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Wine of the week: La Vielle Ferme Red 2009

Wine of the week: La Vielle Ferme Red 2009

The Wine Curmudgeon, faced with a dilemma about what to choose for this week’s wine of the week, called on one of his vast army of secret shoppers. Her instructions? Find an $8 to $12 wine at a national retailer that meets our exacting wine of the week requirements. Also part of the mission: Ask a store employee for help in selecting the wine. What would he or she recommend at that price (without revealing, of course, that their advice would be revealed to the vast cyber audience of the blog)?

The secret shopper — call her Deep Wine — told the employee she needed several bottles for a party, and that the person who brought the wine that the other guests liked the most would win a prize. (This is actually a nifty way to throw a wine party, which I have been meaning to write about for a couple of years but never seem to get around to.) The retailer recommended three wines: a $7 Chilean pinot noir that didn’t taste remotely like pinot noir, a $9 California merlot that made me wonder how far cheap California merlot had fallen, and the La Vieille ($8, purchased).

The retailer’s recommendations are fascinating, and well worth delving into later. Her first two choices were dry wines that were full of sweet fruit, not unlike the livestock wines that dominate the under-$10 market. The La Vieille, on the other hand, tasted like wine. A red blend from southern France, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and there was not a glop of sweetish black fruit toward the front that covered everything else up. Instead, it was balanced, with some red fruit and enough tannins to be noticeable but not annoying.

This was not surprising, since the La Vieille has been a sturdy, if not always consistent, cheap wine for almost as long as I have been doing this. Deep Wine, while not as unhappy with the merlot as I was, thought the La Vieille easily the only quality wine of the three. It’s an excellent example of a wine to keep on hand when you feel like a glass of wine.

  • Dan H.

    Even better, they sell it in a box, which makes it even better if you only want to have one glass, when you want a glass.
    Also just saw a box of the 2008 Domaine Grand Veneur Côtes du Rhône Réserve at the local Whole Foods which is a more solid attempt of the same idea (and more expense)….

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffsiegel Jeff Siegel

    I like the La Vieille rose, Dan H., and have been meaning to write it about. It’s like the red — sold and mostly dependable. Have not seen the La Vieille boxes in Dallas, which would be nice to buy. And will look for the Grand Veneur.

  • Dan H.

    It must be La Vielle Ferme week on the blogs. Nice piece from the WSJ on the white – http://blogs.wsj.com/wine/2010/09/30/a-white-wine-to-drink-daily/?mod=rss_WSJBlog. I’ve only tried the Rose, but I’ll definitely pick up the white and give it a shot.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffsiegel Jeff Siegel

    How weird is that? And especially from the legendary Lettie Teague (http://excellentproj.com/2010/08/14/update-the-very-helpful-wall-street-journal/)?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/d99921157087270669 Govt Scam

    This stuff should never have been bottled, pure garbage. Anyone claiming it is good is crazy.

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