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Tag Archives: French wine

Wine of the week: Guy Saget Pinot Noir La Petite Perriere 2012

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guy saget pinot noirRegular visitors here know how difficult it is to find affordable pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir, even if you’re willing to spend as much as $20. The weak dollar is one reason, but quality Oregon and California pinots are equally as pricey. It’s just the way pinot is — the cheap stuff, even if it’s worth drinking, doesn’t taste like pinot, and the expensive stuff, even if it tastes like pinot, is priced beyond all but five percent of us.

That’s why I tried the Saget pinot noir ($13, sample, 12.5%), even though my hunch was that it would be difficult to find unless you lived in a big city with a top-notch independent wine shop. But the Wine Curmudgeon was that desperate.

The good news is that the wine is well worth looking for. The Saget is labeled French, which means the grapes to make it came from all over the country. This has not been a common practice for quality wines, but is becoming more common after the European Union relaxed appellation rules. The result is a delightful and refreshing pinot, with red berry fruit and a hint of tannins and oak. In one respect, it’s almost Beaujolais in style, but without the grapiness. What I liked best is that it tastes more or less like inexpensive Oregon pinot, when there was inexpensive Oregon pinot.

The Saget is light enough for summer and simple dinners anytime of year, but pinot enough to be enjoyable. Highly recommended, and I hope you can find it. There’s a retail location widget on the importer’s website, and that’s the first place to look.

Expensive wine 65: Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny 2003

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Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-MusignyThe Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact he would never get to taste most of the world’s great wines. Even if I could afford them, what with prices like $500 for a bottle of Cheval Blanc from an ordinary vintage, availability is difficult.

Which is why I’m always grateful when The Big Guy brings a bottle of Burgundy to the house. These French wines — the red is pinot noir and the white is chardonnay — are his favorites, and we always have a terrific time marveling at how well the Burgundians put them together, and always seem to get a whole that is greater than the parts.

The Hudelot-Noellat ($60, purchased, 13%) is no exception. The producer is one of the most respected in the region, one of those family businesses that make Burgundy We tasted it about 18 months ago, and it was still young and lively, with a zingy, almost tangy fruit aroma and a wonderful burst of red fruit (strawberry, as hard as that is to believe) in the middle. He brought another bottle over last month, and the wine had calmed down quite a bit. It’s probably ready to drink; the fruit is starting to become part of the wine, and isn’t something that stands out. It’s a wonder of oak and tannins, a lesson in how to use oak in pinot noir and how to craft tannins that give the wine structure but don’t overwhelm it.

This is an elegant, subtle wine, one that is gone before you notice what has happened, and then you wonder why there isn’t any left. It’s a reminder of just how good red Burgundy can be, and why it’s so expensive.

Fourth of July wine 2014

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Fourth of July wine 2014Why does the Wine Curmudgeon do a Fourth of July wine post (for seven consecutive years, in fact)? Because the holiday is a birthday party, and what do we do at birthday parties? Drink wine and celebrate, of course.

Consider these bottles for your Fourth of July wine — and don’t forget the porch wine concept, where what you drink has as much to do with how hot it is as anything else:

• Villa des Anges Old Vines Rosé 2013 ($9, purchased, 12%): This rose from the south of France, made with cinsault, features barely ripe strawberries and is so fresh that it almost doesn’t taste like wine. Highly recommended, and certain to be in the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame. Yet another example of what a great grape cinsault is for rose.

Pacific Rim Riesling 2011 ($10, sample, 11.5%): Washington state white is medium dry, with a touch of lime fruit, honey in the middle, and wonderful oiliness. A sophisticated sweet wine, and especially for the price. Chill this, sit on the porch, and you won’t mind too much how hot it is.

Handcraft Petite Sirah 2011 ($10, sample, 14.5%): Intriguing, inexpensive California red that benefits from the addition syrah and zinfandel — more structure, less over the top fruit. It has petite sirah’s plumminess and spice, but isn’t too heavy (despite the alcohol).

• Gloria Ferrer Private Cuvee NV ($15, purchased, 12.5%): This sparkling wine, without a UPC code, was on sale at Kroger at  one-third of what it would have cost in the restaurant where it was supposed to be. How it ended up in a grocery store is a mystery, but if you see it at this price, buy it — firm bubbles, some caramel, and fresh green apple fruit. Failing that, the  Ferrer Sonoma Brut, often on sale around this price, is an equally fine value.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2013

Fourth of July wine 2012
Wine of the week: Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
My lunch with Provence

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