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Beaujolais Nouveau 2003 wines are reviewed on a separate page.
We tried some of the beaujolais nouveau 2004, but overall, they didn't impress. 2005 has reportedly been an excellent year, and the few Beaujolais Nouveau we were able to get in the states (roughly half a dozen) seemed to confirm what we had heard. Since they will still be good for a few months, you should go out and try some of the 2005 if you haven't!

Because we were used to drinking red wines from Italy, it was suggested we start with the Southern French wines of the Cotes du Rhone. This was a great bet, and we had lots of fun exploring the region's varieties and vineyards. Once we felt quite comfortable with those, we meandered north to bordeaux, which has a great deal to offer, but takes a little while to get comfortable with. We've toyed with some of the other regions, but not to the degree we have tasted the Southwest.

I finally managed to track down a

wine region map of France and a map of the wines of the Rhone Valley

Also interesting is an infographic taken from '20 minutes' which shows the current and projected top five wine consuming countries. The United States is set to knock France from the top spot (although per capita consumption will obviously be different.

First off, note that this page started when I was still quite new to the game. As such, some of the early reviews might be a bit... questionable.

Le Grand Pigoudet - Coteaux D'Aix en Provence (white) - 2001 - Drink this wine!. We found this wine at our first foire aux vins in Paris. We thought at first all Coteaux D'Aix en Provence would be this amazing, but we were wrong. This is without a doubt the nicest white wine I have had. In the autumn of 2004 we went to another foire of independent vignerons, and tried half a dozen Coteaux D'Aix en Provence without finding anything remotely this nice. This wine is like, but better than, anything coming out of the Pessac-Léognan region.

Domaine les Toulons - Coteaux D'Aix en Provence (white) - 2001 (?) - This is another foire aux vins purchase, in fall of 2004. The year is a question mark because neither the bottle, nor the case tell us the year, so I am guessing based on a cryptic code on the cork cover. It's bizarre, because everything else is on the bottle (the vintner, Denis ALIBERT, the address 83560 Rians, and the telephone 04 94 80 37 88). But the year of the wine is not. Madness. Regardless, although not quite as amazing as The Grand Pigoudet, this is still a very good wine. Aged in oak, it's a very round, buttery wine, not dry but not cloying. Very recommended. It's worth noting that both of these wines (and most of the others we buy) are from independant vignerons.

Domaine la Roquette - Chateauneuf du pape - 2001 - drank summer 2005 - We usually think young Chateauneufs are a little too chewy for us, but the wine guy assured us this was ready. He was absolutely correct. This wine was good on a number of levels, not least of which that it made us respect the raspberry again. After bourgogne, we had pretty much reached the conclusion that the berry wasn't for us. But this wine, with raspberry and a chocolate finish, made us think about it again. Sadly, this wine will not visit your table cheaply, but it is well worth the money (€26).

Fat Bastard - Shiraz - 2003 - We drank this in autumn, 2005. We had hoped for much better. The wine is simple, and a touch watery. Not at all impressive.

Vignerons de Beaumes de Venise - Cotes du Rhone Villages - 2003 - we visited these folks in 2003, and had an excellent tour given by one of the operators of the co-op, followed by the discovery of one of the best dessert wines in the world (more on that later). Before returning to the states, we had them ship us several cases, including this 2003, which has been raised in oak barrels. It's a lovely, complex wine, with lots of tannins. Our first bottle, drank in the autumn of 2005, wasn't ready, and needed some serious decanter time.

Vignerons de Beaumes de Venise - Muscat de Beaumes de Venise - 2003 - Carte Or - As mentioned above, this is our favourite dessert wine in the universe - it strikes just the right balance of sweetness, and has the most amazing nose. Most important, it isn't a cloying wine - very crisp and fresh. We bought several cases to bring back. This runs around $10-$12 in France.

Domaine du Grand Prieur - Cotes du Rhone - 2001 - This one ran us about $7 / bottle, and was pretty tasty. A bit fuller than the Italian wines we're used to, and definitely more alchoholic

Cellier des Dauphins - Cotes du Rhone - 2002 - We had this fall of 2003, and it was a very tasty wine. Nice and spicy, with excellent flavor. We also had the rose (same year, same winemakers) which was quite nice - not at all what you expect from a rose this one was spicy like the red. It is my understanding the Cellier des Dauphins is the largest winemaker in France, and as such the wine is quite uniform, and generally drinkable, if also generally unxceptional. But it is most certainly affordable.

Montalcour - Cotes du Rhone - 2002 - We had this fall of 2003, and it was a very tasty wine. Nothing particularly special.

Domaine des Correges - Cotes du Rhone - 2002 - We had this fall of 2003. I bought this wine because it won awards in France, and it was quite good. As with most Cotes du Rhone, spicy and somewhat sharp.

Louis Bernard - Cotes du Rhone - 2002 - We had this fall of 2003. Good wine. Not as nice as the bottle, perhaps, but a solid Cotes du Rhone.

Domaine de Panisse - Chateauneuf du Pape - 1999 - The first wine to make my 'Oh my God! Drink this!' list. Fruity (in a way that none of the wines I'd drank before had prepared me for) and full. Simply amazing. Ours was $15 / bottle. Amusingly, a few days later we bought a 1996 Domaine de Panisse Chateauneuf du Pape, and all the fruits were gone. It was still good, but I thought it had lost its magic.
Even after several years, and lots of wine, I still think this was a very fine Chateauneuf. We've tried several others, most of them too young, it must be noted, but nevertheless '99 was a special year. I think 2003 might be as well (we'll see).
la Scène - Chateauneuf du Pape - 1999 - We drank this early in 2004, and although it didn't have all the fruit one might hope for (I actually expected this to some degree, since it was a '99), it did have something I didn't expect - chocolate. The unmistakeable flavour of chocolate. We haven't had a wine before that was so clearly chocolate influenced, so I would recommend finding a bottle of this ASAP.
Chateau Cabrieres - Chateauneuf du Pape - 2001 - We had this fall 2003, with spicy food, and I was afraid we had spent too much. It was an excellent wine, but the fruit simply didn't seem to be there. Then we had it with cheese and all the fruit I had been hoping for came out to say hello. Excellent, fruity and full!
Plan Pegau - Selectionne par Laurence Feraud - Lot: 2001 - according to our friends at Cheese Cheese Cheese, this is a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape, which didn't go through all the hoops to be labelled such. It certainly has the complicated flavor of a chateauneuf, but for a 2001 (the lot number -is- the vintage in this case) it wasn't as fruity as I'd expected. Still, at $15 / bottle one cannot complain too much.
Chateau Maucoil - Chateauneuf du Pape - 2003 - Chewy, with lots and lots of fruit. Lots of tannins, and that surreal honey flavour that all of the 2003 wines (including the reds) are showing right now (being early 2005). Thankfully this one didn't have so much honey that you wanted to run and hide, so it might age better than some of the others. On the other hand, maybe it won't. 2003 is too bizarre for me to even hazard a guess.
Domaine les Grands Bois - Cotes du Rhone villages - Cairanne - 2003 - Everything I've said about how unimpressive 2003 is can be ignored for this wine. We bought it at the fall 2004 salon du vin in Paris, and it's been very tasty thus far. It's one of the first wines I've had with a strong cherry (not black cherry, just cherry) flavours. Not a whole lot of tannins, compared to some, but still a good, solid base. If you have been thinking that 2003 was a wash, you should try this wine.

Chateau Haut-Piquat - Lussac Saint-Emilion - 1997 - This was a wine we bought down in Bordeaux, while visiting a friend. It was quite reasonably priced for being as old as it was, and at the time we found it fairly tasty as I recall. Drinking it again, I noted two things - one, that the cork was well on its way to going very bad, although it had not reached the wine, and two, that the wine was thin and watery. It was a fine enough wine to drink, but the people who gave it a gold medal in 1999 must have had a different experience than we had, or else they guessed wrong about how it would age.

Unknown - Gaillac - 2001 - We had this fall of 2003. A nice full red, not as spicy as the Cote du Rhone and not as complex as the Chateauneuf. Good fruits. An excellent mid-priced bottle of wine. I can't read the vintner off the photo, and sadly I've forgotten, but it has the look of one of those mass market labels.
Domaine de la Batardiere - Muscadet - Sevre et Maine - 2001 (drank autumn 2003) - This wine wins my vote hands down for the vineyard name, but the wine itself didn't grab me so much. It's a dry wine, but it was a little pungent, a little sharp. Probably worth trying yourself, because I might just dislike Mucadet in general.


Fontella - Sangiovese - Puglia - couldn't find a year on the bottle, but probably 2000-ish. This wine had struck out with me before we drank any, because of the plastic cork (see my

writings for more info). However, it was an interesting wine, in that we both described it as 'mellow'. It was tasty enough, without having that sharp taste that usually hits your mouth right as you first take a sip. Overall cheap and drinkable.

Villa Cieri - ganaiolo - Sangiovese terre di chieti - 2000 - this one was marked down, and I'm afraid there was a reason - sharp. It was a drinkable sangiovese, but it hits your mouth like a freight train. Amusingly, after sitting a couple of days it softened up considerably. So maybe it just needed to breathe.

Gabbiano - Chianti - 2001 - drinkable, inexpensive. I like chianti, as rule. This one's nothing special.

Sortesele - Pinot Grigio - 2002 - We had this in the fall, 2003, and although it was crisp and refreshing, as one expects a Pinot Grigio to be, it wasn't as amazing as some I've had. Still an excellent wine, just not as absolutely crisp as I like my Pinot Grigio to be.

Bolla - Bardolino - 2002 - We had this in autumn, 2005. Prototypical Italian wine, a touch on the sweet side, a touch sharp. Nothing special.


I'm sure Germany has some good wines, but everything I've ran across is so darned sweet. If you like sweet wines, I mean really sweet, grab a Gewurztraminer or a Liebfraumilch.

South Africa
Langeberg - Sauvignon Blanc - 2003 - We got this because it was the first 2003 I saw (this was in the Fall of 2003). Of course, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere so the wines come out at a different time. I'd love to say there was something to recommend this wine, but nothing leaps to mind.

I used to be a big fan of Australian wines, but living in France changed my palate (I might argue 'taught me about wine') and now I generally find them too simple. I therefore tend to appreciate the whites more than the reds.

The Little Penguin - Chardonnay - 2004 - massive quantities of vanilla! Wacky, wacky stuff! Probably better with a dessert (despite being dry-ish) because of the bouquet and flavour. From the

LP website:
"BEST VALUE" the Little Penguin Chardonnay 2004: 86 POINTS "Bright, with a generous portion of pineapple and grapefruit flavors and hints of spice, lingering nicely. Drink now." Wine Spectator April 2005
On revisiting the wine after it had been open a while, I found it fruitier. Worth a try.

United States
Now that we're living in the US, it seems appropriate to try to find some wines worth drinking. By and large France has made us serious wine snobs, and the fact that so many American wines are catering to the wine spectator crowd doesn't help. I think if we have one more wine that's 50 percent wood chips heads will roll. But we're going to make an honest attempt.

Worth noting, right now only two of these wines is more than 10 US dollars per bottle. If I thought I'd get a better wine, I'd pay more. As yet, I've not seen evidence that price is related.

Dry Creek - 2003 Heritage Zinfandel - This was one of the bottles recommended to us when we were going through on a big American wine purchase. It has, without a doubt, that 'American taste' that we have now come to clearly recognize. 'Jammy' is, I believe, the term most often used for it. That said, a very drinkable wine. Sasha thought the price, at around 16 dollars, was fine. I thought it a bit much. I'm trying to keep an open mind on the 'American taste', because it is without a doubt drinkable. But it still seems to me to lack the soul of a good solid French wine.

HRM Rex Goliath - Originally, this was going to be about the 2002 Merlot, which I am informed (by their website) is in fact 88% Merlot and 12% Malbec. But when I was getting the photo of the bottle, I realized the first wine we had drank had in fact been a Shiraz.

This, I think, is indicative, but you should make up your own mind. Their wines are, to me, a perfect example of what I expect an American wine to be. Full, fruity, jammy, however you want to describe it, this wine is an excellent example. They appear to have won a number of awards with the merlot, so I am not alone in my judgement of their wine.

Mirassou - 2002 Merlot - Not much to say - I don't think this wine succeeded in what it was trying to do. Lacks the fullness of the Rex Goliath, lacks the tannins to make it more interesting.

Stone Cellars - 2002 Merlot - Better than the Mirassou, not as nice as the Rex Goliath, in short. A little sharp on the palatte, and not as full as I think they wanted.

Hedges Cellars - 2003 Cabernet Merlot Syrah - We went to our local wine store and asked the nice young man if he could point out some tasty wines that were more 'european' in their winemaking style. This was one he recommended, and I heartily approve. It's a wine from Washington state, and is most certainly not like the big American wines we had been drinking. At one point Sasha compared it to a Graves, which from us is not faint praise. We didn't decant the first night, and I think we should have because this wine developed over the course of the next couple of days. Certainly more interesting that some other stuff we have drank, although it might be better to let it develop a bit before drinking.


North America
Nothing Yet

South America
Nothing Yet

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