Posts in France
Recent Alsace Revelations

I would think Alsace would be more appreciated in the US considering how the US loves richness stemming from viscosity. Yet whatever the textural appeal, Alsace often has what is for most US imbibers an odd earthy element. Typically, that aromatic deepens as the wines become older. However, these three Grand Crus seem to defy the stereotypes.

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The Lovelies of a Lambasted Bordeaux Vintage

It is such a shame that the wine world these days makes a proclamation on a vintage just as it slides out of its fermenter into an aging vessel. (In fact, it’s often done well before.) Dialed-in wine lovers know it’s absurd, but many still dose-up on the fear of buying the wrong vintage. A fine example is Bordeaux’s 2011 vintage, which is still a bit tight and wound-up, yet it is opening up now to offer some excellent, mid-term drinkability.

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Solid Beaujolais For Any Day

The world is awaiting the release of Beaujolais Nouveau, but there's cracking good Beaujolais of all sorts and deeper dimensions ready on your retail shelf now. Here are just a few examples, and each is well worth the few extra bucks. Santé!

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Three Smart Bordeaux Whites for $25 or Less

Château La Grande Métairie 2014 Entre-Deux-Mers: Youthful, fresh and exuberant, this 56% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sauvignon Gris and 9% Muscadelle blend is the epitomy of bang-for-the-buck, true-blue Entre-Deux-Mers. Its producer is neither trying to make it a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc nor is it “oaking-it-up” to try to make a flashier, less characteristic wine for the appellation.

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Two Affordable 2009 Bordeaux Reds

The 2009 vintage was a killer year in Bordeaux, appealing particularly to those palates that love blockbuster wine styles. Declared the vintage of the (still-very-new) century before the grapes were even off the vine, the prices rocketed into the stratosphere. Yet, relative bargains from well-known appellations can be found. Here are two I recently came across.

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Château Tanesse 2012 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux

Château Tanesse 2012 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux: Nuanced, if hardly subtle, the wine smells of blackberries, loganberries, blueberries, briar patch and smoked beef. This wine is one of many that proves that the various “Côtes” appellations of Bordeaux make for excellent drinking while sparing the wallet.

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Wine List Pick: Comptoir Cuisine (Bordeaux, France)

Comptoir Cuisine sits on Bordeaux’s grand, central square across from its ornate and brightly-lit opera house. Classically Bordelais, its wine list is a compendium of the region’s well-known names with vintages mostly extending back across the last decade. Diners need not worry about picking a lemon from this smartly-curated list.

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Wine List Pick: Aldo Sohm Wine Bar (Manhattan, New York)

The unassuming and ultimate wine guru host Aldo Sohm just opened a wine bar with chef Eric Ripert. The duo has long worked their Midtown magic at Le Bernardin, which connects to the wine bar by underground passage. In this chic yet comfy space permeated by 60’s, 70’s and 80’s tunes, you can feast on wine selections geared to the geek, yet not foreign to the main-streamer.

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Reflections on Chablis

Chablis trumps the Côte d’Or in 2012 whites. While Chablis also experienced hail, it came in April before the berries set. This reduced the crop size from the very start - earlier-harvesting areas lost anywhere between 5 to 10% to up to 30% in the Grand and Premier Crus.

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Reflections on the Côte Chalonnaise & Mâconnais

The wines of these terroirs represent some of Burgundy’s best values, and Burgundy is in sore need of values. The occasional gem that will age to benefit is a both a steal and a prize.

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Hit & Miss: Château Lassègue 2005 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé with Duck Sausage & Pork Shoulder with Demi-Glace

Vintage 2005 was among the best Bordelais vintages in the last 20 years. This wine epitomizes its force. Nine years on, it isn’t showing a hint of development. It’s belligerently youthful.

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Wine List Pick: The Ryland Inn (Whitehouse Station, New Jersey)

Value and splurge coexist in this deep collection, so peruse if you have the time. The Ryland Inn presumably inherited the cellar of the restaurant formerly inhabiting its space, accounting for its nice smattering of back vintages, including from regions other than you usually expect – namely Burgundy and Bordeaux.

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Hit & Miss: Domaine de la Meynarde 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu with Extra Mature Cheddar & Seared Lamb Chops

This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan offers a rich and welcoming nose of briar patch fruits entirely absent of oak influence. The tannins caress softly and the acidity lurks subtly. The voluptous and youthful loveliness of the very pure fruit make for easy sipping.

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