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Tag Archives: French wine

Mini-reviews 72: Estancia, Toad Hollow, Les Dauphins, Belleruche

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wine reviewsReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Estancia Chardonnay Unoaked 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): Not very chardonnay-like, with an odd, though pleasant, orange muscat aroma and a hint of sweetness. Chardonnay for people who want it to taste like moscato.

Toad Hollow Risqué ($16, sample, 6%): One of my favorite bubblies, mostly because it’s made using an obscure grape and equally obscure sparkling process. This is the best it has been in years, and one of best sweet sparklers I’ve tasted in a long while. Tight, wonderful bubbles, sweet lemon, and acidity to balance all.

Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Reserve Rouge 2013 ($13, sample, 13%): Grocery store plonk masquerading as award-winning French wine, with lots of flabby sweet red fruit, harsh tannins, and almost nothing else. This is a marketing wine, where what the label looks like is more important than what’s in the bottle.

Chapoutier Belleruche Rose 2014 ($12, sample, $13): Everyone else likes this wine more than I do, and it always shows up on summer rose lists. But it always seems pricey for what it is — sweet, crisp strawberry fruit and not much else.

Wine of the week: Félines Jourdan Picpoul-de-Pinet 2013

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Felines Jourdan picpoulPicpoul, the white wine made with the picpoul grape in southern France, is one of those summertime wines that most Americans, unless they write a wine blog, don’t know about. The catch, of course, is that given the way the wine world works, even if more of us knew about picpoul, we probably wouldn’t be able to buy it. The last time I checked, the retailers that bother (and even the good ones) carry the same picpoul.

Because it’s not chardonnay, and aren’t we supposed to drink chardonnay?

Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon is ever vigilant, and can report that the Felines Jourdan picpoul ($10, sample, 13%) is well worth knowing, buying, and drinking — lots and lots of it, in fact. Jourdan makes a couple of picpouls, which by itself would recommend it to the Wine Curmudgeon. That this version of the Felines Jourdan picpoul is so well done, and offers so much more than almost any other picpoul I’ve tasted, makes it that much better.

Look for the varietal’s trademark tart lemon fruit (picpoul loosely translates as lip-stinger in English), as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle and a little minerality on the finish. Again, not something that a lot of $10, one-note wines have or even consider having.

Drink this chilled on its own or with almost any combination of boiled seafood this summer (or in any of the other nine months, actually). Highly recommended, and almost certain to go into the $10 Hall of Fame in January.

Winebits 387: Syrah, canned wine, Chablis

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canned wineSo long to syrah? Talk to retailers, and they’ll tell you they can’t give away syrah. Now there are Nielsen figures to back that up. Syrah’s sales in grocery stores are down 16 percent over the past year, the worst performance of the nine wines surveyed and three times as bad as the second worst, merlot (also interesting, and probably worth a post on its own). How did this happen? Chalk it up to the usual short-sightedness from the wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media, which kept telling consumers they should  drink wine that was undrinkable. And when consumers said they’d had enough, which they’ve done, there was no Plan B.

Can I have that in a can? What do you do if you’re a Big Wine company and sales tank? Put your wine in a can. That’s what FlipFlop, the Barefoot knockoff from The Wine Group, is doing. The producer will do a four-pack of 250-milliliter cans (about 1 1/3 bottles) for $12. Canned wine, other than as a novelty, has never been popular in the U.S., and this may be an attempt to breathe life in a brand that hasn’t done as well as The Wine Group hoped.

Fake Chablis: A French wine producer has been accused of using grapes from other parts of the country to make Chablis, chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France. All of which is bad enough, but he has apparently been doing it for a decade without anyone noticing. Wine-Searcher.com reports that the Maison Fromont winery put grapes from Provence and the Rhône Valley, where there is very little chardonnay, in the company’s Chablis. How they got away with this for 10 years, until tax records tripped them up, is stunning. Did no one taste the wine? Chablis’ taste is unique, even for white Burgundy. One clue: The company exports 95 percent of its wine.

 

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