Flash 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?