Tuesday, April 16, 2013

French value wines

I have been travelling in Europe during the last few weeks and have spent little time on wine. Hence no blogging. However, I tasted a number of cheaper (under 20 euros per bottle) red wines. This seemed attractive, as the 2009 and 2010 vintages are so highly regarded, in particular in Bordeaux and the Rhone.

Overall, the results have been disappointing. While there was more intensity of fruit than in lesser years, I found that the flavours were often a little simple and the structure unbalanced. A better example, but still along these lines, is the 2009 Chateau Meyney (86 points). Generally, wines from the Rhone faired a little better. This is because the varieties grown there, in particular Shiraz and Grenache, are more forgiving to less than perfect viticulture or winemaking than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The best wine I drank in this category is also one of the highest volume wines. It was a 2010 Guigal Cote du Rhone. This wine impressed with the purity of its fruit and a generous, but balanced mouthfeel (92 points). It speaks of the superb winemaking skills of the house of Guigal to produce such a good wine from fruit from many different suppliers which it cannot fully control.

So the moral of the story is that the often quoted strategy of buying lesser wines in good years may not generate the hoped for results, and in fact may deprive you of the experience that can be had from the outstanding wines of these vintages, even though pricing may make this a rarer event than one would like.