France tagged posts

A Killer Single Vineyard Red Burgundy for $26

May 10, 2017 Daily Drinkers  No comments

FullSizeRender-4Burgundy is the most expensive wine region in the world, and it frankly has a spotty track record - when the wines are on, they are breathtaking, but when they are off, they are expensive disappointments.  This seems to be changing for the better, but time will be the judge.  Knowing this, I'm always excited to try a well reviewed burg in the $30 or less range.  Most choices in this range are generic "bourgone", but I recently had a chance to drink a wine from a single parcel in the southern Santenay region that really impressed me.

From vines ranging in age from 30 to 80 years old, the 2014 Domaine Vincent & Sophia Morey Santenay Les Hates could almost fool you as a California wine on the nose, with good ripeness and a little oak showing.  On the palate earthy burgundy flavors

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Stunning Chablis from Louis Michel (Under $30)

April 18, 2017 90+ Bargains  No comments

Louis Michel ChablisThis weekend we held a blind tasting of three Premier Cru Chablis from Louis Michel.  I expected the wines to be good (they were), but what really surprised me was just how different they were.  Each 1er cru vineyard has a certain reputation and this tasting showed that the reputation is dead on - two tasters were able to correctly call all three of the wines.  The fact that 2014 is the Chablis vintage of the decade, doesn't hurt.

Before we get into the wines, let's discuss Chablis.  This is one of the few remaining cases where the very best examples of a grape can still be had for a value price.  Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes on the northern side of Burgundy.  The cool climate results in super crisp, high acid wines that, to my taste, are exactly what Chardonnay should

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A 1er Cru Red Burgundy Under $50

January 11, 2016 High End Values  No comments

jadot_beaune_1er_cru_LRGLet's get this out of the way early.  Burgundy is overpriced.  Forget Napa, Bordeaux or any other of the top winemaking regions.  Burgundy is where the world's most expensive wine is made.  To make matters worse, the region's marginal climate makes for some bad vintages and bad wines.

Ferarri's are overpriced too.  They are fussy and hard to keep running, but much like the wines of Burgundy, when they are performing, they are brilliant.

That brings us to the wine at hand.  Louis Jadot's 2012 Beaune 150th Anniversary 1er Cru.  Unlike the "reserve" moniker here in the U.S., "Premier (1er) Cru" actually means something in France.  It's a designation given to only the best vineyards in the best regions.  Jadot only makes this wine in the best vintages and if the 92-94 point score from

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Beaucastel’s Gigondas la Gille- A Pegau Lookalike ($25.95)

October 9, 2015 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

perrinn_gigondas_gille_LRGPerrin et Fils is best known for their Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($80), but they have extensive holdings throughout the Rhone valley.  In fact, their "reserve" Cotes du Rhone , at around $13, is a go-to wine for me when I'm trying to find something drinkable in a Florida grocery store (no easy task).

Moving up a significant step to the second greatest appellation in Southern Rhone (next to CdP), the 2010 Gigondas la Gille is a very impressive wine.  With three 92 point scores, one would expect something special, but this really blew me away.  Though one would expect some Beaucastel character in this wine, I found it to be a dead ringer for Pegau.  One of the most identifiable wines in the world, Pegau has a wild black olive character that this wine possesses in scores.  At 1/3 the

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Better than (Most) Champagne and Half the Price (RP92, $18.95)

May 26, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

gaudrelle_cremant_LRGIn the infamous words of golf commentator Gary Koch, this wine is "better than most" - most Champagne that is.

I found a little wine shop in Chicago that had this sparkler for $22.  Every time we had guests in town, I bought a couple of bottles - one to drink with the guests and one to drink without!  Every time, I was blown away by this Loire sparkling wine because it outperformed many of the recent $50 Champagne, at half the price.  Sadly, after a few months, the Chicago store sold out and I was forced to move on to less tasty sparklers. Until today...

L.A. Wine Co. has this awesome sparkler, which received 92 points from Robert Parker, for $18.95.  Buy it by the case, serve it to guests, and even those with the most sophisticated palates will assume it's Champagne, unless they

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92 Point Rhone Red for $11.95 – Domaine Cabirau Cotes du Roussillon

November 17, 2014 90+ BargainsUnder $12 Deals  No comments

Cabriau

Value seekers need to discover the Roussillon appellation of the southern Rhone Valley fast!  Where else in the world can you find highly rated reds for less than $15?

Today's wine is from a winery recently purchased by successful importer Dan Kravitz.  This is one of the best wines in the world for the price.  It features bright red fruits on the nose and sweet strawberry on the palate accented by superb minerality.  The super long finish speaks to the quality of the old vines Grenache.  That grape combined with smaller amounts of Carignan and Syrah, create a complex and incredibly polished wine at any price.  At $12, it's frankly incredible.  Furthermore, this wine is bottled under screwcap so it will remain fresh and will be without the risk of cork taint.  Bravo to this case

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90 Point Rhone under $12 – Chateau Bizard Grignan les Adhemar Montagne de Raucoule (WA90, $11.95)

September 25, 2014 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Chateau Bizard 2011

From the Southern Rhone appellation of Grignan-les Adhemar (new to me), comes this killer Syrah-based blend from Chateau Bizard.  As the years go by, my daily drinker wines have experienced some "price creep".  Besides spending more, the other problem with this phenomenon is I'm getting quite a bit more picky about what I consider a quality wine.  The grading curve has simply been raised.


That said, this is a rock solid Syrah.  It blends southern Rhone and fruit exuberance with northern Rhone cut and focus (it's from the north part of southern Rhone).  You might say it's the best of both (old) worlds. Furthermore, finding a domestic wine, Syrah or otherwise, that even approaches this quality is completely impossible.
Buy Here: 2011 Chateau Bizard Grignan

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Under $12 Deals – A Crisp White Burgundy (RP91, $11.95)

December 6, 2013 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Marie-Pierre ManciatWhite Burgundys are some of the most sought after and expensive white wines in the world with well rated, and even marginally rated examples selling for well over $100 per bottle.  So when I saw this Chardonnay from the Mâcon region had received 91 points from Parker himself and it was priced at $12, I had to try it.

Last night I grabbed this bottle and headed to our favorite BYOB where it went perfectly with the pan-roasted skate wing special.  This wine is a stark contrast to the big buttery domestic Chardonnay style.  It features crisp acid and beautiful notes of peach and pear.  It sees no wood, so you end up with a very focused wine that's a perfect fit for seafood.

I've been very impressed with several of the 2011's from the Mâcon region of Burgundy - an area increasingly

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Under $12 Deals – Guigal Cotes du Rhone is Great EVERY Year (RP89, $11.95)

October 24, 2013 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Guigal Cotes du Rhone LabelOccasionally I find myself in two separate circumstances where I am in need of reasonably-priced, good wine (vs. reasonably-priced bad wine).  1.) I'm traveling and need to pick up a go-to wine at an unfamiliar liquor store or grocery store and 2.) I'm having a group of people over and I don't want to break the bank.  Guigal's 2010 Cotes du Rhone would work perfectly for both circumstances.  They make over 1 million bottles per year, so it's easy to come by and it's consistently really good.

In France, where all but the best wines (and sometimes even those) are made by purchasing grapes from village communes, there is one way to make good wine.  Pay higher prices for the best grapes.  That's precisely the approach the famous Guigal family takes with their generic Cotes du Rhone

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90+ Bargains: 2010 Domaine la Garrigue Vacqueyras (RP91, $17.95)

February 7, 2013 90+ Bargains  No comments

Domaine la Garrigue VacqueyrasYou're going to start noticing a theme on this blog.  Rhone varietals, specifically Grenache and Syrah, are where it's at when it comes to value.  I enjoy a fine Napa Cabernet, French Bordeaux, or Italian Barolo as much as anyone, but if I'm picking a wine off a wine list, or for my personal weeknight enjoyment, I pick a Southern Rhone or domestic Syrah every time.  Why?  It's simple.  Value.  It's easy to get a fantastic Napa Syrah but it will cost you.  Not the case for Rhone varietals - domestic or international.

Vacqueyras wines are often called "mini Chateauneuf du Papes" but this is a wine many CdPs should look up to. It's a full-bodied, concentrated and peppery wine that, at the same time, remains somewhat delicate and refined. A base of Grenache with a spot of Syrah

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