• 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.