What moderately priced wine have you and your family been enjoying most in recent weeks? And why do you like it?
Rather than get too caught up in the exact bottles that our contributing winemakers are enjoying now, think about the kinds of wines they’re drinking. You should have little trouble finding acceptable equivalents in the retail market.
Matthew Donaldson and Lynnette Hudson, Pegasus Bay Winery (New Zealand). Tonight we are enjoying a bottle of 2006 Huet Le Haut-Lieu Vouvray Sec. I gave it to Lynnette blind and she thought it was Meursault. In fact, I had to check the label myself. But, seriously, this is an amazingly, deliciously refreshing drink for a Sunday night. Not too lean, but just mineral enough to keep it real.
Olivier Humbrecht, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (France). Very easy: My everyday great red wine is the Minervois La Livinière 2003 from Domaine de Courbissac. It is made using biodynamic methods by Marc Tempé, a friend of mine and also an Alsace winemaker. It is a great wine with lots of red fruits, superb complexity and a luscious palate. It retails in France for about 9€. There is no need to think with this wine: open it up and drink it with pleasure.
For white wine, I love the Domaine de Saint Nicolas in the Fiefs Vendéens. The wine is the Cuvée Les Clous, made from pure chenin blanc grapes grown on slate soils, barely above sea level and facing the ocean. As to the vintage: whatever is available now; it’s 2007 for me now. This is a dry, crisp wine but with good structure and length. It’s easy with everything and has wonderful slatey/mineral flavours that are very easy to drink. I’m not sure about the price in the U.S., but in France it’s around 12€. The wine is made by Thierry Michon, also en biodynamie.
Josh Bergström, Bergström Wines (Oregon). One of the late winter wines that I am enjoying right now (until the multiple rosés from southern France start hitting the market) is the Domaine Faury Saint-Joseph. For the money, this wine is packed with so much intensity and concentration. I love the intense cassis and dark berry fruits that play with the classic olive and herbal notes from this appellation. There is also great minerality in this wine, which helps keep it a serious contender vs. just a fruity sipper. Very fun wine and it goes great with late winter/early spring barbecues in Oregon . . . when we wish the sun would just come out already!
Michael Twelftree, Two Hands Wines (Australia). Over the past few weeks we have really enjoyed a number of yummy 2007 Beaujolais and a number of brilliant 2009 South Australian Rieslings. The two standout Beaujolais bottlings have been the 2007 Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py and the 2007 Chignard Fleurie Vielles Vignes Cuvée Spéciale. The two head-shaking rieslings have been the KT and the Falcon Peglidis Vineyard Watervale and Zar Brook’s breathtaking Dandelion Vineyards “Wonderland of the Eden Valley” from 98-year-old vines. (In fact this reminds me to go and grab another case this afternoon!)
The KT (Kerry Thompson) riesling is off Bunny Peglidis’s brilliant vineyard in the Clare Valley. Two Hands takes all of Bunny’s shiraz and Kerry gets all the Riesling. We get to taste the patch of riesling that makes this wines every year, as it between two of Bunny’s better shiraz parcels. Matt and I are always extremely impressed with the band and width of flavour this displays in the vineyard. A week ago I bought six bottles of the KT to cellar but after only one week there were only two bottles left. My wife Samantha had discovered them!
Also in the last months we have also discovered the stunning Launois Champagnes. The quality of these Champagnes scares me and we have savoured quite a few bottles. I am normally underwhelmed by most Champagnes and retire quite easily after a glass, but these Launois wines have me excited and rushing to the cellar for more.
Luca Currado, Cantina Vietti (Italy). This question is perfect! At my house with my family we like to try and drink a lot of “not” Piemontese wines. Last week my wife bought clams and tuna steak and she asked what we could drink. I had a few bottles of local Arneis to open, but I decided to go into the cellar and take a bottle of Ansonica 2008 from La Parrina (southern Maremma). Ansonica is an old indigenous variety from the Tuscan seaside that is becoming very popular now. The wine was just perfect for the evening. We did not want a light or heavy woody syrupy wine. The Ansonica was floral and mineral, with a hint of hydrocarbons, medium body and fresh citric acidity on the end. Just a perfect wine for a simple and relaxing dinner with the family. The next day I purchased a case for the summer.
Isabel Ferrando, Domaine Saint-Préfert/Domaine Isabel Ferrando (France). I opened on Sunday with the family a bottle of white wine from the Domaine Laougué, vinified by Pierre Dabadie in the Madiran appellation. This dry white wine Pacherenc du Vic Bilh 2008 was beautiful, bright and lemony. I served it with an entrée of asparagus drizzled with warm olive oil. The agreement was perfect, and the wine was almost saline, with iodine notes and citrus. It sublimated the asparagus, supporting the cool smoothness of the vegetable. This wine is an outstanding value for money (less than 20 U.S. dollars) and delighted all of us.
Ken Forrester, Ken Forrester Wines (South Africa). I’m able to offer a rare assessment (for me) of some Italian wines, as we are currently on a ski trip in the Alps. It’s truly a happy hunting ground and I’m all in favour of hunting down the local knowledge. So here are a red and a white that came highly recommended, and we thoroughly enjoyed them both: they fit the price point and both are delicious! First, the Terre di Tufi 2008 from Teruzzi & Puthod in San Gimignano. It’s a deliciously soft yet mouthfilling blend predominantly of grenache blanc and chardonnay. And the 2004 Terrabianca Campaccio from the Chianti region: a blend of cherry and spice with some fruitcake in its depths. This combination of 70% sangiovese and 30% cabernet sauvignon was really delicious with a grilled entrecote of beef with café de Paris sauce.
John Duval, John Duval Wines (Australia). My family and I have really been enjoying the 2009 Turkey Flat Marsanne/Viognier/Roussanne. The Barossa is quite well known for its delicate Eden Valley rieslings and ageworthy semillions, but some more recent plantings of white Rhône varieties are very encouraging. I have just finished crushing my 2010 vintage, and this style of wine is very easy to drink after a long day in the winery. I especially like the way this wine combines crispness and minerality with delicious stone fruit and citrus character.
Jeremy Seysses, Domaine Dujac (France). Most of what I drink is moderately priced wine, as it happens. I’ve been especially enjoying the following wines of late:
2007 Trabener Gaispfad Riesling Kabinett from Weingut Weiser-Künstler. One of the small, new producers in Traben-Trachbach, working his vineyards without any herbicides (a minority in the Mosel, unfortunately). This still has some of the musky quality of young riesling, with a bit of reduction, and shows a lot of limey fruit. The vineyard speaks volume in this wine, which is wonderfully light-footed.
2007 Morgon Côte du Py from Foillard. Everything I look forward to in Beaujolais is present in this wine: good chewy fruit, concentration and balance. But Foillard seems to get something more than most in terms of complexity, length and texture. It’s a really full picture and great with rustic winter food. I enjoyed it at Chez Casimir, just before heading to the Stade de France to watch the French rugby team beat the Irish side convincingly. It tasted all the better for it.
The weather is making me wait a little for this, but I am looking forward to drinking lots of rosé as soon as spring arrives.
Marc Hugel, Hugel et Fils (France). Stéphane Tissot’s 2005 Arbois Chardonnay “Les Bruyères” for its originality and strong character.
Jean-François Ganevat’s 2006 Côtes du Jura “Les Grandes Teppes” for its depth, maturity and complexity.
Jean Thévenet’s 1996 Macon-Clessé for its white truffle character and its incredibly high individuality.
Ferret-Lorton’s 2007 Pouilly-Fuissé ”Les Ménétrières” for its fantastic terroir character—deep and subtle at the same time, so fine!
Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi’s 2004 Chianti Rocca di Montegrossi “San Marcellino” (the talented but least known of the three Ricasolis) for its breed, depth and superb “natural” character, without make-up. This wine should have beautiful aging capacity.
Elisabetta Foradori’s 2002 Dolomiti Teroldego “Granato”—an unbelievable achievement with this wild and exacting variety. It’s very original, with a combination of elements that you hardly ever find together.
Philippe Foreau’s 2008 Vouvray Sec for its ripeness, character, depth and aging capacity. And it’s a good bargain too!
Christophe Delorme’s 2000 Domaine de la Mordorée Lirac Rouge. What a great wine for such a price! Better than many Châteauneuf du Papes. Ripe, deep, perfectly made, sumptuous, with 20 years of aging capacity.
And so many more, but as we are supposed to be “moderates” with wine in France…
Christian Seely, Quinta do Noval and Château Pichon-Baron (Portugal and France). Spring has finally arrived here in Bordeaux, and I have been drinking Fino and Manzanilla sherries over the past couple of weeks. For some reason I associate them with being outside, and they are my favourite wines to drink while preparing Saturday or Sunday morning barbecues. I love sherry of all kinds, with probably old Amontillado being my favourite, but a good Fino such as Tio Pepe or a Manzanilla like La Guita, or the Papirusa from Lustau, is a wonderful glass of wine at a price which seems to me an amazing bargain for the quality it delivers.
Dave Powell, Torbreck Vintners (Australia). I’ll go with the 2007 Quivira Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley at about $20. This is a good honest wine that reflects its varietal correctness and has a sense of place without being over the top. And it also happens to be made by one of the first wineries in the U.S. to adopt biodynamic principles.
Lamberto Frescobaldi, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi (Italy). At home or away, when I want to have a good wine that doesn’t cost a fortune, I usually pick a Morellino di Scansano. This wine comes from the south of Tuscany and is generally very good. It’s not yet easy to find, since there are only about 30 producers, but it’s worth looking for if you want to find good bottle to enjoy with your friends one evening. I especially like like the Morellino di Scansano produced by a winery called Le Pupille. It’s a very consistent wine that you can find at a price below 15 dollars and I can tell you that it’s a joy to drink. Nice plum character with a hint of dark chocolate. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a long, fruity finish.
Yves Cuilleron, Domaine Yves Cuilleron (France). Recently I tasted the Domaine de l’Hortus 2006 Clos du Prieur, from the Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup appellation. It’s a very interesting wine with a beautiful colour, a good balance, soft tannins, and very easy to drink. I recommend it highly.
Rupert Symington, The Symington Group (Portugal). I recently bought 24 bottles of Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007 from the new Portuguese importer for Perrin, and I have to say on opening the first bottle I was mightily impressed. As a huge northern and southern Rhône fan anyway, this bottle delivered everything I could ask for from a medium-priced Châteauneuf. I have had Coudoulet many times before at tastings in the U.S. and in Canada, and while it is nearly always overshadowed when tasted alongside the main Château de Beaucastel bottling, it is still remarkably complex and unquestionably better than quite a number of wines from the region that sell at higher prices. The figgy, spicy 2007 went down beautifully with a simple roast chicken cooked with fresh herbs from the garden accompanied by cauliflower with cheese. This was my homecoming dinner after two weeks travelling in the U.S., and I certainly wasn’t in a state to be thinking too hard, so Coudoulet could possibly be my perfect “jetlag wine.”