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Category Archives: French wine

Wine of the week: Chateau Recougne 2009

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Château RecougneThe Chateau Recougne, a French red blend, is an excellent example of the pricing dilemma facing U.S. wine consumers. At $10, this is a Hall of Fame wine, but increase the price by one-third, and it’s not nearly as impressive.

So what did I pay for the Chateau Recougne ($13, purchased, 13%)? One-third more than $10, of course. None of this means that the Recougne, mostly merlot from a lesser part of Bordeaux called Bordeaux Superieur, isn’t well made or enjoyable, because it is and especially for an older wine. There is more oak and fruit (black cherry?) than I expected, but there is also some earthiness and the proper balance between all of the parts. It’s a little New World for my taste, but I enjoyed it and would buy it again.

Which brings us back to price. Does the Chateau Recougne offer one-third more value than the Little James Basket Press or McManis’ gold-medal petite sirah? Not really, and that’s the dilemma: How do we decide what to buy, given the incredible selection of wine to choose from and the lack of information to help us make that decision? The Recougne label isn’t much help, though it looks very French, and since I bought it at a grocery store, there was no one to ask.

My colleagues and I regularly argue about whether Americans buy wine on price; the Recougne seems to be argument that we do. If there’s a similar $10 wine next to it on the shelf, given an equal lack of information, how many of us won’t pay one-third less?

Wine of the week: Alliance Loire La Clotière Rose 2012

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La Clotiere roseOne of the Wine Curmudgeon’s best friends in the wine writing business hates rose. This is something I have never understood, because his palate is impeccable in almost every other way. He is even open minded when he tastes Tennessee wine, hardly something that one sees very often.

So, Tom, the La Clotiere rose ($10, purchased, 12%), made with the gamay grape in the Loire region in France, is for you. It’s not a dry white wine that happens to be pink, something you insist is the case with most roses. Rather, since it’s made with the same grape that’s used for Beaujolais, it’s soft like that style of red wine. But because it’s much more than just a red wine that’s pink, there is also an almost tropical fruit flavor along with the cherry, and the softness is balanced by a bright acidity that gives the wine a surprising freshness. And, of course, it’s dry.

The La Clotiere rose is an excellent example of the quality and value that one can find in modern rose, and is exactly the kind of wine to review in anticipation of tomorrow’s annual rose extravaganza. I stumbled on it while looking for something else, and bought it because it’s almost impossible to find a badly made $10 rose anymore. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Cave de Lugny Mâcon-Villages 2012

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Wine of the week: Cave de Lugny Mâcon-Villages 2012One of the most amazing things about the Golden Age of Cheap Wine is that it’s amazing despite the dollar’s weakness against the euro. Its decline, dating to the beginning of this century, has increased the price of European goods by as much as 20 percent, and cheap wine has mostly followed suit.

Case in point are the French wines from Cave de Lugny, a growers’ cooperative in the Macon region in Burgundy, which makes some of the best grocery store whites in the world. The catch, thanks to the weak dollar, is that they aren’t priced like grocery store wines these days, costing $15 or more. Which is why I haven’t reviewed a Cave de Lugny wine in three years.

Which is also why the Wine Curmudgeon was so excited to see Lugny’s Macon-Villages ($10, purchased, 13%) at this price. And, frankly, I should have bought more than one bottle. It’s a chardonnay that is always dependable and always varietally correct, made in the traditional Macon style — no oak. That means some lemon and green apple fruit, lots of crispness, and a very clean finish that hints at the minerality of a more complex wine.

Serve this chilled with almost any white wine dish. And if you see other Lugny wines, like the Les Charmes, for $10 or so, don’t hesitate to buy it. You can enjoy it while pondering the mysteries of exchange rates and international banking.

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