[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Wine Value Archive

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Wines of France

Domaine Clape 1994 "Le Vin des Amis" Vin de Table de France Rhone Wine ($7.99)
Every now and then I'll use the French word "garrigues" in a tasting note. A reference to the natural scent of herbs that lingers on the hillsides of Languedoc and Provence, it's the hallmark of quite a few red wines of the region, an aromatic mixed-herb scent, heavy on the lavender, that sits somewhere not too far from "barnyard" on the aroma wheel.
Anyway, if you're looking for a benchmark to calibrate your palate on garrigues, this modest red has plenty of it. I'd almost call it a "baby Tempier" for its resemblance to the much more pricey Bandol red.
Dark ruby color. Potent "garrigues" aroma -- love it or hate it, it really stands out -- dominates the nose and lingers over fresh red fruit and lemony acidity on the palate, so herbal and funky that it really overpowers food (roast chicken) but makes pleasant after-dinner sipping. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (May 2, 1997)

Domaine de la Done 1995 Terret Vin de Pays de l'Herault ($7.99)
Light-gold in color, with a faint musky-melon aroma and a simple fruit flavor, clean and fresh, with very tart and cleansing acidity in a long finish. The elements are there, but the contrast and brightness are turned down low. Much less interesting than the 1994 version of this Languedoc white, which I notice that I tasted almost two years ago; I don't know where this one's been in the pipeline, but suspect that an extra year of storage didn't do it any favors. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (May 1, 1997)

Josmeyer 1995 Pinot Auxerrois Vin d'Alsace ($9.99)
Auxerrois is widely grown in Alsace, but you rarely see it on a bottle label; it's allegedly either identical to Pinot Blanc or close kin to it. This one's a tasty rendition, offering good value at (barely) less than $10. Clear straw color. Light, pleasant scent of melons and mint. Very tart acidity surrounds crisp melon and neutral "wine-grape" fruit. Clean, tart fruit lingers in a surprisingly long finish. Went nicely with pork chops sauteed in herbs and garlic and covered with a slice of melted Provolone. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (April 26, 1997)

G. Moulinier 1994 Les Terrasses Grillées Saint-Chinian ($16.49)
Very dark ruby color, almost opaque. Lovely black-fruit scent with mint and lavendar and a whiff of dark chocolate. Full and ripe, almost "chewy," herbal black fruit evokes Cabernet, but it's actually virtually all Syrah (plus 2% Grenache); bitter-chocolate and black-coffee notes and soft tannins present as subtle background elements. Definitely on the leading edge of the Languedoc, and wherever it's headed, I want to go there. Importer: Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selections, West Nyack, N.Y. (April 20, 1997)

Chateau de Cazeneuve 1995 "Les Terres Rouges" Pic Saint-Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($7.49)
Very dark garnet, almost blackish-purple. Ripe black fruit and fragrant pepper aromas. Peppery, plummy fruit flavor, seems one-dimensionally soft at first taste, but lemony acidity and soft tannins show up as it crosses the palate. Good balance, with a lot going on for a table wine at this low price. A Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selection, imported by T&C Distributing, Inc., West Nyack, N.Y. (April 12, 1997)

Chateau Bonnet 1994 Bordeaux ($7.99)
A while back, I was extremely impressed with the quality and value of Andre Lurton's Ch. Bonnet White Bordeaux, to the extent that I declared it my summer "house white" and laid in a few more bottles. The other day, I spotted a red Bordeaux from the same house for a decent price, so naturally I grabbed it. Good choice! Dark garnet color. Minty cassis and mineral aromas. Clean, fresh fruit flavor over lemon-tart acidity and firm but accessible tannins. Well balanced, seemingly ageworthy; surprising finesse for a simple, low-end Bordeaux. Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (April 8, 1997)

Verget 1995 Viognier Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l'Ardeche ($11.99)
Clear pale gold. Floral scent, characteristic of Viognier, with pleasant hints of pears and almonds. Clean and bright, flavor follows the nose; perhaps a bit less interesting on the palate than in the aroma, but still, a good fresh table wine, went very well with a baked halibut dish with clam sauce, Italian style. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (March 28, 1997)

Jacques et François Lurton 1995 Domaine des Salices Syrah Vin de Pays d'Oc ($6.49)
Dark garnet color. Fragrant black pepper dominates plummy fruit on the nose; full, jammy Syrah fruit flavor, plums and floral pepper, with lemon-squirt acidity in a medium finish. Well-structured if a bit one-dimensional. Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (March 23, 1997)

Paul Jaboulet Ainé 1995 "Parallele '45'" Cotes-du-Rhone ($8.99)
Puzzled by widespread reports of bottle variation in this popular quaffer, I decided to pull cork on another sample for yesterday's wine chat in the Wine Lovers' Chat Room, noting with some disapproval that it's gone up a dollar since December. My conclusion: I don't know whether to blame bottle variation or three months in the bottle, but it was certainly disappointing.
It's a dark reddish-purple, with a definite edge of volatile acidity (vinegar) at first that blows off quickly, leaving simple red fruit and black pepper. Juicy fruit flavor, some tannins and sharp lemon-squirt acidity. Seems less balanced than the same wine tasted about three months ago. Wakes up and comes into balance with a bite of sharp Cheddar, but softens and then falls apart after an hour in the glass. No bargain. Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd., NYC. (March 23, 1997)

Les Rocailles non-vintage "Apremont" Vin de Savoie ($7.99)
Savoie whites from the French Alps, made from the aromatic Jacquère grape, aren't an everyday sipping occurrence around here. This one's quite tasty, all the more so since it falls into the budget range: Pale-gold. Odd, pleasant aromas, musky notes and hazelnuts, segue into a full and ripe flavor reminiscent of golden raisins, so fruity it almost seems sweet, structured on tart, lemony acidity. Unusual but appealing, and purely by chance, made an exceptional match with a dinner of Italian-style shrimp in oil and lemon. Importer: Slocum & Sons Inc., West Haven, Conn., Selected by Dan Kravitz Hand Picked Selections. (March 20, 1997)

J & F Lurton 1995 Domaine de Bachellery Grenache Vin de Pays d'Oc ($6.49)
Clear dark ruby. Black pepper and plummy fruit aromas. Fresh, peppery and tart flavor, a full-bodied country wine. Good for quaffing with simple fare, even hearty vegetarian entrees -- it went surprisingly well with Foul Mudammas, an infelicitously named Near Eastern fava-bean dish. Good wine, very good value! Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (Feb. 27, 1997)

Chateau la Sauvageonne 1992 "Cuvee Prestige" Coteaux du Languedoc ($12.99 in 1995)
A sort of mini-aging project, I've had this one in my "passive cellar" for almost two years, and it's definitely gained complexity and interest with time. Inky dark garnet color, clear edge. Black-cherry fruit aroma with a light "gamey" quality and an odd but pleasant whiff of ripe olives over intense Syrah black pepper. Juicy, almost jammy black-fruit flavors, so full and ripe that it seems a bit soft at first, but a good acidic structure becomes apparent as it crosses the palate. Black fruit and that intriguing black-olive character persist in a long finish. This may seem odd, but I swear it reminds me of a high-end Cote-Rotie. Wish I had some more! Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Feb. 18, 1997)

Chateau Rocher Bellevue Figeac 1989 St.-Émilion ($17.99)
Dark, slightly hazy ruby color. Ripe blackcurrant, cherry-berry and aromatic cedar, a big and complex aroma leaps from the glass. Full, ripe fruit flavors, consistent with the nose, firm tannins present but cloaked by the forward fruit. Surprisingly youthful; accessible and with no hint of a "dumb" stage, but it will clearly benefit from substantial further aging. Contains 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc. Shipped by Cordier; imported by Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (Feb. 15, 1997)

Chateau Olivier 1994 Pessac-Léognan ($16.99)
Clear straw color. Pleasant mineral and citric lemon-lime aromas with faint minty overtones, complex and appealing. Fresh, crisp and bright flavor, citric with subtle herbal and green-olive notes; starts out tart, opens on the palate to an almost buttery richness, but stays clean and dry in a long finish, with a citric-herbal note that's oddly reminiscient of vermouth. A lot of disparate pieces here, but they all fall together in excellent balance. Importer: Commandeur Corp., Minneapolis, Minn. (Feb. 14, 1997)

Verget 1995 Macon Villages "Tete de Cuvee" ($8.99)
Clear, pale gold. Fresh apples and a yeasty whiff of rising bread dough. Full, ripe apple flavor, dry and tart. Good flavor and good balance in a very basic, straightforward Macon. Good value. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Feb. 10, 1997)

2 Good Loire Whites
For an article about white wines that go well with fish, I chose two Loire Sauvignon Blancs from neighboring regions tonight, served them with a simple linguine with white clam sauce, and found that both passed muster. The relatively pricey Sancerre is certainly the better wine, but the modest Quincy, with its piercing acidity, worked as well as a squirt of lemon to bring the pasta's seafood flavors into balance.
Jaumier 1995 Quincy Vin Noble ($9.99)
Pale-gold color. Light citric aroma, lemon and a whiff of tangerine; crisp and very tart flavor, citrus and herbal notes, clean and consistent in a long finish, with an odd but not unpleasant bitter-medicinal note coming in at the end. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 9, 1997)

Pascal Jolivet 1995 Sancerre ($14.99)
Pale straw color. Good grassy scent with musky overtones. Fresh, crisp fruit flavor with an almost prickly near-petillance on the tongue. Herbaceous and apple-like flavors mingle with appropriate acidity. Very well-balanced wine, works well with seafood or as an aperitif. Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd., NYC. (Feb. 9, 1997)

Chateau La Roque 1994 "Cupa Numismae" Cru Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($11.99)
Very dark garnet, slightly hazy. Lovely black-fruit scent with hints of coconut and orange peel. Big, hulking black fruit flavors on a structure of tart acidity, push their way through a heavy curtain of tannins. Enjoyable now, but will definitely benefit from significant time in the bottle. Sixty percent Syrah and 40 percent Mourvedre, it's the Languedoc equivalent of an Hermitage or Cote-Rotie, but remaining "undiscovered," it's a whale of a value. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 8, 1997)

Domaine Dauvissat-Camus 1991 Chablis Premier Cru La Forest ($22.99)
Very clear gold color, a bit on the dark side. Pleasant candy-apple scent, cooking apples and distinct whiffs of brown sugar and pecans. Ripe and rich, juicy apple fruit and steely Chablis acidity. As you'd expect of a '91, it's not recommended for longer cellaring; but this one remains a delight. A little on the pricey side for our usual daily fare, but hey, Valentine's Day is drawing near ... Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (Feb. 6, 1997)

Domaine des Acacias 1995 Touraine Sauvignon ($7.99)
Touraine is a large region on the Loire where a number of different wines are made, including a lot of tasty, crisp and quaffable Sauvignon Blanc that we don't see a lot in the U.S. It's good to find this appealing rendition at a fair price. It's a clear pale-gold in color, with a light, herbaceous aroma, fresh hay and green peas; fresh and crisp flavor, a burst of tart acidity, with plenty of melony fruit to keep it in balance. Good "green" quality persists in a fairly long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 4, 1997)

Chateau La Roque 1994 Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($7.99)
I tried this '94 (the regular La Roque bottling, not the more pricey Cupa Numismae) when it first came to town last summer, and enjoyed it then. It seems to have evolved considerably in the past six months, as my notes now bear only a scant resemblance to my notes of July 2; but I think I like it even better now. Dark garnet color. Big, forward black-fruit scent with intriguing aromatics, orange peel and coconut and coriander seed (I am not kidding about this). Full, juicy fruit flavor punches through a heavy curtain of tannins; it's so fruity and complex that it's a delight right now -- especially with a "tannin-wiping" T-bone on the table -- but it's showing considerable cellar potential. Amazing value. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 27, 1997)

Clos la Coutale 1994 Cahors ($9.99)
Dark ruby color. Spicy oak and black-fruit aromas lead into a tart, heavily tannic flavor with some black-cherry fruit showing through. Opens up after time in the glass to add a pleasant blueberry note, but it's still quite tannic and tartly acidic. It's young yet, might soften some with time in the bottle, and went well enough with roast chicken; but the balance issue makes me wonder about its cellar potential. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 26, 1997)

Domaine Clavel 1994 "La Copa Santa" Coteaux du Languedoc ($12.99)
Dark-purple in color, with a deep black-fruit aroma with chocolate and black-coffee notes. Full and ripe flavor, black fruit and Provence herbs ("garrigues") wrapped up in firm tannins and lemon-squirt acidity. Mixed-berry fruit and herbs show through in a long finish. It's 100 percent Syrah and sees 12 months in oak; impressive now but definitely needs time. Importer: T&C Distributors, West Nyack, N.Y.; Jeffrey M. Davies Selections. (Jan. 22, 1997)

Castelmaure 1995 Corbières ($7.99)
Clear garnet color. Attractive red-fruit aroma, a bowl of cherries. Soft, juicy tart-cherry fruit on the palate, simple and fresh; low acidity and short finish take off points, but it's still a pleasant quaff and a good match with a meatless baked-ziti dinner. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Jan. 20, 1997)

Chateau Tayac "Cuvee David" Cotes de Bourg ($8.99)
This is quite a tasty moderately priced Bordeaux, the price being relatively low at least in part, I'm sure, because it comes from the "wrong side of the tracks," across the Gironde estuary from the Medoc, and because it's not a vintage-dated wine. It's a dark garnet in color, with blackcurrant and tarragon aromas, attractive and typical Bordeaux. Full, bright fruit, crisp acidity and firm tannins; accessible but definitely would benefit from a little time in the bottle. Somewhat short in the finish, but still a very good wine and a good value. Importer: Hand Picked Selections (Dan Kravits), Warrenton, Va. (Jan. 19, 1997)

Domaine Baillat 1995 Corbières Rosé ($7.99)
Although I generally think of rosé as a wine for summer quaffing, this nice Languedoc pink turned out to be just the thing to go with Greek lemon chicken, even on a frigid night when it's not fit out for man or beast. Clear pale copper color. Herbs and spearmint aromas; bright and juicy fruit flavor, bone-dry and lemon-tart, with herbal and mint notes lingering in a long finish. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va. (Jan. 13, 1997)

Domaine de Monteillet 1993 Saint-Joseph ($10.99)
Clear garnet color. Grapey, "meaty," herbal and fragrant black-pepper aromas, quite complex in the nose department. Juicy fruit and spicy pepper flavors, with that same meaty, gamey Rhone quality with mineral notes showing through soft tannins and lemon-squirt acidity. A bit light on the palate, but nicely balanced and a good table wine. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Jan. 12, 1997)

Verget 1995 Saint-Romain ($12.99)
Clear pale gold. Luscious fresh-apple scent, clean and fresh. Full, ripe fruit, apples with tart, cleansing acidity in a textured flavor that gains richness as it warms in the glass. Even at the price point in the low double figures, it's an impressive value. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Dec. 27, 1996)

Domaine de Fontenille 1994 Cotes du Luberon ($9.99)
Dark, slightly hazy garnet (label notes it's "non filtre"). Ripe red-fruit aroma with forward scents of "garrigues," the lavendar-scented character of Provence, with perfumed floral notes. Flavors follow the nose, full and rich, good acidic structure and that delicate herbal quality carrying into a long finish. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Dec. 26, 1996)

Chateau L'Evangile 1989 Pomerol ($70)
No "bargain" this, but definitely a great wine, and hey, it's a holiday! Dark garnet color. Deep black-fruit aromas, cassis, mint and tarragon. Full, ripe fruit built on a sturdy structure of acidity and firm but approachable tannins, flavors follow the nose and add pleasant earthy leather scents. Drinking very well now, not at all closed, but the tannins and fruit suggest a long life ahead. Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (Dec. 24, 1996)

Chateau Bonnet 1994 Entre-Deux-Mers ($7.99)
This wine showed really exceptional value when it was fresh off the boat about six months ago, but I had my doubts whether it would hold up long, so I pulled one tonight to use as cooking wine. Taking a taste for science's sake, I found that I needn't have worried. It's just possibly better now than it was in July. A pale straw color, it blends a pleasant grapefruit-citric scent with subtle grassy-green-pea herbaceousness. Crisp and full on the palate, it shows a luscious sweet-tart pink-grapefruit flavor, clean and lasting, with a fresh and surprisingly long finish. Very good wine! (It contains 50% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Muscadelle.) Importer: Classic Wine Importing Inc., Boston. (Dec. 22, 1996)

Paul Jaboulet Aine 1995 "Parallele '45'" Cotes-du-Rhone ($7.99)
Clear dark ruby color. Ripe red fruit, apples and cherry-berry with a light whiff of characteristic Rhone black pepper on the nose and palate; soft and juicy fruit, structured with crisp acidity. Well-balanced and approachable; good value. Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd., New York. (Dec. 21, 1996)

Domaine du Vissoux 1996 Beaujolais Primeur ($9.99)
Billed as "Cuvee Vieilles Vignes Non Chaptalisee" (old vines blend with no sugar added), this bottling from Pierre-Marie Chermette is an old-fashioned Beaujolais indeed, a revelation in the wake of the thin, sour offerings from the major makers this year. It's a clear ruby color with a bright reddish-violet hue, showing the candied strawberry-banana aroma that's characteristic of Nouveau singing in harmony with plummy and delicate floral notes. These tasty aromas carry over intact into a tart, juicy fruit flavor that's clean, fresh and lingering. Really a remarkable Nouveau. Importer: Weygandt- Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Dec. 18, 1996)

Terrazze della Luna 1996 Novello di Teroldego Altesino ($5.99)
This one's widely available in these parts, ranging from standard "fifth" bottles to magnums and even some large-format containers -- I saw what looked like a Jeroboam for $39! Clear, dark garnet color. Ripe, grapey black fruit aromas, without the typical "candied" Nouveau character. Soft and gulpable, low on acidity but easy to quaff, with a prickly hint of petillance in the finish. Clearly made for the mass market, but it's clean and easy to like. Importer: Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Fla. (Dec. 18, 1996)

Georges Duboeuf 1996 Beaujolais Nouveau ($8.99)
Clear, bright ruby color. Grapey nouveau aroma, with Duboeuf's characteristic banana-strawberry and candied fruit; tart and a bit thin on the palate, clean and fresh but bordering on sour; not the best-balanced wine, but it shapes up a little with food, and definitely quaffs well, as Nouveau should. Importer: Winesellers Ltd., Skokie, Ill. (Dec. 3, 1996)

Joseph Drouhin 1996 Beaujolais Nouveau Primeur ($8.99)
Clear bright ruby. Strawberry and candied fruit and a light salad-dressing whiff of volatile acidity that seems unavoidable in Nouveau. Grapey and tart, seems a bit thin and sharp at first, but quickly opens up in the glass to a much more enjoyable red-fruit flavor, apples and berries. Not at all bad by Nouveau standards. Fair to good wine, marginal value. (Nov. 29, 1996)

Les Charmes-Godard 1989 Bordeaux Cotes de Francs ($8.99)
Dark ruby color. Dark-chocolate, blackcurrant, and spicy oak aromas lead into a soft, juicy fruit flavor that evolves surprisingly in the glass; light in acidity and short in the finish at first, it opens up into a much more structured framework of fresh fruit, crisp acidity and soft tannins after an hour or so. With that caveat -- pull the cork early -- it's an exceptional value. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 25, 1996)

Les Amandiers 1995 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse
Very dark reddish-purple. Intense black-pepper aroma is dominant at first, blows off after a while to reveal ripe red-cherry fruit. Around $7, an outstanding value; the evening's unanimous pick for best quality-price ratio. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Nov. 15, 1996)

Chateau Helene 1993 Cuvee Helene de Troie Corbieres ($12)
Lovely perfumed scent, red-fruit and "garrigues," the characteristic herbal aroma of the Languedoc and Provence. Full but austere, perhaps suffering travel shock from banging around in my carry-on bag for a couple of days. Clean, mouth-filling fruit on first impression, but does a fade and ends up light and a little bitter, with soft tannins persisting. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky., a Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selection. (Nov. 15, 1996)

Verget 1993 Puligny-Montrachet "Sous le Puits," ($22.99)
Though it's no budget wine, this fine White Burgundy from the always-reliable Verget is certainly a good value for its very high quality. It's a clear, pale gold in color. Luscious apples and rising bread dough aromas with a whiff of the "chestut" that seems characteristic of fine White Burgundy. Smooth, full and rich with a bit of a buttery impression, bursts on the palate and lingers for minutes. Delightful wine, and even in the low $20s, a real value. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 11, 1996)

Domaine de la Mansenoble 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Miramont ($8.99)
Very dark ruby, almost opaque. Plummy fruit with peppery and herbal notes over spicy oak. Full, ripe black-fruit flavor with lemon-squirt acidity and ample tannins. Good table wine, a little awkward now, but shows promise for short-term cellaring. A worthy competitor to low-end Bordeaux and CalCabs. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J.; an Alain Junguenet Selection. (Nov. 8, 1996)

Reserve du Chateau Mansenoble 1994 Corbieres ($13.99)
Dark garnet color. Black-fruit, cherry-berry aroma. Full and ripe flavor, follows the nose, built on a sturdy structure or acidity, with substantial tannins cloaked by the forward fruit but suggesting considerable potential in the cellar. Importer: Alain Junguenet Selection, Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (Nov. 5, 1996)

Mas Champart 1992 Coteaux du Languedoc ($7.99)
Very dark garnet. Black-fruit and spicy oak aroma with herbal notes of tarragon and (faintly) anise. Big, chewy, full flavor on a hulking acidic structure with soft tannins almost veiled by fruit. Drinking very well indeed, but it's got years of life and significant aging potential. Last previous tasting, May 1995. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Oct. 31, 1996)

Domaine de Mansenoble 1994 Vin de Pays de Miramont ($6.99)
Clear dark garnet. Red-fruit, apple-skin and spicy oak aromas lead into a full, structured fruit flavor, plums and tart cooking apples; clean acidity and soft tannins persist into a good finish. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J.; an Alain Junguenet Selection. (Oct. 21, 1996).

Jacques et Francois Lurton 1995 Domaine des Salices Vin de Pays d'Oc Merlot ($6.49)
Very dark garnet color. Grapey, fruity, strawberry-banana aromas more reminiscent of Beaujolais than any known Merlot. Soft, ripe fruit, bursting at the seams with simple, quaffable flavor. Short on acidity and structure, but fine for casual gulping. Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (Oct. 11, 1996).

Chateau Maravenne 1995 Cotes de Provence Rosé ($10.49)
Is a $10-plus price tag too much to pay for a rosé, any rosé? Well, maybe not. This chateau-bottled Provençal goodie is awfully persuasive, and if it were white, I don't think I'd have looked twice at the price tag. Further evidence, as if any were needed, that not all pink wine is insipid "blush." It's a clear light salmon color. Fresh watermelon aroma and the classic herbal scent of Provençe rosé. Crisp, bright and juicy flavor, dry and tart; melon and herbal notes linger in a good, long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Oct. 7, 1996).

Marie-Louise Parisot 1994 Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc ($5.49)
Dark garnet. Light cherry aroma, simple and fresh. Soft and simple in the flavor department, a pleasant quaff. Importer: Louisville Crown, Louisville, Ky. (Oct. 6, 1996)

Domaine Piquemal 1994 Cotes du Roussillon ($8.99)
Clear ruby color. Forward aroma, plummy black fruit and fragrant pepper. Ripe and structured flavor, follows the nose, crisp acid and soft tannins, clean and consistent in a long finish. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Oct. 4, 1996)

Domaine du Dragon 1994 Cuvee Saint Michel Cotes du Provence ($9.99)
Dark garnet color. Good red fruit, full and ripe, consistent on the palate with a pleasant touch of toasted coconut contributed by the oak. Soft tannins, less evident than on my last tasting about three months ago; now seems to lack the acidic structure for the long haul, but it's a ripe and approachable quaff for short-term enjoyment. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Sept. 30, 1996)

Domaine de Fontsainte 1995 Gris de Gris Corbières ($8.49)
Clear light salmon color. Mint, floral, watermelon and banana notes with a whiff of cotton-candy that I haven't noticed in this wine in past vintages. Fresh, crisp and dry, with a light bitterness adding dimension in the long finish. Exceptionally fine rosé and a very good value. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Sept. 28, 1996)

Roussille 1993 "Le Clos du Chêne" Cahors ($9.99)
There's been a lot of talk among wine lovers about the way that Cahors, the old "black wine" made from Malbec grapes in Southwestern France, has lost its soul in these times of modern mass-production wine-making. Not this one ... Very dark ruby color. Deep black-fruit and spicy oak aromas with mint and herbal notes. Big, mouth-filling fruit flavor, almost "chewy" in texture, with warm, plummy fruit and clean acidity in good balance. A touch of pleasant "green" herbaceousness shows up as a whiff of fresh-cut hay in the finish. Made a great match with a garlicky roast leg of lamb. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Sept. 27, 1996)

Marc Brédif 1994 Vouvray ($10.99)
Clear, pale greenish-gold. Musky melon aroma with a herbaceous note that's pleasantly evocative of fresh green peas. Crisp and dry, flavor follows the nose; clean and consistent in a long finish. Importer: Palace Brands Co., Farmington, Ct. (Sept. 26, 1996)

Chateau de Villeneuve 1994 Saumur ($9.99)
Clear light-gold. Ripe musky melon and mint scents, aromatic, almost reminiscent of eucalyptus. Dry and full flavor, tartly acidic melon fruit with a marked edge of bitterness that lingers in a long finish. Pushes the envelope, no "little glass of white wine." A revelation to anyone whose perception of Chenin Blanc is framed by the sweet, bland California style. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Sept. 25, 1996)

Mas Amiel 1985 Cuvee Reserve Maury (Vin Doux Naturel)
Very dark ruby color, with an odd, not unpleasant mixture of scents -- stone fruit, smoke and "meaty" qualities, a combination that I couldn't resist likening to Southern barbecue. Soft and velvety on the palate, with stone-fruit flavors, appropriate acidity and light tannins that become more evident in the finish. Importer: Ideal Wines & Spirits, Medford, Mass. (Sept. 22, 1996)

Domaine Diochon 1994 Moulin-à-Vent ($14.99)
Clear dark ruby. Ripe red-fruit aroma with exotic herb and spice notes, tarragon and a hint of bitter-almond. Full and juicy fruit flavor, fresh and dry; clean and consistent in a rather short but sufficient finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Sept. 15, 1996)

Antonin Rodet 1992 Bourgogne Chardonnay de Vieilles Vignes ($8.99)
Can you get Meursault for a single-digit price? Well ... no. But this low-end Bourgogne Chardonnay sure blows away anything I've tasted lately from California at the same price point. Clear straw color. Pleasant scent of ripe cooking apples. Clean and fresh flavor, crisp and aromatic, with an odd but pleasant note evocative of an old cedar chest. Chardonnay as it used to be, nothing spectacular, but balanced and true to the fruit. Importer: Winesellers Inc., Skokie, Ill. (Sept. 13, 1996)

Chateau Meyney 1991 Saint-Estephe ($29 restaurant price)
Not a great vintage, but still, not a bad wine, especially considering that it was the cheapest red Bordeaux on Nora's list. Dark garnet color, with leathery cassis aroma notes and a lean, slightly herbaceous flavor with a light, not objectionable touch of "barnyard." Importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (Sept. 9, 1996)

Perrin Réserve 1994 Cotes du Rhone ($9.99)
Clear dark garnet. Red-fruit, apple-skin and a whiff of black pepper on the nose. A rush of ripe, juicy fruit on the palate, dry and tart. A bit short in the finish, but still a fine food wine, excellent with grilled lamb chops and pasta in a fresh-tomato sauce. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsaut (rendered "Cinsault" on the label) in the cuvee. Since tasting the Blanc the other night, I've learned that Perrin's "Reserve" line is apparently replacing his old "Vieille Ferme," an old budget-range favorite. Importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Chester, Vt. (Sept. 7, 1996)

Perrin Reserve 1995 Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc ($9.99)
Clear, pale gold, with a light peach and apricot aroma, fresh and appealing. A burst of fruit flavor on the palate, clean and ripe, well balanced with pleasantly crisp but not overwhelming acidity that lingers, fine and consistent, in a very long finish. The blend includes Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc. Importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Chester, Vt. (Sept. 5, 1996)

F. et V. Alquier 1995 Roussanne-Marsanne Vin de Pays de l'Heuralt ($7.99)
Clear pale-gold color. Aromatic aroma notes of lemon peel and almonds are reflected in the flavor, crisp and tart, with lemony acidity and an elusive bitter-almond quality carrying through consistently into a long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Aug. 30, 1996)

Marie-Louise Parisot 1994 Cotes-du-Rhone ($5.99)
Clear ruby color. Light peppery, herbal and plummy aroma notes. Crisp, fresh red-fruit flavor, light and tart, pleasant sipping -- a light chill wouldn't hurt -- and a fine match with grilled chicken breasts topped with fresh tomato, mozzarella and pesto. Importer: Louisville Crown, Louisville, Ky. (Aug. 28, 1996)

Domaine de la Guicharde 1993 "Les Genests" Cotes du Rhone ($8.99)
Clear, dark ruby color. Black pepper and tart-cherry aromas, very appealing. Full fruit flavor, juicy and ripe, with a firm acidic structure to hold it together. Big and "chewy" (label notes it's "non-filtré"), could almost pass for a baby Chateauneuf. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Aug. 17, 1996)

Domaine du Salvard 1995 "Delaille" Cheverny ($7.99)
Clear, pale brass color. Grapefruit! Good citrus dominates the scent, with pleasant hints of spearmint and pineapple. Crisp and full flavor, citric fruit and acid, clean and consistent in a long finish. This affordable white from the Loire (near Blois) is an excellent seafood wine and a very good buy. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Aug. 16, 1996)

Chateau du Prieuré du Mourgues 1991 Saint-Chinian ($9.99)
Dark garnet color. Luscious red fruit on the nose and palate with a backdrop of spicy oak. Soft and juicy fruit flavor, well balanced with crisp acidity and light tannins. Surprising amount of fruit left for a 5-year-old wine; not going anyplace soon, and might even improve with a couple more years in the bottle. Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas (Aug. 15, 1996)

Chateau Mansenoble 1994 "Montagne d'Alaric" Corbières ($9.49)
Very dark reddish-purple, almost opaque. Spicy oak is somewhat dominant over warm, plummy fruit and black pepper at first, but it comes more into balance with breathing in the glass. Full, ripe red-fruit flavors with a good acidic structure, opening up on the palate to black-coffee and dark-chocolate notes and soft but perceptible tannins. Drinks well now, with substantial potential for short to medium-term cellaring. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (Aug. 14, 1996)

Cordier 1989 Chateau Plagnac Médoc ($9.99)
Clear dark garnet. Mineral and black-cherry aromas with a whiff of oaky "spicebox." Simple tart-cherry fruit, structured and full; quite tannic, but as seems typical of many '89s, there's plenty of ripe fruit showing through it. Coming back to earth after Saturday's old-Bordeaux tasting, this one's back in our normal budget range. While it's no first-growth or "super second," it is holding up very nicely, drinking well now and showing considerable potential for short- to medium-term cellaring, and a whale of a bargain for a penny under ten bucks. Importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines, NYC. (Aug. 12, 1996)

Domaine Mardon 1993 Quincy ($10.99)
Not "KWIN-see" but "kaN-SEE," with a French nasal N, and it's a pretty darn good Loire Sauvignon Blanc, too, dry and crisp, from an appellation that I think is better-known in the UK than it is in the U.S. Clear brass color. Pleasant citric aroma with minty overtones. Full, bright fruit, grapefruit and lemon, dry and tart; cleansing acidity in the finish. Excellent food wine, bridged the gap between baba ganouj and Roman fava beans with pancetta in a Mediterranean Rim "fusion" meal. (Aug. 3, 1996)

Georges Duboeuf 1994 Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-A-Vent ($10.99)
Dark garnet. Fresh cherry-berry aroma, no hint of the "banana-cotton candy" scent that's the trademark of Duboeuf's lower-end Beaujolais. Ripe, juicy fruit, a bit on the soft side, but there's a good core of acidic structure to hold it together. Importer: Winesellers Inc., Skokie, Ill. (Aug. 2, 1996)

A. Clape 1994 "Le Vin des Amis" Vin de Table de France ($7.99)
Does the concept of French "zipcode" wines need explaining? Well-known makers who throw together cuvees from anonymous grapes aren't permitted to list their region on the label if it's also an appellation, for fear of confusing the public; so this tasty table red from the respected Rhone firm of Auguste Clape is designated only as "07130 France," the postal code for (shhh!) Cornas. Clear garnet color. Spicy oak dominates the aroma, but warm, plummy fruit punches through the wood. Full, crisp red-fruit flavor, simple but fresh, with plenty of acidity to give it structure. Good table wine, went very well with garlicky grilled chicken. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Aug. 1, 1996)

Chateau d'Armailhac 1989 Pauillac ($23.99)
No low-end wine this, but definitely good value for the price for a special occasion (my wife's birthday). Purchased recently, the cork condition (damp and wine-colored for its full length, lots of grunge in the capsule) suggests less than ideal storage. Still, it survives and thrives: Dark ruby color, shading toward bronze. Ripe cassis aroma with leathery, toasty notes, pleasant though surprisingly mature for an '89. Similar on the palate, good fruit and good structure, but the tannins (though present) are surprisingly resolved. It's certainly not past peak or in any danger of going over the hill, but it's definitely ready. Importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (July 30, 1996)

Marie-Louise Parisot 1994 Macon-Villages Blanc ($6.99)
Clear, pale greenish-gold. Pleasant scent of fresh cooking apples and a yeasty whiff of rising bread dough. Crisp and tart flavor, apples and tangy fresh-fruit acidity, round and full. Clean and consistent in a good long finish. Importer: Louisville Crown, Louisville, Ky. (July 28, 1996)

Reserve Les Bastides d'Alquier 1994 Faugères ($13.99)
Clear, very dark garnet color. Ripe black-fruit aroma with a distinct herbal whiff of Provencal "garrigues," though not nearly as dominant as in the regular 94 Alquier bottling tasted last night. Full, extracted black-cherry and blackberry fruit on a solid framework of fresh-fruit acidity. Tannins are present, but you've got to go looking for them behind all the fruit. Very accessible now, but well worth cellaring. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (July 23, 1996)

Gilbert Alquier & Fils 1994 Faugères ($9.49)
Dark garnet color. Black-fruit and light "garrigues" (the lavender-scented herbal trademark of Southern France) aromas. Plummy fruit flavor, rather tightly wound and austere, with lemony acidity and soft but perceptible tannins. Good now, better with a little time in the bottle. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (July 22, 1996)

Domaine de la Motte 1994 "La Cour de Pierre" Rosé d'Anjou ($5.99)
Clear bright salmon color. Strawberries and a light, not unpleasant, whiff of "cotton candy." Fresh, juicy strawberry flavor, perceptible sweetness fully balanced by tart, tangy acidity. Nothing serious here, but a refreshing, quaffable summer sipping wine. Importer: Classic Wine Imports Inc., Boston. (July 19, 1996)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht 1992 Wintzenheim (Alsace) Gewurztraminer ($15.99)
Bright gold in color, rich as Croesus' treasure. Huge, forward aroma focused on litchees, with mangoes and aromatic pine. Unctuous, mouth-coating fruit, consistent with the nose, with plenty of fresh-fruit acidity for balance. Importer: Wine Markets International, Woodbury, NY. (July 17, 1996)

Chateau Helene 1993 Cuvee Helene de Troie Corbières ($14.99)
Inky dark-garnet color. Massive black-fruit aroma with hints of floral black pepper, spicy oak, and mixed herbs (garrigues?). Big, chunky fruit over a sturdy structure of fresh-fruit acidity and brooding tannins, but the fruit is so extracted, almost explosive, that it's surprisingly accessible now, but it will clearly improve with time. A world-class wine. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky.; a Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selection. (July 16, 1996)

Chateau Bonnet 1995 Entre-Deux-Mers ($6.99)
Very pale straw color. Light citric scent, evokes pink grapefruit. Flavor follows the nose, fruity and tart, with pleasant musky and buttery notes playing second fiddle to the good, lean grapefruit. (There's 50% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Muscadelle in the cuvee.) Importer: Classic Wine Importing Inc., Boston. (July 15, 1996)

Chateau La Roque 1994 Cru Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($7.99)
Clear, dark garnet. Plums and black pepper and elusive herbal notes hinting at the classic "garrigues" of Languedoc; delicious cherry-berry flavor, structured and tart, hints of black pepper and soft tannins, continues undiminished in a very long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (July 2, 1996)

Jean-Noel Bousquet Chateau Grand Moulin 1993 Corbières ($6.99)
Dark-garnet, with a hint of bronze. Spicy oak and red-fruit aromas; good, juicy, plummy flavor with floral notes over a good structure of tart acidity, fresh and ripe. Flavors clean and consistent in the finish. Little changed since last tasted in September 1995; plenty of life in it yet. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (July 2, 1996)

Serge et Bruno Sourdais 1990 "Les Cornuelles" Chinon Vieilles Vignes Chinon ($14.99)
Clear ruby with a bronze hue. Funky "forest floor" aroma notes open up to unveil a delicious red raspberry scent. Consistent on the palate, dry and tart, with raspberry and subtle herbal elements. Lean, cleansing, long in the finish; made a wonderful match with grilled pork chops. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (June 28, 1996)

Vincent Fonteneau 1991 Faugères ($7.99)
Dark garnet color. Red fruit and apple-skin, consistent on the nose and palate. Juicy fruit flavor, soft and sippable, with ample acidity to hold it together; good red-fruit and fragrant black pepper lingering in a pleasant, long finish. Importer: USA Wine Imports, NYC; Selection Becky Wasserman. (June 27, 1996)

Domaine Maris 1993 "Carte Noire" Minervois ($6.99)
Clear, dark reddish-purple. Fresh red-fruit and spicebox aromas. Juicy, tart cherry-berry fruit with a fragrant whiff of black pepper. Clean and fresh, simple and a bit short in the finish; still, makes a fine match with steaks, good quality-price ratio. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (June 23, 1996)

Domaine du Dragon 1994 Cuvée Saint Michel Côtes du Provence ($9.99)
Very dark garnet color. Closed and tight at first, opens up with breathing to reveal attractive apple-skin and red-fruit flavors and a whiff of toasted coconut. Ripe red-fruit flavors are well balanced with tart acidity and firm but approachable tannins. Excellent wine, will probably become even more accessible after a year or so in the bottle. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (June 16, 1996)

Chateau Helene 1993 Cuvée Ulysse Corbières ($7.99)
Dark garnet color. Forward aroma of "garrigues," the herbal scent of Southern France, with spicy oak and black fruit. Full black-fruit flavor, consistent with the nose, with herbs, pepper and plummy fruit, ripe and full; soft tannins and tart acidity build a substantial structure. Importer: A Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selection, Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (June 15, 1996)

Domaine de Mathieu 1990 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($30/restaurant price)
Dark in color, slightly bronze at the edge. Restrained gamey notes on the nose, pleasant and not over the top; rich and extracted flavor, full of fruit, well balanced, tannins resolved. Drinking very nicely. Importer: New Castle, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (June 4, 1996)

Domaine Bru-Baché 1991 Cuvee des Casterasses Jurancon Sec ($12.95)
Bright gold. Light, nutlike (pecans) aroma; crisp, full and very tart. Vaguely reminiscent of a Fino Sherry. Importer: Kermit Lynch. (May 26, 1996)

Mas Champart 1994 Saint Chinian Rosé ($12)
Pretty pale pink. Light watermelon nose, crisp and tart on the palate. Importer: Kermit Lynch. (May 24, 1996)

Delas 1990 Cuvee Marquise de la Tourette Hermitage ($30)
Meaty, almost like raw hamburger and bacon fat at first, softens with time; massive structure and tannins, too young. Importer: Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. (May 24, 1996)

Chateau Le Reyssac 1995 Bergerac Sec ($5.99)
Clear, pale brass color. Pleasant, characteristic Sauvignon Blanc aroma, green-olive and honeyed floral notes. Crisp, tart flavor, consistent with the nose, clean and fresh in a medium-long finish. Importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky.; Jeffrey Davies Signature Selections. (May 19, 1996)

Domaine d'Hélène 1995 Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Miramont ($4.99)
Dark ruby color. Red-fruit and spicy oak aromas with a whiff of black pepper. Soft, juicy red-fruit flavor, apples and mixed berries; quaffable and clean, went well with rare grilled strip steaks. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky.; a Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selection. (May 14, 1996)

Chateau La Roque 1990 "Cupa Numismae" Cru Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($10.99)
From my cellar, first tasting in about 10 months. Very dark garnet color. Juicy black-fruit and spicy and a whiff of black pepper. Ripe, juicy fruit flavor balanced by crisp acidity, with "earthy" Mourvedre character (it's 40% Mourvedre, 60% Syrah); tannins present but muted, a bit more resolved than a year ago. Excellent wine, still on the uphill side of its evolution. If you can't find the '90 around, the '93, which is similar, may still be more widely available. Producer: Jack Boutin. Importer: Kermit Lynch. (April 26, 1996)

Chateau Sénéjac 1989 Haut-Medoc (about $12 in 1993)
Opaque garnet color. Black-coffee nose, closed and tight; ditto on the palate, clean, tart and tannic but showing little else. After three hours in the glass, it opens only slightly, adding faint vegetal green-bean elements but no fruit. Definitely not its time now; the question is whether it will ever be. (April 21, 1996)

Champalou 1993 Vouvray ($12.49)
Clear, pale brass color, with a lovely, delicate aroma of peaches and melons. Crisp, with a slight edge of sweetness almost concealed behind a wall of bright, tart-sour fresh-fruit acidity. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (April 19, 1996)

Chateau Montus (Alain Brumont) 1990 Madiran ($16.99)
Inky dark purple (it's unfiltered and unfined), with a heady black-fruit aroma, blackberries and black-cherry. Full tart-cherry fruit, crisp lemony acid and firm tannins in excellent balance. This is a big wine, but not a one-dimensional wine, with a long and happy future in the cellar. Importer: Paramount Brands, Port Chester, N.Y., Jeffrey M. Davies Signature Selections. (April 18, 1996)

J.M. et F. Alquier 1992 Réserve La Maison Jaune Faugères ($10.99)
Very dark garnet color. Plummy fruit, floral (rose), tar and smoke aromas. Full red-fruit flavor, plums and apple skin, with the aromatics from the nose carrying through. Rich, almost "chewy," with earthy and organic elements that add complexity but stop well short of "barnyard." Oak is less evident than when I last tasted this wine in June 1995, and the tannins are softening. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (April 9, 1996)

Le Jaja de Jau 1994 Vin de Pays d'Oc ($5.99)
Back label suggests serving the wine cold, an odd thing for a red, so I gave it a try, observing the changes as the wine warmed in the glass. Clear ruby color. Faint, spicy black-cherry when very cold, evolves into good red-fruit (Jonathan apple) aromas as it warms, toppling over into a funky caramel at room temperature. Tart, acidic and short on fruit when it's too cold, but develops good apple and tart-cherry flavors as it warms toward room temperature. My opinion: It's best served with a light chill. It made an excellent match with an Easter baked ham; definitely better with this good food marriage than on its own. Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas. (April 7, 1996)

Domaine de la Guicharde 1994 Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($6.99)
Clear straw color. Light vinous scent, hints of wildflowers. Full, juicy fruit flavor, simple, melon-like, a bit on the soft side. Marked bitter-almond flavors come in on a longish finish. Importer: Weygandt- Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (April 5, 1996)

Le Jaja de Jau 1994 Vin de Pays d'Oc ($5.99)
Clear, bright straw color. Light honey and floral aromas, consistent on the palate, where you'll find juicy, tart and simple fruit with a hint of bitterness appearing in a medium-long finish. Nothing fancy, but certainly gives good service as an affordable table wine. Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas. (March 25, 1996)

Berail-Lagarde 1993 "Roque Sestiere" Corbieres ($7.99)
Clear straw color. Grassy, leafy and light citric notes play in the aroma; if it's not Sauvignon Blanc (and it probably isn't), it's certainly a good imitation. Crisp grapefruit and pineapple on the palate, dry and tart, with honey and bitter almond appearing in a long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (March 23, 1996)

Andre Neveu 1994 "Le Manoir" Sancerre ($15.95)
Clear pale straw color. Lovely varietal aroma, right on the balance point between citrus and grass. Juicy fruit flavor -- remarkably like tangerines -- bone dry, built on a steely armature of tart-fruit acidity. Very good wine, and a perfect match with an Italian-style sea bass baked with olive oil, lemon and white wine. Pushing the limit for a "bargain" wine, but certainly offers value for the price. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (March 15, 1996)

Domaine l'Aigueliere 1993 Montpeyroux Coteaux du Languedoc ($9.99)
Dark garnet color. Definitely "earthy" in the nose, with in-your-face cedar, rose potpourri and linden, with subtle but unmistakable "barnyard/horsey" elements playing around the edges of a very complex aroma. Ripe, mouth- filling red-fruit flavor, consistent with the nose, dry and tart, lingering in a very long finish. Made from undisclosed proportions of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (March 9, 1996)

Chateau de Montmirail 1990 Cuvee des Deux Freres Vacqueyras ($13.99)
Dark garnet color. Pepper, leather and spicy oak aromas. Rich and juicy black-cherry fruit and pepper on the palate, clean and tart; good sour-cherry notes in a long finish. Importer: J et R Selections Ltd., Mount Pleasant, Mich. (Feb. 27, 1996)

Yvon Mau trade tasting.
My notes this day focus on a sales tasting presented by Peter Finkelstein, a representative for the New York-based import firm Yvon Mau, who showed off a couple of dozen of Mau's new offerings in the Louisville area. I'm separating my report on those tastings from my regular Wine Bargain Page notes because I didn't pay for them and because they weren't tasted under analytical conditions. They do offer good value, though. If you wish to review my notes, simply select the highlighted link above to go directly to the special page that contains them. (Feb. 26, 1996)

Chateau Tour du Haut-Moulin 1989 Cussac ($19.99)
Dark garnet color. Rich and complex aromas of cassis, cedar and dark chocolate. Dry, intense fruit flavor punches through a heavy curtain of tannin, full and well balanced. Spectacular with rare steaks, otherwise needs at least five years time for the tannins to soften; with huge fruit and balance six years after the vintage, it shows considerable potential for cellaring. (Feb. 16, 1996)

Mas de Gourgonnier 1993 Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Les Baux de Provence ($6.99)
Clear garnet color. Delicious red-fruit aroma, apple-skin and mixed berries. Flavor consistent with the nose, juicy and ripe; complex organic qualities, hinting at "barnyard" but subtle and light. Crisp red-fruit flavors linger in a very long finish. Outstanding value! Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Feb. 12, 1996)

Chateau Graville-Lacoste 1994 Graves ($11.29)
Clear straw color. Lemon-lime and melon and a definite whiff of grass on the nose. Clean, fresh fruit over a sturdy structure of citric acidity, dry and tart and consistent in a long finish. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 9, 1996)

Theo Faller Domaine Weinbach 1992 Clos des Capucins Alsace Muscat Reserve Personnelle ($13.99)
Clear, pale straw color with a greenish hue. Intriguing aroma, honeydew melon and mandarin orange. Bone-dry and tart tangerine fruit flavor, clean and lingering, with a marked but pleasant bitterness in a long finish. Importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Chester, Vt.; "A Robert Haas Selection." (Jan. 31, 1996)

Hugel 1994 Alsace "Gentil" ($7.99)
Clear straw color. Melon and floral aroma notes. Dry, tart fruit flavor, apples and honeysuckle, with a slight bitterness in a long, clean finish. Importer: Frederick Wildman and Sons Ltd., NYC. (Jan. 28, 1996)

Chateau du Prieure des Mourgues 1991 Saint-Chinian ($9.99)
Clear ruby color. Ripe fruity aroma, black-cherry jam and cooking apples. Clean and juicy red-fruit flavors, well balanced by fresh-fruit acidity. Tannins not evident, but there's so much life in this bottle four-plus years after the vintage, I have to believe that there's aging potential. Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas. (Jan. 22, 1996)

Anne & Francois Gros 1993 Chambolle-Musigny "La Combe d'Orveau" ($24.99)
This and the following note arguably don't fit on the "Wine Bargain Page," but hope springs eternal that someday I'll find a quality Burgundy at a non- Burgundy price. These two recent releases come close, until reality sets in and you realize how much more $15 to $25 will buy in less inflated realms. Dark ruby in color. Rich tomato-skin and perfumed fruit aromas. A bit thin and sour on the palate, but opens up and becomes more complex with extended breathing to unveil juicy tart-cherry fruit and a lightweight rendition of the classic Burgundy "velvety" texture. Slight tannins reveal themselves as astringency in the long finish. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Jan. 21, 1996)

Domaine Bruno Clair 1993 Marsannay ($16.99)
Clear ruby color. Black-cherry and tomato-skin aromas, typical young Pinot. Full tart-cherry fruit, crisp acidity and soft tannins, with green, stemmy flavors showing through. Tasted blind, I might have thought this one was an Oregon Pinot! Some aging potential, but again, it's pushing the limit on value, to say the least. Importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Chester, Vermont. (Jan. 20, 1996)

Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets 1990 Corbieres "Cuvee Reservee ($9.99)
Very dark garnet color. Ripe black-cherry aroma with notes of red fruit, spicy oak and a definite touch of mint. Full, juicy tart-cherry fruit flavor structured with lemony acidity. Tannins present but moderated by the fresh, tasty fruit, surprising in a five-year-old wine. Delicious now, and showing substantial aging potential. Fine wine! Importer: Val d'Orbieu Wines, Dallas. (Jan. 19, 1996)

Andre Neveu 1994 Sancerre "Le Grand Fricambault" ($14.99)
Pale straw color. Pleasant honeydew, musk, mint and piney aroma notes; ripe and juicy fruit flavor over tart, wake-up-the-taste-buds acidity, with melons and honey and aromatic pine hanging on in a very long finish. Starting to push the "bargain" limits, but definitely offers quality for the price. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (Jan. 18, 1996)

Fabien Colin 1993 Vieilles Vignes Pouilly Fume "Les Chaumes" ($11.99)
Clear pale gold. Huge aroma: gooseberries and pine and petrol and a whiff of musk that oddly, and pleasantly (to a cat lover, anyway) evokes cat spray. Bright, mouth-filling gooseberry fruit and piercing acidity; follows the nose, lingers in a shimmering finish like the sound of a distant gong dying into silence. Yeah, I know, that's horrible "winespeak;" but this is really the kind of wine that makes you think of things like that. Great stuff! Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (Jan. 5, 1996)

Domaine Gauby 1992 Cotes du Roussillon ($8.99)
Dark-garnet in color, shaded a bit to purple. Complex aromas, smoke and mixed- berry, with a lot of earthy, forest-floor, tree-bark scents that may reflect oak or Mourvedre grapes, or both. Full and structured flavor, almost chewy, some tannin, reminds me of a robust Rhone like Gigondas. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 4, 1996)

Domaine Lafond 1994 Roc-Epine Tavel ($11.99)
Clear copper color. Light strawberry scent with minty and herbal notes. Crisp and dry flavor, tart and juicy berry fruit; well-balanced and clean. This is an exceptional ros'e, although at 12 bucks, it's pushing the limit on value. Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (Jan. 1, 1996)

Chateau de Cabriac 1993 Cuvee Marquise de Puivert Corbieres ($6.99)
Dark garnet color. Good red-fruit and black-pepper aromas. Apple-skin and cherry-berry flavor over tart-fruit acidity. Back label indicates that it's a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache. Excellent food wine, went nicely with a simple, cassoulet-like dish of leftover duck with white beans and herbs. Importer: Vineyards Brands Inc., Chester, Vt.; a Robert Haas Selection. (Dec. 28, 1995)

Chateau La Lagune 1989 Haut-Medoc ($24.99)
Far in excess of the Bargain Wine Page's usual effort to hold the $10 median, yet this excellent Bordeaux qualifies -- especially for celebratory occasions -- on the basis of outstanding quality for the price. Very dark ruby. Complex aromas, full black-cherry, mint, tobacco leaf, and a faint, pleasant "barnyard" quality, earthy and rich. Full fruit flavor, follows the nose, with tart acidity giving structure; some tannin, but it's quite soft and accessible for such a young wine. Importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (Dec. 27, 1995)

Chateau la Roque 1993 Cupa Numismae Cru Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc ($11.99)
Very dark garnet color. Fragrant pepper and spicy oak frame ripe black-fruit aromas. Full, extracted flavor, apple-skin and mixed berries over firm acidity and ample but accessible tannins. Rich and clean, really an outstanding wine, one of the best from the Languedoc. Just 2,000 cases made; if you find it, grab it. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Dec. 19, 1995)

Chateau d'Epire 1993 Grand Cru d'Anjou Savennieres ($12.99)
Clear light gold. Excellent, complex aroma, intense "mineral" quality, honey and aromatic piney notes. Rich, unctuous and fully dry, steely acidity rings the taste buds like a brass gong; subtle notes of hazelnuts and almonds, ending up clean and pleasantly bitter in a very long finish. This is no simple little white but a large and lusty wine capable of considerable aging potential. Great value. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Dec. 13, 1995)

Verget 1994 St.-Veran ($10.99)
Clear bright brass color. Cooking apples and pleasant musky aroma overtones and white Burgundy "chestnuts." Dry, acidic, almost cidery flavor, mouth- filling and tart. Loses complexity points alongside the Verget Pouilly-Fuisse (below), but still an impressive Chard, blows away the California competition at the price point. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Dec. 12, 1995)

Verget 1994 Pouilly-Fuisse ($15.99)
Clear straw color. Ripe apple scent with complex notes of pine and mint. Rich and full, mouth-filling and clean, layered apples and chestnuts on a sturdy acidic structure. Very good to outstanding wine, will benefit from bottle age. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Dec. 12, 1995)

Joseph Drouhin 1995 Beaujolais-Nouveau Primeur ($8.99)
Clear cherry-red. Characteristic fruity strawberry aroma; tart, fresh berry fruit, much more acidic and structured than the California wine - more like a regular Beaujolais than a Nouveau. Importer: Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., NYC. (Dec. 6, 1995)

Charles Koehly 1994 Alsace "Vieilles Vignes" Auxerrois ($11.99/1 liter)
Clear pale-gold in color. Honeyed cooking apples on the nose, and a rich, dry and juicy apple fruit flavor, well balanced by tart acidity. Simple but fresh (probably best drunk up soon), a tasty table wine that went very well with Yunnan steamed fish with curry and black beans. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va. (Dec. 5, 1995)

Georges Duboeuf 1995 Beaujolais Nouveau ($8.99)
Clear cherry red. Potent cotton-candy and strawberry-banana aroma, the trademark of Duboeuf. Juicy, mouth-filling strawberry fruit, tart and dry, well structured with fresh-fruit acidity. It's actually a pretty good wine, once you get used to that candied-fruit quality that's characteristic of Nouveau. Importer: Winesellers Ltd., Skokie, Ill. (Dec. 4, 1995)

Georges Duboeuf 1994 Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc ($4.99)
Dark ruby color. Candied strawberry aroma, the typical character that virtually all Duboeuf wines share; black-cherry and black-pepper fruit, seems more like a Grenache or Syrah than a Merlot. Soft and quaffable. Importer: Kentucky Wine & Spirits, Louisville. (Dec. 3, 1995)

Domaine Sang des Cailloux 1991 Vacqueras ($9.99)
Very dark garnet color. Plums and fragrant black pepper aromas, with a warm, full-bodied and peppery flavor; juicy, extracted fruit and a delicious "earthy" quality that gives meaning to the domaine name ("blood of the stones"), over a soft but sufficient acidic structure and firm but accessible tannins, suggesting significant aging potential. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif. (Dec. 2, 1995)

Domaine des Alysses 1992 Coteaux Varois ($10.99)
Opaque purple, almost black. Fragrant pepper and black-cherry and red-fruit aromas, consistent on the palate, so fruity that it seems a bit soft at first, but tart cherry and firm tannins appear in mid-palate and hang on in a very long finish. Very good price-quality ratio. ("Organic," back label claims no chemical herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers used in the vineyards.) Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 24, 1995)

Verget 1994 "Tete de Cuvee" Macon-Villages ($9.99)
Clear straw color. Odd but not unpleasant perfumed aroma, apples and honey and a whiff of almonds. Full, creamy mouthfeel, apples and almonds, flavors consistent in a long finish. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 21, 1995)

Domaine de Closel 1993 Clos du Papillon Savennieres ($15.99)
Clear, pale straw color. Tight but complex aromas offer hints of minerals, wildflowers, witch hazel and lime. Full-bodied, crisply acidic flavor, lemon-lime and herbal elements, clean and lasting in a very long finish. Outstanding wine, excellent companion with oysters. Importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 20, 1995)

Burn 1990 Clos St. Imer Goldert Alsace Grand Cru Tokay Pinot Gris ($20.99)
Not a low-end wine, but this delightful white meets the Bargain Wine Page's criteria on the basis of exceptional value. Clear, bright-gold in color, it breathes rich honey and butterscotch aromas. Full, rich fruit on the palate is well balanced by steely acidity; the nearly dry flavor evokes honey and caramel apples. Flavors remain consistent in a very long finish. (Nov. 14, 1995).

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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