Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: When you need to find another choice
Has it ever happened to you that you once found a wine you love, with a reasonable price, but going back to it now you find it just isn't the same as it used to be?
Maybe it's not the wine. Tastes change over time, and sometimes I find that I have outgrown the wine that I initially loved as I learn and sample new wines.
Or even worse, you still love the wine but you just can't get your hands on it anymore. If it's a question of access, the thing to do is call your local wine shop. If a wine is out there, there is a good chance they can bring it in for you.
And sometimes, the wine has indeed changed and isn't quite to your taste anymore. There is a Bordeaux that Wendy and I used to drink regularly up to a few years ago, called Domaine de Courteillac, from the Entrex-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. This is not the region that produces the first growths, but one that produces good quality everyday wines, and some a real distinction. Years ago, it was a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We used to keep it at home regularly, but then the supplies dried up. I was able to find a few bottles of it in Massachusetts last year, but the blend had changed, and it just wasn't the same.
So, what to do?
Find something else that can take its place. In one of the wine classes that I took through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, we were assigned to pretend we were wine merchants. We were to imagine that someone would come into the shop asking for a specific European wine, an Old World wine, which of course was not available anywhere west of Normandy. The task, then, was to suggest a New World wine that was very similar.
Here's an example:
Looking for a Bordeaux blend that's not outrageously priced? Try the Bordeaux style blends of California or of South Africa, like Stellenbosch. Strike out there? There are Bordeaux style blends from the Bekka Valley of Lebanon that fit the bill. Still no luck? Try the Rappel Valley subregion of Chile. Are they out of that too? Look to Australia: Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River region or Coonawara.
Are you looking for a good French Sauterne with its strong and delicious botrytis flavors to pair with dessert? Oh, and you don't happen to have $300 weighing down your pocket to buy a half bottle of the top-of-the-line French ones? Australia's Hunter Valley Semillon will fit the bill and the pocketbook.
Looking for some of the deep, strong reds from the southwest of France? Turn to the Tannat wines of Uruguay and you won't be disappointed.
What about white wines? Maybe a Pouilly-Fuisse white made from Chardonnay, say in the Macconais? Back to Australia again, in this case the Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, or Hunter Valley. In South America, a Chilean Casablanca Valley Chardonnay would also give you the tropical fruits found in its French counterpart.
And, of course, there is the ethereal Pinot Noir. Are the Burgundy wines out of stock or out of your range? Try California's Carneros and Sonoma/Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Oregon's Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, New Zealand's Matrtinborough, Malbourough and Central Otago regions, and Australia's Yarra Valley. If there's a will, there's a way.
Anyway, my ongoing search for a right-bank Bordeaux blend caused me to pick one I had not seen before:
Château Lamothe de Haut, 2010 , Cote de Bordeaux; $19.49; 13.5% abv. Medium intensity purple wine with a medium-minus nose of black fruit. It is developing. The palate is dry with medium-plus tannin that just starts to coat the teeth. Medium-level alcohol that is very well integrated. Medium body, medium flavor intensity of black currant, plum, blackberry and some vegetal background toward the finish. Good quality with good balance and relatively good concentration. Ready to drink now. 84 points. A good everyday drinking wine that is a bit overpriced.
I shall keep looking…
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.