Inexpensive Burgundies

July 23, 2008

I love Burgundy but do not love the price levels of these beauties. So I am always on the lookout for decent Burgundies at a good price. Today I got one that is fantastic value for the quality. The wine is A. Chopin & Fils “Les Essards” Cote De Nuits Villages. It is fairly high in acidity, still young, but already shows nice complexity and if it spends some time breathing it can become fairly soft. Definitely recommended, especially if you consider that I paid a whopping $25 for the bottle.

Update: the wine really exhibits much deeper, complex characters once you let it open for a couple of hours. I highly recommend to decant this pinot, it will thank you for it.


Name: A. Chopin & Fils, “Les Essards”, Cote De Nuits Villages 2005

Price: $25 (discounted off $35)

Body: Medium

Got it at: Dee Vine Wines, Pier 19, San Francisco

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Affordable Rhones

November 8, 2007

I have a love-hate relationship with Rhone wines. Some of my favorite reds, and actually even whites, are from Rhone appellations, such as the Châteauneuf du Pape or nearby Gigondas. I do not generally like other southern Rhone appellations, such as the Côtes du Ventoux. Unfortunately the rule of get what you pay for really applies here it seems. Côtes du Ventoux is generally cheap and not so good and Châteauneuf du Pape is expensive and good. Too expensive at that, at least too expensive for daily consumption.

Recently we were at our favorite local wine shop and picked up a bottle of Côtes du Ventoux to cook with. Our expectation was fairly low, but definitely had to taste it. As they say, you should never cook with a wine that you would not drink. It actually was not bad.

The wine in question is the La Vieille Ferme Rouge, 2005 produced by the Perrin Family, who incidentally blog about winemaking in the Rhone in English (!). The wine is pretty mass produced, very low priced, yet is totally acceptable quality. It is rich and fruity, as most Rhones are, high in acidity, tarty and rather spicy. The blend is 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 15% Cinsault matured in oak barrels (though not barriques) for 10 months. In my humble opinion, or as we geeks say IMHO, it is one of the better Ventouxs out there. At about 7 euros in Europe or $8 in the US, you have to try this wine.

Name: La Vieille Ferme Rouge, 2005

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Body: Medium to Full

Cost: 7 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

La Vieille Ferme Rouge, 2005

Beautiful Alsace

November 3, 2007

Alsace is as well known for its natural beauty as it is for its wines. We had the chance to tour the area a few months ago and I came away with the impression that the French just know how to do tourism. The villages are immeculately restored to their original beauty, despite the fact that this area took a very heavy beating during World War II.

Alsace’s history is quite interesting. This region has switched sides between the French and the Germans many times over. As a result, it sort of has an identity crises. You will see villages named Mittelwihr, Zellenberg and Beblenheim, yet most people speak French on the streets. This is also true for the wine as Riesling and Gewurtzraminer, predominant in Germany, are the major (though definitely not the only) varietals here. What is interesting is that you drive 20 kilometers east and cross into Germany (which by the way is like crossing between New Jersey and Connecticut without any borders, thanks to EU’s Schengen Agreement) and taste some wines of the same varietals and they taste massively different. There is something really Alsacian about Alsace wines. They have a very distinct style, it is not French, neither is it German, it is Alsacian.

Today’s wine is a 2002 Grand Cru Riesling from the Goldert slope of Gueberschwihr (15 kilometers south of Colmar) made by the Cave Vinicole de Pfaffenheim, a group of about 230 local growers. It is interesting that small growers group together in Alsace and other parts of France, presumably to stay competitive with bigger wine houses. The result is fantastic in both quality and bang for the buck. This Grand Cru was 14 euros, a lot lower than similar caliber wine from Trimbach or Hugel & Fils would run you. We also had 2 other Grand Crus from Pfaffenheim, both very different in style yet all high quality.

The Goldert Riesling delivers quite a bit if citrus fruit, though not with the kind of punch a Rheingau Riesling would. This wine has a lot more restraint and perhaps you could say elegance. It is bone dry and is quite high in minerals that is also fairly typical for Alsace wines. Based on a cursory lookup on (a favorite tool of mine), it is awfully difficult to get outside of Alsace. And while I liked the wine a lot, it did not leave such a memory that I would try to seek it out again. If I do get it again, I will try it with some flaky white fish, which I think would be an amazing pairing for this baby.

Name: Goldert Riesling, Grand Cru, 2002, Pfaffenheim

Rating: 8 out of 10

Body: Light to Medium

Price: 14 euros

Got it at: Small wine shop in Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Goldert Riesling, Grand Cru, 2002, Pfaffenheim