeningly inconsistent. That’s what happens when you’re noticed by the Winestream Media. But Gascon wine, mostly made with grapes that the wine geeks consider inferior, is still $10 and delicious.

Like the Brumont La Gascogne ($10, purchased, 12.5%). It’s made with sauvignon blanc and gros manseng; the latter is grown only in parts of Gascony and even there is used in a variety of different ways. In this case, its softer stone fruit flavors play off the citrus in the sauvignon blanc, and the wine is refreshing without being too tart. Gros manseng also helps give the wine the wonderful Gascon white grape juice flavor that I like so much, though it’s not as pronounced as it is in a couple of others.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own if you want a respite from wintry red wines, or pair it with roast or grilled chicken. It would also work as the wine in chicken braised in white wine.

Imported by Kindred Vines

Labor Day wine 2017

labor day wine 2017Four refreshing wines to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2017

Labor Day means the end of summer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of hot summer weather. So look for wine that takes the edge of the heat, suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines in warmer weather.

These four bottles should get you started when it comes to Labor Day wine 2017:

Le Pillon Gascogne 2016 ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This white wine from the French region of Gascony is a private label from Whole Foods, and tastes almost exactly like the legendary Domaine du Tariquet – some white grapiness and citrus. Highly recommended, assuming you can find it.

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Rosato 2015 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Italian pink wine from one of that country’s most intriguing producers – the wines are cheap and tasty, and use a glass stopper for the bottle. Look for almost floral aromas and crisp raspberry fruit. Also highly recommended, and also may be hard to find.

Coastal Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($7, purchased, 12%): This Aldi private label is about as well made as $7 New Zealand sauvignon blanc gets. It’s clean and fresh with sweet lemon fruit, plus a pleasing tropical note in the middle to balance the lemon.

Cantina Vignaioli Barbera d’Alba 2014 ($15, purchased, 14%): This Italian red is earthy and almost funky, showing exactly what varietal means for the barbera grape in Piedmont. Look for dark berry fruit (blackberry, black cherry?) and spice as well as just enough Italian-style acidity to make the whole thing work. Highly recommended.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015
Labor Day wine 2014

Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2015

domaine du tariquetThis vintage of the legendary Domaine du Tariquet may be the best yet

How enjoyable is this year’s Domaine du Tariquet? It may be the best bottle ever of the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite Gascon white blend, and that’s saying something since I’ve waxed eloquent about it for eight vintages.

What makes the Domaine du Tariquet ($10, purchased, 10.5%) a great cheap wine? First, it’s simple but not stupid, with every flavor where it should be. The 2015 has the white grapiness I like, but also some lemon and lime that adds a little interest. That’s the biggest difference between this vintage and the others, which didn’t have as much citrus.

Second, ugni blanc, colombard, and gros manseng, three of the four grapes in the wine (sauvignon blanc is the other, and lends the extra citrus). What better way to irritate a wine snob than to mention your $10 white Gascon blend with ugni blanc? Let them find that in a $200, 92-point red something or other with its leather and cigar box aromas.

Third, it’s refreshing and fun to drink, and shows off its low alcohol. Fourth, it doesn’t require points or a wine app or an expert or special equipment to drink. You buy it, chill it, twist off the screwcap, and enjoy it. What more does an everyday bottle of wine need to be?

Highly recommended, and it will return to the $10 Hall of Fame in 2017.

Labor Day wine 2016

Labor Day wine 2016Four refreshing wines to enjoy for Labor Day

Labor Day means three things: The beginning of the end of the Texas summer (which wasn’t too bad this year, save for one week); the annual the Kerrville Fall Music Festival; and a chance to remind wine drinkers that warmer weather means lighter wines. Hence Labor Day wine 2016.

This is a notion that wine drinkers are happily embracing, if my email is any indication – the idea that heavy, alcoholic, and tannic wines don’t go with 90 degree temperatures. Rather, the goal is wine that is refreshing, since you’re likely to drink it outdoors at a picnic or barbecue. Plus, these wines should be food friendly, because you’re probably going to drink them with a holiday dinner or lunch.

These four bottles of Labor Day wine 2016 (Google overlord alert) should help you find something lighter and fresher for the holiday:

Domaine Guillaman 2015 ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This white Gascon blend (including, oddly enough, chardonnay) is remarkably consistent from year to year. More toward the sauvignon blanc style of white Gascon blends, it’s ideal for chilling and porch drinking.

Moulin de Gassac rose 2015 ($10, purchased, 12%): This French pink wine shows why rose is such a terrific value – not too much red fruit, crisp, fresh, and lively. And it will pair with almost anything at a Labor Day barbecue.

Gran Baron Cava Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%): Simple but value-oriented Spanish sparkling wine with lots of tight bubbles and apple and citrus fruit. Probably somewhere between Cristalino and Segura Viudas in quality, and its probably a little softer than I like.

Catena Malbec 2013 ($24, sample, 13.5%): One of the best Argentine malbecs I’ve ever had. The black fruit (blueberries?) doesn’t overwhelm the wine, and it remains balanced, not too heavy or cloying, and surprisingly enjoyable. Red meat wine, and especially pork barbecue. The price may be problematic, though it’s probably worth this much.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2015
Labor Day wine 2014
Labor Day wine 2013
Porch wine for the long, hot summer

Wine of the week: Brumont La Gascogne 2015

Brumont La GascogneBest producer tasting note ever? “This wine has very little residual sugar and can accompany almost any meal.”

The Brumont La Gascogne isn’t the best Gascon wine I’ve ever had, and no one will ever confuse it with something to make a wine geek get all twitchy. But it’s certainly well worth what it costs, and isn’t that the point? And that’s because the producer understands cheap wine, as it shows on the tasting notes: “…it can accompany almost any meal.”

What more do we want – just a cheap wine that offers value and that we can drink without a lot of fuss? The Brumont La Gascogne ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is a white blend (gros manseng and sauvignon blanc) from southwestern France that does just that. It’s a solid, well-made wine – tart and citrusy, crisp and even a little minerality if you look hard enough. And if it’s not as grapey as I like, that’s not going to stop me from buying and enjoying it again.

And yes, unless you’re serving prime rib, you can drink this with anything from Chinese takeout to hamburgers to roast chicken to one of those salads made with all the leftovers in the refrigerator..

I took a lot of criticism from California wine devotees for the recent California value post, where I argued that there is almost no value left in the California wine that most of us can afford to drink. The Brumont La Gascogne is a case in point. There are probably only a handful of $10 California wines that are widely available that are of this quality, or of the quality of most $10 Gascon wine. That so many producers in California don’t seem interested in doing this should worry those of us who drink cheap wine.

Mini-reviews 87: Lindemans, Toad Hollow, Dancing Coyote, Mont Gravet

stockwine2Mini-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. This month, two whites you’ll enjoy and two reds you probably won’t.

Lindemans Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($6, sample, 13.5%): It’s not so much that this Australian red tastes like a $6 cabernet, with overly sweet black fruit and lots of fake chocolate oak. It’s that so many wines that cost two and three times as much taste the same way (albeit with better grapes).

Toad Hollow Merlot 2014 ($14, sample, 14.3%): Red from a once great California producer that tastes more like cabernet than merlot, complete with manly tannins. One fix? I put ice cubes in my glass, which toned down the wine enough so that it tasted like merlot.

Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner 2015 ($15, sample, 13%): California white is a well-made, varietally correct version of the Austrian sommelier favorite – which is saying something given the Wine Curmudgeon’s lack of enthusiasm for gruner. Look for citrus and peach and a crisp finish.

Mont Gravet Cotes de Gascogne 2015 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): This is yet another well made and value-drive French white from the region of Gascony, with lots of citrus and a clean finish. It’s not quite white grapey enough for me, but well worth buying and drinking.

Wine of the week: Domaine des Cassagnoles C tes de Gascogne 2013

cassagnolesThis white blend from southern France gives the Wine Curmudgeon a chance to do two of his favorite things: Praise the genius of the winemakers in Gascony, who do what so few others in the world seem capable of ? make great cheap wine without any embarrassment; and criticize wine scores. Is it any wonder Gascon wine makes me so happy?

This vintage of the Cassagnoles ($10, purchased, 11.5%) has less citrus and more white grapiness than previous years, which is my preferred style. That gives the wine more balance, and it tastes less like sauvignon blanc and more like the intriguing cheap wine that it is. Ah, the wonders of the colombard, ugni blanc, and gros manseng grapes.

Best yet, this style makes the Cassagnoles even more refreshing and fruity, truly a bottle that is empty before you realize you have drunk the whole thing. Highly recommended, and it will return to the $10 Hall of Fame next year. My only regret? That we can’t buy it in the U.S. in the 10-liter box (the equivalent of 13 1/3 bottles) that it is sold in in France.

Yet someone, somehow, managed to give the wine 82 points on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app), claiming that it was like pinot grigio and didn’t have any taste. If this wine is only worth 82 points, I’ll drink a bottle of overoaked, too alcoholic California chardonnay, which is probably what that person thinks is tasty.