Wednesday a late afternoon speech was followed by that horror of parenthood, "back to school night." My last one, thank God. By the time I dragged myself home I was happy with some salad and cheese, and a glass of the excellent Filliatreau "La Grande Vignolle" from the night before. This had really developed in the glass, with coffee and leather overlaying the bright dark fruit. Thursday I dashed home for dinner before accompanying Betsy into city, where she did a great job with a lot of soloes in Handel's "Semele" (amusing production, where Semele=Marilyn Monroe, Juno=Jackie O , etc.). But before we left she had managed to get a nice dinner on the table- lamb chops in a herb/garlic marinade. That made me think S. Rhone, but what was handy without going to cellar was the 2004 Famille Iche "Les Hérétiques" (Vin de Pays de l'Herault). This value winner from the owner of Minervois's Ch. Oupia comes through again. Warm plummy fruit with a dark berry edge, a bit of herbiness over the ripe fruit. Tasted again tonight it has some smoky notes as well as that herby edge. Nice wine, not exceptionally complex, but as good as I know of in the under $8 red category. B/B+
Friday I again dashed home to have dinner, though only Betsy was going to performance. Our favorite veal recipe- chops sauteed with sage leaves, and this time accompanied by barley and salad. I find rich whites accompany this well, and send into the batter's box the white that is taking up space in the fridge, the 2004 Rijckaert "Chante Merle" Chardonnay (Arbois). I thought I had read of this as unoaked Chard, but there's a dose of wood evident (or so it seems to me) on opening. But the oaky notes aren't especially intrusive, and I enjoy the pear and lemon fruit, as well as a little chalky underlay. There's a nutty note that I usually associate with some Italian whites. Good acidity. Retasted tonight, the oak and nut notes have faded, it seems more typically Chardonnay. Seems like a decent value at $13/14, I might get another just because it's a bit unusual. B
Reports of the demise of the 1996 Ch. Potensac (Medoc) are greatly exaggerated. Nice earthy nose with solid if not exuberant cassis fruit, a balanced medium-bodied wine with nice finish. There's a rather vivid graphite streak down the middle, framed by the fruit and a nice Old World acidity. Not a blockbuster, just a solid Cru Bourgeois. I wouldn't pay the $30 I saw this for recently, but very happy I paid $16 a few years ago (not on release, sure it was much cheaper then). B+/B
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.