30 Second Wine Advisor: Benchmark Grenache

Today's Sponsor

 The California Wine Club
This month's International Selection from The California Wine Club features two French wines that satisfy!

In This Issue

 Benchmark Grenache
"Benchmark" wines, those that present a clear, instructive example of a specific variety or region, need not be expensive.
 The California Wine Club This month's International Selection from The California Wine Club features two French wines that satisfy!
 Domaine André Brunel 2005 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Grenache ($10) Illustrating today's premise, this simple, affordable Southern French red offers a good demonstration of well-made Grenache.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
Writer John Juergens demolishes a few myths from the anti-alcohol movement, and a WineLovers Discussion Group member reflects thoughtfully on his first year as a wine "geek."
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Benchmark Grenache

Let's continue our quest for "recession buster" wines, bottles in the $10 range (or, if possible, even a bit less) that exceed expectations for their relatively affordable price.

Economic reality usually ensures that a low retail price can't support expensive oak barrels or fruit from limited-production, sought-after vineyards.

But there's still plenty of room for enjoyment on the bargain shelves, particularly if we steer well clear of industrially made, mass-market labels in favor of artisanal producers who bring pride to their work at all price points.

What's more, in the absence of oak and intense extraction and the other characteristics that wine-making choices can bring to more pricey bottles, wines of modest price - if well-made - can assist in our wine education by offering "benchmark" examples of varietal character. Without those tasty but complicating variables in the mix, an affordable, simple varietal wine can offer a fine way to train our palates while enjoying the wine.

Today's featured wine is a fine example. Domaine André Brunel 2005 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Grenache - from the producer of Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape, not to be confused with Daniel Brunel of Vieux-Telegraphe - is a simple, almost single-varietal (it has 10 percent Carignan in the blend). Made entirely in stainless steel with no oak exposure, it shows plenty of Grenache character (think raspberries) in an enjoyable wine that offers a lot of value for the price.

Domaine André Brunel 2005 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Grenache ($10)


Very dark garnet with a thin, clear edge. Good, fresh and rather delicate raspberry aroma. Red fruit carries over in the flavor, appealing but no "fruit bomb," with a subtle "stony" minerality adding character and fresh-fruit acidity building balance. Very attractive wine. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (March 1, 2008)

FOOD MATCH: A good companion with red meat or sharp cheese. It worked well with beef carbonnades a la flammande. Although this classic Belgian stew is made with beer and goes well with beer, it bridged the gap nicely with this tart, fruity Grenache.

VALUE: Makes my annual best-values list at $10, and widely available for even less.

WHEN TO DRINK: Made for immediate enjoyment, but it's holding up well and should last for a couple more years.

"Grenache" = "Greh-NAHSH"

WEB LINKS: The U.S. importer has a detailed fact sheet on the Brunel 2005 Grenache:

Check prices and find vendors for André Brunel Grenache on Wine-Searcher.com:

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Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

This week on WineLoversPage.com

Oxford Town Wines: Serious health stuff
A common tactic of the anti-alcohol faction is to cloak their agenda in grossly misrepresented research data, seeking to scare people into accepting their arguments. John Juergens demolishes a few of the anti-alcohol myths.

WineLovers Discussion Group: A year of being a wine geek
A British participant in the WineLovers Discussion Group reflects on his first year of serious wine appreciation. His thoughtful post is worth reading for anyone who loves wine, whether you're new to the topic or an old-timer.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Vermentino (April 18, 2008)

 Recession buster - Vinho Verde (April 16, 2008)

 New look for kosher wine (April 14, 2008)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Pork chops with pineapple chutney (April 17, 2008)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: