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Tag Archives: French wine

Expensive wine 76: Chateau Pontet-Canet 2003

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Chateau Pontet-CanetHow 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.

Again, this is not to criticize its quality, but to note how little the Bordeaux market has to do with reality. You could buy four terrific bottles of Chablis for the same price; three bottles of a Ridge zinfandel, maybe the best value in the U.S.; or two bottles of Pio Cesare Barbaresco, one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted.

If and when the French understand this, they’ll understand why 90 percent of the world is priced out of Bordeaux. Until then, I’ll somehow live without it.

Fourth of July wine 2015

July-4th-Fireworks-in-San-Jose

Fourth of July wineWhat do many of us do when we celebrate a birthday? Drink wine, of course, whether it’s for a toast or for a birthday dinner. So why not do the same thing when the United States celebrates its birthday?

Best yet, the Fourth of July is a terrific porch wine holiday, a concept that doesn’t get enough attention in our rush to drink as much heavy, over-oaked, and too much alcohol wine because our wine betters tell us we’re supposed to.

So consider these wines as a starting point for your July 4 celebration (and all with a July 4 connection):

Listel Grain de Gris Rose 2014 ($12, purchased, 12.5%): This very pale rose, from Camargue in Van Gogh country in the south of France, is unlike almost any French rose I’ve ever had. There’s freshness and lots of soft strawberry fruit, but it’s not crisp or tart. Having said that, it’s still fun to drink, and the bottle is gone before you realize it. And, of course, we wouldn’t have won the Revolutionary War without French money, troops, and ships.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Tried and true California sparkler with firm bubbles and apple and citrus fruit — and is widely available. Price isn’t bad, either, given how ridiculous most Champagne prices are.

Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($14, sample, 13.4%): This California white is only going to get better with age, and it’s well done now — aromatic grassiness and some citrus, plus clean, crisp, and a solid finish.

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2010 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): This Spanish tempranillo — Spain being another important U.S. ally in 1776 — has lots of oak and cherry fruit in some sort of balance, though not as subtle as more expensive reservas. Still, better than most of the world’s $10 wine, and just what you want for a July 4 barbecue.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2014

Fourth of July wine 2013
Fourth of July wine 2012
Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Ressò 2013

Father’s Day wine 2015

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Father's day wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon got a bunch of emails over the past couple of weeks extolling various studies about what dads want for Father’s Day, who buys dad his Father’s Day present, and the most common Google searches for Father’s Day gifts. Most of which was a lot of effort for nothing, because everyone here knows that Father’s Day wine 2015 is the ultimate gift.

Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”

Suggestions for Father’s Day wine 2015:

Tintonegro Malbec Uco Valley 2012 ($14, sample, 14%): Know how too much Argentine malbec tastes like dark-flavored grape juice? Not this one, which was among the highlights of my El Centro wine class tastings. Look for dark fruit and more freshness than I thought possible in a malbec. Highly recommended (steaks on the grill), and a steal at this price.

Jolie Folle Rose 2014 ($10/1-liter bottle, purchased, 12.5%): The ultimate porch rose, in that this French pink wine is simple enough (sort of lemony-cranberry fruit) to be enjoyable and offers a couple of extra glasses because of the bigger bottle at the smaller bottle price.

Cruz de Piedra Blanco 2014 ($9, purchased, 13%): I suppose there are some crappy cheap Spanish wines to be found, but I’ve yet to find one yet. This white, made with macabeo, usually useed for cava, offers some of the Spanish bubbly’s fruit flavor (lemony-apple?) and a wonderful freshness — and somehow, once, got 86 points from the Wine Spectator. Serve chilled on its own or with any grilled seafood or even brats.

Los Dos 2013 ($8, purchased, 14%): This Spanish red blend, with garnacha and syrah, never fails to amaze me, and this vintage is even better than the 2012 (which was terrific). Lots of red fruit from the garnacha, and the syrah adds some heft and balance.

More about Father’s Day wine:
Father’s Day wine 2014
Father’s Day wine 2013
Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Resso 2013
Expensive wine 73: Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Poncié 2013

 

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