Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Delicious and Expressive of Place...for $10

Who says there's nothing good out there for about $10? There are good wines at that price point but they're harder to find than I can ever remember. What do I mean by "good?" I don't mean just that they taste good and are well balanced wines, although they do and they are. I mean also that they show something of the place where they are from.

I drank two very good wines recently that cost me all of $10.80 apiece. Wines that I would recommend to anyone, wines that I would happily drink anytime because they are delicious and expressive of place. It doesn't hurt that both wines match beautifully with a wide array of food.

2007 Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, $10.80 (mixed case discount price), Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. After reading David Lillie's great Muscadet piece in the Art of Eating I had to drink some Muscadet. We cooked some meaty and sweet triggerfish with a mix of chopped late summer vegetables cooked simply in butter. Edward Schneider of the NYTimes Diner's Journal blog cooked with triggerfish this summer, by the way, from the same market where I bought mine. He didn't love it, but I think my preparation is better than the one he used (come on over and try it if you don't believe me, Ed).

I like slipping the fish through flour that has been seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, and then frying over high heat in butter. Triggerfish eat shellfish and their flesh is sweet. The flash frying in butter accents the sweetness of the fish. It might sound silly to quibble over olive oil or butter, but these things are important when you are working with fresh ingredients and cooking simply. Anyway...the Muscadet was a great match for the fish, drinking so much better than it was a year ago. It is more open now, well balanced and stony, good substance on the mid palate, and the finish fragrant with citrus and the smallest hint of fennel. This is absolutely lovely wine for the same low price as most crappy Malbec.

2009 Marcel Lapierre Vin de Pays de Gaules Raisins Gaulois, $10.80 (mixed-case discount price), imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. This is Marcel Lapierre's simple country wine, and it is utterly delicious. It is also unmistakably Gamay from Beaujolais - you could identify this blindfolded simply by smelling it. Actually, I'm not sure exactly where the grapes were grown, but you can read David McDuff's post for more information. This is 2009, a great vintage in Beaujolais, and this wine offers particularly great quality this year. It likes a little swirl after opening - it is a screwcap closure and a little reductive at first. But it blossoms quickly and shows lovely ripe and spicy fruit and that enticing sweetly snappy acidity that invites - no, requires further drinking. Regional Beaujolais from good producers used to cost about $14 a few years ago. Now it's closer to $18. This Lapierre wine is of similar quality and costs less (in NYC, sorry Philly). If you see this wine you should buy it.


David McDuff said...

Hey Neil,

Thanks for the link. While I haven't had a chance to sit down with a bottle (or two) of the '09 in the comfort of home, I did get to drink a bunch of it at a party a couple of months ago and my experiences, right down to the slight reduction, mirror yours. Definitely tasty stuff. And $12 less 10% definitely beats the $15 tariff I paid for the '08 -- even if that was in Baltimore, not Philly.

It's interesting, though not at all surprising, to see that Lapierre has switched from Vin de Pays status (as in '08) to the more flexible Vin de France designation in '09. As a side note, it's also curious to see that he's used a code, albeit an obvious one, to express the vintage, as the VdF rules, unlike the Vin de Table rules before them, do allow vintage dating. Always keeping us on our toes....



Ally said...

Both of these sound great. I'm going to check them out.

Douglas said...

I couldn't agree with you more. The Raisins gaulois is an unbelievably sexy, seductive wine, with an astonishing price tag. For younger, outgoing, adventurous wine lovers, I recommend this: A party with a caveman/cavewoman dress theme and a case or two of Raisin gaulois. Just imagine.

Karin said...

I always love it when you can find a really great tasting wine that is affordably priced. Thank you for your recommendation... I'll have to check it out!

If you are looking for reasonably priced wine glasses, you should check out Splendids :-)