Yes, $14 isn’t cheap, but the Chateau de Ribebon still offers value in red Bordeaux
The amazing thing about the $14 Chateau de Ribebon is not that the 2015 vintage has aged well enough to become a wine of the week, but that the current vintage is the 2016. So someone, somewhere, remembers how to make popularly priced wines that will last.
The Chateau de Ribebon is a traditional red blend, though with more merlot than cabernet sauvignon. Hence, it’s a little softer and a little fruitier (cherries?) than many others, but there are still tannins in the back and it’s nothing like a jumped up New World fruit slurpee.
Pair this with beef, but it’s the sort of wine that would work for coq a vin and even roast chicken.
Reviews 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.
• Ava Grace Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): Light, almost riesling-y sauvignon blanc from California. It’s not bad if you prefer a less intense style, and it’s a fair value; it just tastes like there is a lot of winemaking going on in an attempt to make it less varietal.
• Tasca D’Almerita Nero d’Avola 2016 ($20, sample, 13.5%): Premiumized Italian red from Sicily made in an international style, which means it doesn’t taste like nero d’avola and it’s not very interesting. Imported by Winebow
• Château Malescasse 2016 ($25, sample, 14.5%): There are two ways to look at this French red Bordeaux blend. First, as a French wine that tastes French, with herbal notes, currant fruit, and that French mouth feel. Second, as an every day style of French wine that costs $25. Imported by Austruy Family Vineyard Import
Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018
What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.
These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:
• La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.
• Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017 ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports
• Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.
• Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors. Highly recommended.
Confidences de Prieure-Lichine, a second label red Bordeaux, reminds us just how wonderful these wines can be
In the old days before the recession, the great Bordeaux estates nade two wines. The first was the expensive one, and the other, called a second label, was a more affordable version, made with lesser quality grapes.
The Big Guy bought the Confidences de Prieure-Lichine and brought it to lunch at Dallas’ Urbano Cafe (the blog’s unofficial BYOB restaurant). We were joined by Thibodaux, who finagled a day off from work despite the bossses’ insistence that the business would collapse without her.
The Confidences de Prieure-Lichine was all we hoped it would be – elegant, sophisticated, and oh so Bordeaux. There’s dark fruit (plums? black currants?), the tannins are almost velvety, and the wine has an idea of earthiness, nothing more. It was softer than I expected, but understandable since Prieure-Lichine uses more merlot in the blend than other left bank producers.
It probably won’t age much longer, so drink now. Highly recommended, and the ideal wine to pair with holiday beef, lamb, or even turkey. And it’s yet another reason why scores are so useless. This was a beautiful and delicious wine, yet its average score on Wine-Searcher was 89 points. That’s about what a quality bottle of $10 wine gets.
How silly are Bordeaux wine prices? The Big Guy, who bought the Chateau Pontet-Canet 2003 (13%) almost 10 years ago, should have kept it in case he needed to top up his grandchildren’s college fund. The wine has doubled in value since he paid $60 for it at a Dallas wine shop.
Wine as investment is an alien concept to the Big Guy and I. We buy wine to drink, which is why any review of the Chateau Pontet-Canet has to take into account its ridiculous run-up in price. What’s the point of a $120 wine, even from a producer as reputable as Pontet-Canet — a fifth-growth estate in the 1855 Bordeaux classification that’s often compared to second growths — that doesn’t make you shiver? Because, as well made as it was, and as well as it has aged, and as much as we enjoyed it, it was worth $120 only if the person buying it wanted to flip it like a piece of real estate.
Which you can’t tell from its scores — proving, sadly, that the idea of the Emperor’s New Clothes is never far from wine and that scores can be as corrupt as a Third World dictator. That’s because the only way to keep the market going is to keep throwing lots of points at the wine, which seems to have happened here. I found lots of mid-90s, with nary a discouraging word.
If you get a chance to try it, the Chateau Pontet-Canet has more fruit in the front (blackberry and raspberry) than you’d expect, and which explains Robert Parker’s fondness for it. The tannins were very soft, and the acidity was muted, almost an afterthought. If you sniff really hard, you can smell graphite, which makes the pointmeisters go crazy. The finish is long, but not extraordinarily so, and the impression is of a quality wine that would be a steal at $40 or $50. But memorable, as one reviewer described? Hardly, unless you’re marveling at the demand for a $120 wine that was made 12 years ago.
Mother’s Day wine is about options: wine for a gift, wine for brunch, or wine for dinner? Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon has all possibilities covered, as well as the most important piece of advice when it comes wine gift giving. you ?re buying someone a gift they will like, and not a gift that you think they should like because you know more about wine than they do. In other words, if Mom likes sweet red, then buy her the best sweet red you can afford, and don’t worry about the wine police.
These wines are a start on covering most of the eventualities:
? Vinum Cellars Sparkling Chenin Blanc NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Delicious bubbly that shows what a top-notch California producer can do with the charmat method and the Wine Curmudgeon’s beloved chenin blanc. The wine is slighty sweet, with fine bubbles, lime fruit, and even a bit of spice. This is Mother’s Day brunch wine, and if it is a touch pricey, it is for Mom.
? Ch teau Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Varietally correct right bank Bordeaux, which means earthy, jammy black fruit, smooth tannins, and a merlot sort of finish — not long, but round and full. If you’re planning a barbecue or informal dinner, this French red will make Mom happy.
? Ch teau Sainte Marguerite C tes de Provence 2013 ($18, sample, 12%): Gorgeous onion skin rose from Provence in France that’s worth the price, one of the best roses I’ve tasted in years. Look for fresh red fruit to complement the orange-ish color; what the French call garrigue, an almost herbal aroma; and a very long finish.
? Domaine F lines Jourdan Picpoul 2013 ($10, sample, 13%): White wine from southern France with the picpoul grape’s trademark tart lemon as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle. This is about as well made as $10 picpoul gets, and is a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Let Mom sip it on the porch while she enjoys her holiday.