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Tag Archives: Gascon wine

Wine of the week: Domaine des Cassagnoles 2012

55084LA friend read the manuscript for the cheap wine book and said he had a fairly big question: “Why aren’t there any wine recommendations?” Because, of course, all wine books have to have wine recommendations.

The Cassagnoles ($10, purchased, 12%) helps answer his question: It’s the quintessential cheap white wine – professionally made and interesting, yet simple enough to appeal to people who are scared of wine and who don’t want to spend a lot of money for something that they don’t know.

It’s produced in the wonderfully white grape and citrus style that defines Gascon white wine, and is made with grapes that don’t show up too many other places – one-half colombard, with ugni blanc and gros manseng filling out the blend. It’s fresh and bright and lively and the bottle is gone before you know it. Wine for weeknight dinners doesn’t get much better than this. That’s why it’s in the $10 Hall of Fame and should stay there for a long while.

But what happens if I recommend it in the book, and a reader can’t find it locally? Or buys an older vintage, which is worn out and off-putting? Or buys the wine one year when it isn’t well done, which is possible given the vagaries of the wine business and that the book probably won’t be updated every year with new recommendations. They’ll fire off an angry email.

That’s why the book is about the process of cheap wine – its history, why cheap wine is possible, what makes a quality cheap wine, and how to find one. Then the reader won’t be complaining. He or she will will be too busy drinking great cheap wine they found themselves, like the Cassagnoles. What more could I ask for?

Wine of the week: Domaine de Pouy 2011

original-2811-1--domaine-de-pouy-ugni-blanc-franceThis Gascon white wine set me up for a 2013 Curmudgie. I saw it in the store, and immediately doubted whether it would be any good, and for no reason other than I was being stupid.

A guy I know at the store talked me into buying it, and the first thing I did the next time I saw him was to apologize for being so cranky. What’s the most important rule in tasting wine? Drink it before you judge it.

The de Pouy ($10, purchased, 10.5% alcohol) is another amazingly fresh, almost grapey wine from Gascony, made with grapes used almost nowhere else in the world. It’s one of many Gascon wines I’ve praised over the past several years, many of which are in the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame.

What sets the de Pouy apart is a green apple sort of citrus note that balances everything and takes the wine where most $10 wines don’t go. Yes, it’s a simple wine, but the best simple wines, like this one, aren’t overdone or insulting. That’s what makes them interesting.

Highly recommended; chill it and drink on its own, or with almost any kind of food that isn’t red meat, a cream sauce, or spaghetti. It should stay in the Hall as long as it costs $10 — and as long as I don’t judge it before I drink it.

Wine of the week: Domaine D’Arton Les Hauts 2011

Domaine D’Arton, a white blend from the Gascony region of France, is great cheap wine, even by the Wine Curmudgeon’s exacting standards. It’s not only on a level with the Gascon wines in the $10 Hall of Fame, but it also demonstrates that wine doesn’t have to come from the same old places and be made with the same old grapes.

The D’Arton ($9, purchased) is an odd blend, even for Gascony, made with mostly colombard and fleshed out with sauvignon blanc (not the region’s best grape) and gros manseng. The result is a dry white with some lemon peel in the front, yet underneath is that wonderful white grapiness that makes Gascon wines so distinctive and so much fun to drink. It's the kind of wine that doesn't require a critic or a sommelier; just a simple dinner or an evening on the porch, friends and conversation.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way, for all the doubters and chardonnay drinkers out there.

Is this a Thanksgiving wine? Is the Wine Curmudgeon a crank about cheap wine?

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