Wine classification can be confusing — categorization and branding changes dramatically from one region to another. For example, the Old World tends to identify wines by place, while the New World tends to use grape varietal. It seems a minor shift, but it has enormous implications for the way people perceive wines.
After 13 years running Burgundy’s prestigious Domaine de l’Arlot, Olivier Leriche moved south to the rugged and remote region of Ardèche. More than just a change in landscape, the shift presented Olivier with an entirely new range of grape varietals: carignan, grenache, syrah, cabernet, and others.
For the careful shopper, the Languedoc can be an abundant resource. Long a source for inexpensive wine, the region has only recently become a source for value. There’s still plenty of bad wine made in the vast region, but if you make good choices $13 will take you farther here than just about anywhere else.
Some wines hit a sweet spot between balance, versatility, and price. These are wines to reach for after a long day at work, or to drink while curled up with a book. They’re wines you don’t need to think hard about – uncomplicated, refreshing, and inexpensive.
“Oaked” or “unoaked” sounds like a yes-no question, but it really is a range. Most of the wines we import spend some time in oak, but the strength of its influence depends on the age and size of the barrel, the chauffe (how heavily the inside is charred), and time in the barrel.
France is in the midst of an intense heat wave these days. Though the south of France is no stranger to summer heat, the country’s continental climate is important in helping its wines achieve balance. Grapes that are overripe contain too much sugar, which boosts alcohol levels and flattens the palate.
Francis Muré lives in a charming Alsatian hill town. His small farmhouse nestles on vine-covered slopes near stone streets lined with colorful flower boxes. It’s quaint and picturesque, like something from a children’s storybook.
Cider has seen an explosion in popularity recently. Everyone from large beer companies to small scale New England farms has jumped into the game, and “craft cider” is no longer hard to find.
Francis Muré’s wines were made for the summer. Muré and his wife Josiane run a tiny winemaking operation in the beautiful rolling hills of Alsace. Their wines are uncomplicated and refreshing, the perfect antidote for a warm muggy evening.
Rosé just keeps getting better. With demand on the rise, vignerons are experimenting with new cuvées and interesting blends. The Domaine les Goubert, long our favorite source for Gigondas, joined the game last year with the excellent dry “Rosé de Flo,” a project of the family’s daughter Florence.
The town of Morey-St-Denis exemplifies the small scale of Burgundian winemaking. Wedged between two more famous neighbors, this village of 680 people has a vineyard surface of under 4 tenths of a square mile. It’s dark, delicious, classic red Burgundy — there just isn’t much of it to go around.
“Minerality” is a hard word to define. It appears throughout the wine world, but nobody can quite say what it is. Last year wine writer Lettie Teague called it “a helpful word to describe wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, or herbal.” That’s still pretty vague, but it’s a good start.