[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Eight good wines from France
I regret that an extremely busy period over the past week or 10 days has put me behind on posting wine notes. But I've been keeping up with tasting wine, as the reports below on eight good French wines (and another post on Two Fine Italians) will attest. There's not a loser in the bunch, and at least three of them -- the Ch. Greysac Médoc, the Heritage Brut sparkler from the Loire and a budget-price Cotes-du-Rhone -- stand out as exceptionally good values.

Greysac Chateau Greysac 1995 Cru Bourgeois Médoc ($14.99)
Year in and year out, I've valued Ch. Greysac as a decent Bordeaux of unusual value. During the string of lackluster vintages from 1991 through 1994, though, I found its products -- like most of the low-end properties -- uninspiring at best. Accordingly, it's good news to find it back on form in the 1995 edition, and at a price that offers good value by the inflated standards of Bordeaux. It's inky dark-garnet in color, with good black-fruit aromas entwined with aromatic cedar notes and a whiff of caramel. Full fruit flavors, tart and firm, are framed by palatable tannins that suggest at least modest aging potential. U.S. importer: Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., NYC. (Oct. 30, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: The traditional companion: Roast lamb from the grill -- is still the No. 1 match with Bordeaux. Perfect!

Heritage Brut Heritage non-vintage Brut Blanc de Blancs ($9.99)
Not a Champagne but a sparkling wine from the Loire, made from Pineau de la Loire (Chenin Blanc) and Chardonnay grapes, this is a simple but delightfully fresh and clean bubbly. Very pale straw in color, its forthy mousse dissipates quickly, but a fountain of bubbles continues. Crisp and fresh citric aromas lead into a tart, clean and creamy mouthfeel, dry and tart. Not a complex wine but still, a very good value. U.S. importer: New Castle Imports Inc., Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Oct. 28, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Trying another off-the-wall match to test the notion that sparkling wines go with everything, I served it with a not-too-fiery pork vindaloo. Not bad!

Pierre Sparr Pierre Sparr 1996 Alsace Pinot Gris Reserve ($14.39)
Pale gold in color, with intense muskmelon and apple aromas. Very full and ripe on the palate, flavors follow the nose. Powerful and tart in a long, clean finish. U.S. importer: Commandeur Corp., Minneapolis (Oct. 27, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Pork roast with sauerkraut. It's not a bad match, but as with many top Alsatian wines, the wine is so intense that it almost overpowers even such robust fare as this.

Aubert Max Aubert 1995 Domaine de la Prèsidente Cotes-du-Rhone ($5.99)
Clear garnet. Pleasant spicy black-fruit aroma. Juicy fruit flavor, blackberry jam and fragrant black pepper; a bit soft, but plenty of zippy acidity for structure. Good quaff and a very good value. U.S. importer: Appellation Imports, Annapolis Junction, Md. (Nov. 1, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Fine for washing down chicken sausages with kale and potatoes.

Vieux Mas des Papes Vieux Mas des Papes 1996 Chateauneuf du Pape ($19.99)
Very dark ruby color, shows glints of orange when you hold it up to the light. Scents of intensely fragrant black pepper over plummy fruit; pepper and black fruit carry over to the palate, tart and full. Tannins become evident only in the finish. Good, "clean" expression of Chateauneuf. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Nov. 3, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Perfect with pan-grilled T-bone steak.

Colombier Domaine du Colombier 1997 Crozes-Hermitage ($12.99)
Clear pale straw color. Heady, perfumed floral aromas over fresh pears. Flavors follow the nose, dry and tart, sweet pears and citric acidity lingering in a long, consistent finish. My wife picks up a whiff of the controversial "cat-spray" or "boxwood" character and finds it offensive, but for me it's at the threshold of perception and not at all unpleasant. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Nov. 5, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Works fine with leftover pork and sauerkraut, a combination that calls for a full-bodied, aromatic white.

Joguet Charles Jouguet 1996 Clos de la Cure Chinon ($13.99)
Very dark garnet. Plummy fruit and "leafy," "green" herbaceous aromas of Cabernet Franc. Crisp and juicy fruit flavor, peppery and tart. Clean and tartly acidic, but with plenty of fruit to make the balance come out right. Chinon is an acquired taste for most wine lovers, but this one is a good starting point. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Nov. 7, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Roast chicken with garlic and rosemary; the aromatic herbs in particular make this a fine match.

Cassis Domaine la Ferme Blanche 1997 Cassis ($9.99)
Clear straw color. Citric and crisp aromas, lemons and limes and even a hint of tangerines. Full and bright flavor, a bit one-dimensional but very clean and refreshing; dry and tart and reasonably long. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Nov. 8, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Exceptional match with fish chowder; the wine's citric acidity complements the fish and counterpoints the creamy soup.

Have you tasted these wines?
E-mail me your tasting notes,
and I'll consider adding them to this page.

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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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