Category: Wine Criticism

Guess What’s In Your Bourgogne Rouge …

La grappe de raisin, William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1868.

I’ll say it again: I firmly believe any true Burgundy lover will regularly drink entry-level Bourgogne from carefully chosen producers.

Granted, the keywords here are carefully chosen. Some producers’ Bourgogne rouge will be a mind-boggling value, a terroirdriven portal to their house style.  Others will range from serviceable to saddening.

As I’m skeptical of négociants’ ability to produce quality, inexpensive wine at such a massive scale across vintages (30,000 bottles in 2011, according to this source), I’d wanted to taste the 2013 Bouchard Père et Fils Bourgogne rouge before committing to a first 5 cases for the wine shop. I sold a pallet of the 2012 Bourgogne rouge, and was proud to offer a pleasant red Burgundy to customers insisting on Pinot Noir under $20. It was a value workhorse of sorts, one that I could actually envisage drinking at home.

I ended up bringing the 2013 in; it does the trick at $20. But while tasting the 2013 Bouchard Bourgogne rouge, I stumbled upon a question for which I had no answer.

The 2013 Bouchard Bourgogne rouge was decidedly more stern than the 2012; it immediately fetched a sense memory of Irancy reds.

You’ll probably never see an Irancy; in part because there aren’t many, and in part because Irancy are strangely earthy, alien reds, to which few wine buyers will commit resources. Irancy are always red, and are Pinot Noir with bits of César — a wildly tannic, rare grape allowed only in the Yonne region — growing in Chablis-like Kimmeridgian limestone marls. César can constitute up to 10% of Irancy reds. (Click to Read more)

Portugal’s Ageworthy White Wines and the Cinderella Myth

When most folks think of Portuguese white wine, they think of Vinho Verde, and involuntarily dredge up a tired set of stereotypes:

“This wine is only good up to a year after release. This wine is fizzy and sweet. This wine isn’t serious — it’s just cheap and easy.”

This does a disservice to a country whose wines will dazzle so many serious wine drinkers. Shortest internet quiz ever:

Are you always adding slices of lemon to your drinking water?

If so, you’re not just doing something healthy, you’re predisposed to amazing, undervalued Portuguese white wines. You crave acid and citrus — the very heart and soul of Portuguese whites grown in granite soils.

Two Portuguese regions are dominated by granite: Vinho Verde and the Dão, and each produce stunning whites. And yes, even Vinho Verde makes terroir-driven wines that can age. Vinho Verde is the land of acid surprises, and below are only a few examples of what you can buy without flying to Lisbon for fairly absurd prices. (Click to Read more)

The Wildness That Courses Through Languedoc Reds

There’s a 400 lb monster that rustles through the garrigues of the Languedoc, a snarling, horned beast with an appetite for grapes.

It can destroy an entire vineyard in a single night. And each vigneron is convinced it only wants their grapes. “It LOVES Vermentino!’ “Ah, but it doesn’t just eat Vermentino, I can assure you! It destroyed 75% of one of my vineyards in one night — 15% of my crop!”

Surrounding your vineyard with electrified wire helps a bit, but ultimately, you can’t be present day and night to protect it. Only solution? Call in the hunters.

A great deal of the Languedoc is still an untamed, wild place, especially near the Cévennes National Park, where these wild boars roam.  Unsurprisingly, the wild boars wander down from the forest into vineyards; and perhaps equally unsurprisingly, this wild side of Languedoc terroir wanders into the wines — particularly the red blends.

Consider Jean-Marie Rimbert’s Saint-Chinian ‘Le Mas Au Schiste’. I’ve consumed cases of this wine over the years, and always wondered exactly what accounted for the unique, savage aromas that course through it.

2010 Domaine Rimbert Saint-Chinian Mas Au Schiste, with Provençal rabbit and garlicky beans.

The 2010 Rimbert Saint-Chinian Mas Au Schiste brings to mind fading roses, bitter chocolate, sweet candied fennel, (Click to Read more)