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Tag Archives: French wine

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.

Wine of the week: Le Coq Rouge 2012

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Le Coq Rouge The Le Coq Rouge is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge wine before you taste it. Because it offers plenty of reasons to do just that:

• Cutesy label. How many chickens, birds, and assorted fowl have we endured over the years?

• Odd Rolling Stones referece in marketing material, because Coq Rouge means Red Rooster in French, and the Stones covered Howlin’ Wolf’s “Little Red Rooster.”

• Descriptors that bear no relationship to the wine, including “a lovely mix of chocolate and vanilla” and “wooded notes” — whatever that is.

Chalk it up to French marketing envy, under the mistaken impression that American consumers need that kind of foolishness. What does matter is the wine’s pedigree and what’s in the bottle, and both are impressive.

The Le Coq Rouge ($10, sample, 13.5%) is from the company run by Sacha Lichine, whose father was the legendary Alexis Lichine, one of the men who gets credit for introducing Americans to wine. The wine is mostly grenache, with enough red fruit to be pleasant but not so much as to confuse it with other, more over the top critter wines. It also has a bit of a back and soft tannins; in this, it’s a more modern version of another red blend from southern France, La Vielle Ferme, but more consistent and better made.

A tip ‘o the Curmudgeon’s fedora to Chris Keel at Put a Cork in It, who did a tasting with this wine when I did a cheap wine book signing at his store last month and put me on to the Coq Rouge. Because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered, despite my best intentions.

 

Wine of the week: Père Anselme Reserve De L’Aube 2011

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pere anselmFlash back to the 1980s, to a time before California grocery store merlot, before livestock wines with cute labels, and even before U.S. wine was much appreciated in the U.S. What did we drink? Something more or less like the Pere Anselme ($8, purchased, 12.5%).

Those wines were notable for three things: They were French, because we were supposed to drink French wine in those days. They were cheap, because that’s all we could afford to drink (not yet having learned that cheap wine is worthy of a lifetime of drinking). And they were, to be kind, uneven in quality. Sometimes they were rough and tannic, other times green and unripe, and sometimes both. But what did we know? We were drinking French wine. In an era when women’s dresses had shoulder pads, that was pretty damned sophisticated.

The good news about the Anselm, a red blend with syrah and merlot from the Langeudoc in southern France and made by a leading producer of Rhone wines, is that it doesn’t have the technical flaws those older wines did. It’s ripe, it’s more or less in balance, and it even speaks to the terroir — some earthiness, simple black fruit, a hearty finish, and what the wine geeks like to call the smell of violets.

Serve this with any red meat; it does need food, another hallmark of those 1980s-style wines. The Anselm is not Hall of Fame quality, but it is the kind of wine you buy and drink and feel happy about. That’s not a bad recommendation for any wine, is it?

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