Chateau Rigaud Faugeres 2007

     Ok so I haven’t written about wine for a while; it isn’t for lack of experimentation. I recently went and hit Total Wine and B-21, two of the largest wine retailers in the Sarasota-Bradenton-St. Pete area. I bought about twenty-five bottles in the $12-$30 range; the best of the litter so far is Chateau Rigaud “Faugeres” 2007.  Here is the Wine Advocate review. Parker barrel tasted it, and I agree with the “vivacity” and “ripe-richness”.  The family had a great dinner tonight, Jim M. is home so he cooked up some great rack of lamb ribs while i did the garlic mashed potatoes and a seafood pot pie. We had a key lime pie and coffee for dessert. Now the pot pie is simple yet awesome; Bristol Bay, Alaska salmon, Alaskan cod, sautéed pearl onions. I added a bit of browned sage sausage for the hell of it this time. And even though the crust came out buttery, sweet, and brown, we decided to put it off until brunch tomorrow: just too much. So: back to the wine. We had this huge platter of grilled lamb, the wine was slightly less than room temp at the beginning of the meal maybe 65f. it was good, but interestingly the tannins were in the forefront, (and they WERE there) and then the Parker fruit bomb burst at the end. That was fine, it went well with the well-herbed and spiced chops, even with the roasted garlic mashed. As it warmed up to room temp however, everything smoothed out. I took a swig straight from the bottle after everyone hit the rack, (went to bed for you brits) heathen that I am. Silky, but without the density Parker mentions-not that it isn’t structured, but if HE says density, I figure a little overload. This was just a nice middle-way, more than water but less than milk. Nice. Next, a couple of ounces in a stemless Riedel Burgundy glass. The nose is…fragrant, almost like that of an excellent IPA- the follow through swallow is a blend of tannins and round sweetness that usually means a pricier wine. Absolutely coats the teeth and the glass afterward, you’ll need the enamel-replacing toothpaste, and i guess that’s a good thing. Parker says a “mind-boggling value”. Maybe a bit of hyperbole on his part, but this wine at $14 beats the rest that I had in the $20-$30 range for French and Spanish reds this month. Finally: the grapes. The bottle says appellation Faugeres, and that it is a red Languedoc wine. I was thinking a Merlot-Cabernet blend- it is actually Syrah and Grenache, like many Cotes du Rhones. Whatever; it is good.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut

Ok, i told my bro-in-law I’d get writing again, and what a nice topic this is: a Cotes du Roussillon Villages wine…I saw it at the Wine Discount Center on Elston, actually got an email from them here. This is, as the write-up mentions, a Top 100 wine this year…for $11.99!

     I decanted the bottle yesterday.  Like many French wines, it is a blend: Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan, the last being an old vine deignee. The first sip while eating a little ham and brie? A little too muscular, slight pepper, and even medicinal. extreme dark, obscuring coloration, heavy on the palate w/slight tannins.

     Doesn’t sound like I would like it, eh? Well i gave it an hour, and then tried it with beef, a better pairing as the first coupling was one of opportunity, while the second was by design. Mmmm. A convergence. The wine had relaxed, was much lighter on the palate (which is what I am looking for these days) while the pepper from the syrah was much more forward but in complete, absolute harmony with the other elements. This is a mouth filler without overstaying its welcome. Long finish… but round. Little tannins to speak of.

     Ok, you say that was by design, an intended result by the addition of the beef dish? No. I corked it overnight. Today around one I had lunch, and there was not a hint of difference after a day. Longevity- we like that in a wine. And according to the Spectator, this is just the beginning of Bila-Haut’s run. Drinkable 2010-2017. This, at this price? Get it by the case.

two nice european wines

     A few weeks ago I tried and enjoyed la Vielle Ferme 2008, a Cote du Ventoux red; found it at  Just Grapes downtown Chicago for a reasonable $11.99. Yesterday, well yesterday I was in the Wine Discount Center on Elston and found the same vintage for $6.99! This is my find of the year, two months in. You will not find a better quality wine anywhere in the U.S. for that price. If you are in the area, stop buying that crap Barefoot stuff, spend a dollar more, and buy it by the case, what a great daily house wine. Another good deal there is the Olivares Altos de la Hoya 2008.  apparently it recieved a 91 rating by International Wine Cellar, and at $8.99 a bottle, also unbeatable- except by maybe the aforementioned French red. Finally, a bit of serendipity- the guy helping me decide (Rob) turns out to be a DLI alum, from 1970- a Chinese linguist who also worked for NSA!