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Tag Archives: French wine

Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, Chablis

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Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, ChablisReviews 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.

Wairau River Chardonnay 2012 ($22, sample, 13%): Professionally made California-style chardonnay from New Zealand, with green apple fruit and enough oak to be noticed but not to be offensive. Having said that, why spend $22 for it when there are similar wines costing one-third less?

Bodega Garzón Tannat 2012 ($20, sample, 13.8%): Tannat is a red grape that has caught on with wine geeks, and this bottle from Uruguay is well made, if pricey. But, save for a funky aroma, it tastes a lot like $15 California central coast merlot without any of tannat’s grip.

M. Chapoutier Rosé Belleruche 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Dependable French rose has increased in price by almost one-third (thanks to a new importer?), which makes it a lot less dependable. Wine itself is OK, though this vintage has more strawberry fruit and less crispness. But there are dozens of $10 roses with same quality or better.

Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2012 ($20, purchased, 12.5%): This chardonnay from Chablis region of Burgundy in France was sadly  disappointing — thin and almost watery, with very little of the crisp, fresh green apple fruit that makes Chablis so wonderful. May have been corked, which is yet another reason for screwcaps. If not, the producer has serious quality control problems.

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.

 

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