Tag Archives: Gascon wine

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.

Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2013

Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2013How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee, Tariquet ($10, purchased, 10.5%), to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light and I marvel at how refreshing this Gascon wine is when it has no right to be.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise, and wonder at the citrus flavors and at the tropical fruit (pineapple?) in this vintage.

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith, trusting Tariquet every year to make something extraordinary from ordinary colombard and ugni blanc.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints and after I tasted too much grocery store wine, so depressing and so much alike. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. Or at least until the next vintage.

With sincere apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her Sonnets from the Portuguese 43, with the hope she had a sense of humor and is not spinning in her grave, plotting revenge.

Wine of the week: Ch teau du C dre Cedrus Le Blanc 2012

Wine of the week: Ch teau du C dre Cedrus Le Blanc 2012What’s left to say about Gascon white wine blends that hasn’t been said since the first ones appeared in the 2008 $10 Hall of Fame? The same things I’ve been writing all along — cheap, well-made, food-friendly, and tasty. Can’t get too much of a $10 good thing, can we?

The Cedrus ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is more Gascon cheap white wine excellence, colombard and ugni blanc blended together to make a crisp, citrusy wine with the region’s trademark white grapiness and that is clean and delicious. And all for the same price as one of those incredibly dull, all too fruity grocery store red wines that California insists that we drink.

One of these days, I’ll do a Gascon tasteoff, and see which one is the best of the best. Until then, enjoy this abondance — and think about keeping a bottle or two around for the holidays. It’s a terrific wine if anyone stops by, if all you want is something to drink with Chinese takeout, or just feel like a glass after work.

Wine of the week: Domaine des Cassagnoles 2012

55084LA friend read the manuscript for the cheap wine book and said he had a fairly big question: ?Why aren ?t there any wine recommendations Because, of course, all wine books have to have wine recommendations.

The Cassagnoles ($10, purchased, 12%) helps answer his question: It ?s the quintessential cheap white wine ? professionally made and interesting, yet simple enough to appeal to people who are scared of wine and who don ?t want to spend a lot of money for something that they don ?t know.

It ?s produced in the wonderfully white grape and citrus style that defines Gascon white wine, and is made with grapes that don ?t show up too many other places ? one-half colombard, with ugni blanc and gros manseng filling out the blend. It ?s fresh and bright and lively and the bottle is gone before you know it. Wine for weeknight dinners doesn’t get much better than this. That’s why it’s in the $10 Hall of Fame and should stay there for a long while.

But what happens if I recommend it in the book, and a reader can ?t find it locally? Or buys an older vintage, which is worn out and off-putting? Or buys the wine one year when it isn ?t well done, which is possible given the vagaries of the wine business and that the book probably won ?t be updated every year with new recommendations. They ?ll fire off an angry email.

That ?s why the book is about the process of cheap wine ? its history, why cheap wine is possible, what makes a quality cheap wine, and how to find one. Then the reader won ?t be complaining. He or she will will be too busy drinking great cheap wine they found themselves, like the Cassagnoles. What more could I ask for?