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I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Mon Sep 18, 2006 2:31 pm

So far, in the red French arena, we've tried a bordeaux and a beajolais- each about $10. Both were similar in that our initial tast impression was tartness. Also, the flavors were more subtle and more difficult to figure out. I won't be trying these again...next!

Two nights ago we opened a bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot 2002 that was $6.99. Both of us immediately liked it and the aromas and flavors were easier to define. I am going back for more of this.

I know I've only had 2 bottles of french wine so far. But, are they, in general, more subtle and tart to the taste buds?

BTW, on the fourth day, I started liking the beaujolais better. Maybe it's an aquired taste.
In vino veritas...
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Ian Sutton » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:14 pm

Ronica
IMO it's a common issue in cheaper Bordeaux, though I do expect them (in time) to improve the entry level wines balance (i.e get them near ripeness, but at the possible expense of typicity). Beaujolais offers decent value, but is something of an acquired taste, or even a "mood" wine.

In reds, perhaps going south within France might appeal more. Cote du Rhone from a decent producer will typically be a little rounder and fuller without any glaring unripe notes. Elsewhere, the languedoc is putting out some decent wines at reasonable prices. Again this area is warmer on the whole, so it might present some interest.

But don't give up on Bordeaux yet. Put it to one side for now and concentrate on other areas. However if you get to taste a good mature example then it should demonstrate why people go ga-ga about it. Worth looking forward to, but it can wait!

Keep having fun!

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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by James Dietz » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:59 pm

Pretty much what Ian said. If you want a good entry level Bordeaux, it is going to cost a bit more... you might find Fontenil 2000 for under $20...or Pontensac, Cote de Baleau, d'Armailhac for a couple dollars more....

The truth is, US wines are likely to be more fruity and up-front from the get go. Kinda easy to drink and like. But as you try more wines, you will, more than likely, start to enjoy the subtleties of old world wines, which often are less in your face. So, you are right.. some of these wines are an acquired taste. But wait until you have one that is outstanding.. OMG... then the spending will begin.
Cheers, Jim
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Covert » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:47 pm

Ronica, maybe you should be my niece. You seem to post subjects I can not resist responding to.

I agree with those who suggest you try inexpensive Bordeaux (not cheap). You could try cru bourgeois level wines to start with, then move even lower as you find what qualities you like in the reds.

I said I hope that you will develop a taste in Bordeaux. Not to inherit my collection, but just to experience something that I think is very special.

Your tag line is "In wine there is truth." That's true, but not in all wine, I don't think. I thought it was interesting that Johnny Depp was interviewed in Decanter Magazine this month. God knows that he can buy anything to make him happy. 'They' said that he used to give Kate Moss baths in Champagne. He denied that in the interview, but said that Bordeaux can take him to Heaven.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Dave Erickson » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:48 pm

Don't give up on the Beaujolais, either. The '05s are big and ripe, like the '03s, and very approachable.

On the general subject: When I first started drinking wine, I liked California wines. They were fruity, they were accessible, and I could understand the language on the label. Eventually, though, I became bored with them, and here's why: In my experience, most California wines, including the expensive ones, say everything they have to say about themselves in the first sip. It may be good, it may even be great--but that's all you're getting. As I've become older (damn I hate saying that) I have not necessarily become wiser, but I have learned to expect more from wine. For me, the greatest pleasure in a good wine is the way it reveals itself over the course of time. That's why I'm always tempted to spend idiotic amounts of money on Burgundies, because of the way they slowly give themselves up and reveal new aromas and flavors.

But that's down the road. In the meantime, as we say here at home, drink what you like, and like what you drink. Try a Montepulciano di Abruzzo. They're cheap and they're tons of fun to drink. Also investigate Spanish cheapies--they can be nicely fruit forward and still display some complexity. Borsao, Protocolo, Vina Borgia, Alba Liza, there's a bunch of 'em.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:50 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Ronica
IMO it's a common issue in cheaper Bordeaux, though I do expect them (in time) to improve the entry level wines balance (i.e get them near ripeness, but at the possible expense of typicity). Beaujolais offers decent value, but is something of an acquired taste, or even a "mood" wine.

In reds, perhaps going south within France might appeal more. Cote du Rhone from a decent producer will typically be a little rounder and fuller without any glaring unripe notes. Elsewhere, the languedoc is putting out some decent wines at reasonable prices. Again this area is warmer on the whole, so it might present some interest.



Ian


Thanks, Ian, I will try some from the Rhone and am looking forward to tasting a very high quality Bordeaux at some point.
In vino veritas...
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:54 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Don't give up on the Beaujolais, either. The '05s are big and ripe, like the '03s, and very approachable.


But that's down the road. In the meantime, as we say here at home, drink what you like, and like what you drink. Try a Montepulciano di Abruzzo. They're cheap and they're tons of fun to drink. Also investigate Spanish cheapies--they can be nicely fruit forward and still display some complexity. Borsao, Protocolo, Vina Borgia, Alba Liza, there's a bunch of 'em.


I'm not going to give up on the French wines, my thinking was that maybe that is how they are suppose to taste and an acquired taste for California red drinkers.

I have lots and lots on my list to try from around the world. The only thing holding me back is $$$$$ :cry:
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:57 pm

Covert wrote:Ronica, maybe you should be my niece. You seem to post subjects I can not resist responding to.

I agree with those who suggest you try inexpensive Bordeaux (not cheap). You could try cru bourgeois level wines to start with, then move even lower as you find what qualities you like in the reds.

I said I hope that you will develop a taste in Bordeaux. Not to inherit my collection, but just to experience something that I think is very special.

.


Covert, thanks for responding to my posts. I'm always so worried I'm asking a dumb question. I will continue to try Bordeaux until I experience what I keep hearing about. I'm looking forward to it.
In vino veritas...
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Kevin Glowacki » Mon Sep 18, 2006 6:29 pm

My fiance has the same issue with French wine, though with a few exceptions. She really liked a very old Bordeaux we tried at an Open That Bottle Night event back in February and a 2004 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Fleurie.

As posted above, Old World vs. New World is a very common topic amongst wine drinkers and their preferences. Take a look at Andrea Immer Robinson's book Great Wine Made Simple for some of her lessons in comparing the two general styles.

For a decent Bordeaux around $20, see if you can find a bottle of 2000 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon, a nice Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc AC.

Just keep on trying things and with Old World wines, pay attention to the vintage date, which makes a much larger difference than in most New World wines.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by David Creighton » Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:34 pm

hi - glad you are with us. will be gone for several days; but will try to remembere to repsond to any comments on friday. i can understand not liking bordeuax on first try; but Beaujolais? it would help when yo u post to tell us specifically what you tried. someone might say - "well, of course you didn't like that". beaujolais is usually very user friendly; but very different from the fatter even sweeter new world stuff. when i started into wine, i studied first and drank after. bordeaux was listed as one of the great wines so i knew that at some point i had to either like it or give up. i finally found a store withh older bordeaux - ok, this was what it was all about. so, i tasted the younger ones to try to figure out what would be good when it was older. was lucky enough to be able to do that. please don't get stuck with these sweetish and more simple wines - its a trap you may never escape from. try the classics and try to figure out why they are considered the worlds greatest wines. neither of us are the first people to ever drink wine and hundreds of years of experience precede us. best luck and best regards; david
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Carl Eppig » Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:35 pm

We agree with the suggestion for a Monte (Montepulciano di Abruzzo). They are our go to wines, week in and week out. The food does not have to be Italian. They will go with just about anything. If you pay more than $10 U.S. for one, you have paid too much.

Also fully concur with "Great Wine Made Simple." It could be the very best book ever written for a beginner, and it has information to help most others. Her style in contagious too.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by OW Holmes » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:29 pm

Ronica, not all French wines are tart to the taste. As suggested by others, try a Cotes du Rhone, or another wine from the Southern Rhone Valley, which are among the best bargains in wine available today. I find the Languedoc wines a bit more restrained and "tart" than Southern Rhone wines, but they can be really great. Try to find some Chateau La Roque or some Chateau St. Martin or actually anything from Pic St. Loup.

But don't feel bad if you actually prefer California fruit forward modern wines to more restrained French wines. I poured a glass of '98 Chateauneuf du Pape for a friend this weekend. It was a glorious wine, at the beginning of its prime period, just fabulous with 24 hours of air. It was the most pleasurable wine I've had since MoCOOL. Other friends that night thought it the best they had had all year. His reaction, "Hmm. Not very good, is it?" And you know what, he was right. For him, only his taste buds count. It doesn't matter that some of us thought it great. To him it was "not very good." You don't have to like a wine just because others do, or because it gets a bunch of points. Trust yourself.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by TimMc » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:23 pm

I'd stack California Zinfindels against French Zins any day.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Howie Hart » Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:03 pm

Ronica - take the time to read Graeme Gee's post titled "WTN: Mostly First Growths" and think in terms of ideal French Reds. Lesser properties and younger vintages generally won't measure up. Mature great wines, especially Bordeaux (I have very limited exposure to Burgundy) can be truly awe inspiring.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Isaac » Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:46 pm

TimMc wrote:I'd stack California Zinfindels against French Zins any day.
Even if they have screwcaps? :wink:
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Isaac » Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:47 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Ronica - take the time to read Graeme Gee's post titled "WTN: Mostly First Growths" and think in terms of ideal French Reds. Lesser properties and younger vintages generally won't measure up. Mature great wines, especially Bordeaux (I have very limited exposure to Burgundy) can be truly awe inspiring.
Sure, Howie, but who can afford them?
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by James Dietz » Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:53 pm

Isaac wrote:
Howie Hart wrote:Ronica - take the time to read Graeme Gee's post titled "WTN: Mostly First Growths" and think in terms of ideal French Reds. Lesser properties and younger vintages generally won't measure up. Mature great wines, especially Bordeaux (I have very limited exposure to Burgundy) can be truly awe inspiring.
Sure, Howie, but who can afford them?


Maybe not first growths, but there are very nice 2d-5th growths that can be had in the $50ish range... we had a wonderful Leoville Barton 1997 that we bought from K&L (http://www.KLwines.com) that shows what Bordeaux is all about. Poujeaux is often in the $30s, and can be excellent. Or Lagrange. Instead of buying 5 $10 bottles, buy 1 $50 bottle.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Alan Uchrinscko » Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:17 pm

Do you drink beer? I find beer to be analogous.

American beers (microbrews) are full-flavored and in your face: think of the very hoppy character of Sierra Nevada for instance.

Try a Sam Smith's Brown Ale. Or Chimay. More subtle. More intellectual. It doesn't smack you in the face, but before long, you realize there's just as much flavor.

It's the same thing with comparing American wines to many of their European counterparts.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:36 pm

I find myself going to World Market for wine. They seem to have a good selection, if only the staff were as wine savvy as you all.

Anyway, they have about 6-7 Bordeaux that range from $12-$50. The manager recommended one to me that he tried and liked. I'll let you know what I try and how I like it.

I've written down all the suggestions you all have given. Thanks! I did get two Rhone wines from World Market. Tried one Cotes du Ventoux and liked it. It had a pleasant aroma w/ soft fruit and light spice on the nose. There were also vegetal hints. It was dry w/ med. tannins, on the light to med. bodied side w/ flavors of peppers and earth. It was fairly smooth, but the finish was brief.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by James Dietz » Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:27 pm

RonicaJM wrote:I find myself going to World Market for wine. They seem to have a good selection, if only the staff were as wine savvy as you all.

Anyway, they have about 6-7 Bordeaux that range from $12-$50. The manager recommended one to me that he tried and liked. I'll let you know what I try and how I like it.

I've written down all the suggestions you all have given. Thanks! I did get two Rhone wines from World Market. Tried one Cotes du Ventoux and liked it. It had a pleasant aroma w/ soft fruit and light spice on the nose. There were also vegetal hints. It was dry w/ med. tannins, on the light to med. bodied side w/ flavors of peppers and earth. It was fairly smooth, but the finish was brief.


You've definitely got the TN lingo down already.. .and seem to have a very good palate. You are well on your way to wine geek status!!
Cheers, Jim
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Howie Hart » Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:33 pm

Isaac wrote:Sure, Howie, but who can afford them?

Not me, at least on any kind of regular basis, but every few years or so I splurge. My supply of home made wine at <$2.50 per bottle allows me to afford an occasional luxury. 8)
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Paul Winalski » Wed Sep 20, 2006 11:48 pm

RonicaJM wrote:So far, in the red French arena, we've tried a bordeaux and a beajolais- each about $10. Both were similar in that our initial tast impression was tartness. Also, the flavors were more subtle and more difficult to figure out. I won't be trying these again...next!

Two nights ago we opened a bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot 2002 that was $6.99. Both of us immediately liked it and the aromas and flavors were easier to define. I am going back for more of this.


Keep in mind the shipping and tarriff costs of European vs. American wines. For a fair comparison, you should compare American wines with those from Europe of double (or more!) the price. What can you get from the USA in the $4-$5 range to compare to that $10 Bordeaux? Ripple or MD-20/20, perhaps? :twisted:

-Paul W.
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by RonicaJM » Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:11 am

Paul Winalski wrote:
Keep in mind the shipping and tarriff costs of European vs. American wines. For a fair comparison, you should compare American wines with those from Europe of double (or more!) the price. What can you get from the USA in the $4-$5 range to compare to that $10 Bordeaux? Ripple or MD-20/20, perhaps? :twisted:

-Paul W.


Good point. I know I need to spend more. I think I will do one or two splurge bottles a month. I'm planning my October case purchase now.
In vino veritas...
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Re: I need your expert opinions again. California reds vs French reds

by Jenise » Thu Sep 21, 2006 4:26 pm

Ronica, mostly everything that needs to be said has, but perhaps it won't hurt if I repeat a few things: You may never like Bordeauxs, but don't judge the category by what sounds like a poor example. And frankly any that only costs $10 is going to be a poor example. However, French wines in general will tend to have more acidity than New World wines, so it's understandable that a poor example would simply taste tart to someone whose palate exposure has mostly been to fruitier, softer New World wines. As Oliver implied, there are many good reasons why some of us are gaga about Bordeaux and it's not because we enjoy sour wines!

Also, not sure what you tasted before or with your Bordeaux and Beaujolais wines, but the company a wine is tasted in can also make quite a difference. Acidic wines need food, and tannic wines need tannin mops like bread and beef to show well in youth. Usually a bit of oxygen too: are you decanting/aerating your wines prior to drinking? An hour or so in an open decanter can do wonders to free up some fruit.
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