QUESTION ABOUT FRENCH WINES
considered myself a political moderate, someone who is in the middle on social
issues with a conservative bent on the fiscal side.
I am, however, patriotic to the core, and fully supported the position of
the WinoStuff staff in boycotting the French during their support for Saddam
Hussein a year ago. Boycotting
French wines really didn’t matter too much to me.
Other than a few cases of French Rhones, my cellar is primarily
Californian, with overtures to Spain and Italy.
Recently, several articles have surfaced in some of the rags that I read
(Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc.), praising the prices and taste of French
that interested me the most was one in Forbes FYI called “France on $20
a Day”. Richard Nalley recommends
25 French wines priced at under $20 per bottle.
With credit to Nalley and Forbes, I’ll list his recommended wines
later. In advance, I’ll make my
first comment. I challenge WB and
WJ and other readers to see how many of these wines they can find in their local
establishment. There are 9,000 plus
“chateaux” in Bordeaux alone. I
purchase most of my wine locally from a wine superstore who sends buyers to
France to directly purchase case allotments from the vineyards versus through a
middleman. I doubt that I’ll be
able to find half of these recommended wines.
But, I’ll try and will scribe a line or two in a subsequent article
about my success or lack thereof.
Four wines are
listed from Bordeaux. They
Bonnet 2002, Entre-Deux-Mers (white) $10/bottle.
A Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend.
Coutale 2001, Cahors $14/bottle. Malbec,
Greysac, Medoc 1999 $17/bottle.
Air 1999, Haut-Medoc $12/bottle.
is my favorite area of France, solely because my maternal grandmother was born
in Metz in 1889 when the area was part of Germany (I believe it has traded hands
at least 8 times over the centuries). Nalley
says that most Americans ignore Alsace which is too bad given the tendency of
these wines to drink well with food. He recommends three Alsatians.
2001 Pinot Blanc $12/bottle.
Nalley claims this is the number one selling Alsatian wine in the
U.S. He drank his while consuming a fried oyster po’ boy (now
that’s a sandwich, Wino Bob).
2002 Riesling “Classique” $18/bottle.
“Gentil” $11/bottle. This wine is based on Gewurztraminer but is a blend of four
white grapes. Nalley likes the
spicy note. My wife hates
Gewurz’, so I doubt I’ll be drinking this with her.
Leflaive 2002 Bourgogne, “Les Setilles”
$15/bottle. A creamy
Vocoret 2002 Chablis $17/bottle. A
very dry Chablis, the “anti-Californian”.
Potel 2001 Bourgogne, “Maison Dieu”
$17/bottle. Mainly a
Pommard, a red.
Girard 2001 Savigny-les-Beaune $17/bottle.
An old vines Pinot Noir.
out that Beujolais is technically part of Burgundy (technically, but note that
the producers don’t get the same prices as Burgundy appellations), but states
that Beaujolais wines are from the Gamay grape and not the Pinot Noir grape.
He recommends looking for wines from the ten name villages in the area:
Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon,
Moulin-a-Vent, Regnie, and St-Amour.
three price values:
Joel Rochette 2002 Brouilly, “Pisse-Vielle”
Pierre Savoye 2000 Morgon, “Cuvee de Vieilles Vignes”
Louis Jadot 2002 Beaujolais-Villages, Chateau de Jacques, “Grand Clos
An old vines Chardonnay from Beaujolais. Token white wine.
Who can forget
the Rhones when it comes to French wines? Certainly
not our Wino Bob. Certainly not
Wino John. Certainly not me. I mentioned earlier that a token case of Rhone is about the
only French wine that I stock in my cellar.
Well, maybe a case or two of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Nalley recommends three (and once again, I’m doubting that I’ll find
any of them during my shopping spree this weekend).
Chapoutier 2001 Crozes-Hermitage “Petite Ruche”
$20/bottle. A Syrah
Saint Gayan 2001 Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages Rasteau
d’Aqueria 2002 Tavel (rose) $16/bottle. Great with burgers. Hmm.
The French like burgers, too?
probably the most familiar wine to emanate from the Loire region, despite its
reputation for fine wines. No
wonder that the others are unfamiliar when you look at names like Bourgueil or
Menetou-Salon. Nalley recommends
2002 Vouvray (sec) $15/bottle – A dry Chenin Blanc
& Meyer Saumur, “Cuvee Flamme” (non-vintage)
$18/bottle – Rose
Coulaine 2002 Chinon, “Bonnaventure”
$19/bottle – Cabernet Franc
Vincent Delaporte 2002 Sancerre $20/bottle
– Sauvignon Blanc
Leave it to the
French to butcher up the King’s English.
Why on earth would you call Southern France, the South of France?
If it’s South of France, then it must be Monaco, not another part of
France! With none of the baggage of
the more traditional wine areas of France, the experimentation among grape
varietals is more notable in the South of France than elsewhere.
Nalley reserves his final four wines from this area.
Bres 2001 “Cantarelle” $12/bottle - a
chewy, red blend from four grapes
Caraguilhes 2000, "Corbieres"
$17/bottle – a briary, spicy red wine
Roque 2001, Pic St-Loup “Cuvee Mourvedre”
$14/bottle – another red
Saint Martin de la Garrigue 2001, Coteaux du Languedoc, "Bronzinelle"
$18/bottle – such a long name for a red wine
didn’t intend to turn this article into a lecture on French wines, and neither
did Richard Nalley. As part of my
ongoing efforts to achieve that elusive goal of familiarity with all of the
world’s wine regions, I thought that looking at 25 moderately-priced wines
from France would be a reasonable project.
If successful, I could consume them in 25 days or less (depending on how
well my Blue Devils do in the tournament).
However, I doubt that I’ll find half of these wines.
It continues to amaze me that wine writers and wine publications can tout
wines that the average Wino cannot find if they had access to all the liquor
stores in their state. In fact, the
odds are good that most of these wines are not sold in half of the U.S. states. Hell, some imports never make it out of New York, depending
on the number of cases imported. If
you’re curious, print out this article or cut and past the 25 wines on a
single sheet of paper. Take it to
your best retailer and see how many of these can be purchased.
Winos Bob, John, and Mike, let me know how well you do.
If I’m successful, I’ll surface with an article in a few weeks (and
this time, it will probably involve golf, travel, that bottle of 1996 Chateau
St. Jean, and ….).
March 27, 2004