Skip to content

Straight from the Vine -- Archives : France

  • Average rating:

    Intense color. Middleweight. Tar and plums, with cocoa and flowers around each corner. Hope current popularity doesn’t screw it up.

          Malbec is au currant. It is selling briskly during a recession when most wines are retrenching. It goes great with a big hunka’ red meat, and confers a gaucho image which understandably appeals to salarymen everywhere. Dr. Roger Corder, a British pharmacology researcher, even says Argentine Malbecs are particularly rich in the polyphenols which help protect against artery disease. Good news when you’re having a big hunka’ red meat. And really good Malbec can be had for less than $25. Sign me up!

         The success of Argentine Malbec on the U.S. market over the last four years is the envy of wine producing regions all over the world. Wines of Argentina says they sold 628,000 ca...

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on May 26 2010 2:24PM | 1 comments

  • Average rating:
    Bodega Bistro, Little Saigon, S.F.

    Vietnamese, but with meat. Very sophisticated food. Break out a quality French wine. Red Burgundy would be especially useful.

           Bodega (website, 415-921-1218, on Larkin – two doors uphill from Eddy, medium-priced with a couple temptations to splurge) may sound like a noteworthy California seafood place. That’s actually Hayes St Grill, about eight blocks away (owned by the very talented food writer, and Stanford alumna, Patricia Untermann). When I tell you BoDeGa is a Vietnamese restaurant, you may immediately think of plates filled with vegetables. That’s not entirely untrue, but it’s helpful to know the translation from the Vietnamese language: Bo = beef; De = lamb; Ga = chicken. Vegans can eat at Bodega, but they can’t get uppity.
           Let’s not mince words here. If you insist on ordering beer to drink w...

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Jan 11 2010 12:07PM | 0 comments

  • Average rating:
    2006 Marquis d Angerville 1st cru Volnay (Les Cailleret)

    From the Côte de Beaune. Modest color, but tightly refined nose w/ floral highlights. Beautiful oolong-like finish. Good value for around $80. Duck leg confit in a salad with pomegranate seeds.
          Both Volnay and Montelie can represent pretty good bargains in a Burgundy market which seems to be continuously hyperventilating. This wine from an under-hyped vintage, nevertheless comes from a very highly-regarded 1st Cru vineyard, and perhaps Volnay’s most illustrious producer. Like a tall, slim woman on a Parisian boulevard, this wine is both elegantly understated and eye-catching at the very same time. It makes you feel grown up, at a young adult price.

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Jan 8 2010 3:20PM | 0 comments

  • Average rating:
    1996 Ramonet 1st Chassagne-Montrachet (Caillerets)

           Older bottles of prestige White Burgundy can be risky; this one was sublime – a memory like a night on the rug in front of the fireplace with a lover you’ll never see again.

           About $225 in a retail store. Tasted in a class at Fort Mason comparing quality levels of Burgundy.
           Employing older White Burgundies in class is always an adventure. They are very expensive, and most American consumers have never tasted an aged Chardonnay. So even if the wine is in impeccable condition, which is by no means guaranteed, chances are good a large portion of the audience is going to find it ‘strange.’ And then individual personality kicks in. Some percentage of the audience is going to naturally define ‘strange’ as negative.
           Personally I’ve always been a big fan of Chardonnays picked a litt...

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 24 2009 1:13PM | 0 comments

  • Average rating:
    2006 Vougeraie Savigny-les-Beaune (Marconnets)

    Bio-dynamic since 2001. Wild yeast. Attractive feral nose with black cherry robe. Minced squab and plum sauce.

           At speaking engagements, British wine writer Clive Coates likes to joke about Burgundian vintners, “You know, they’re all peasants.” Clive is not being disparaging. He is colorfully illustrating the manner in which Burgundians are yoked to the land. Wealthy, well-educated, well-traveled vintners from Burgundy still spend months of every year in their vineyards pruning, pulling leaves, replanting, and harvesting. This close relationship to the soil may help explain why Burgundy has so many organic and bio-dynamic vineyards. Heaven knows, organic grape growing is not easy when rain is likely to fall at any time during the Summer.

           Domaine de la Vougeraie was organized by Jean-Charles Boisset and his sister Nathalie in the 1990’s to consolidat...

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 22 2009 12:08PM | 0 comments

  • Average rating:
    2002 F. Magnien Chambolle-Musigny (Charmes)

    Truly great red Burgundy is delightful, in no small part because it is so hard to find. About $95 in a retail store.

             I always find buying red Burgundies to be something of a dice roll. There is no argument that the wines can be brilliant on occasion, but they are also very expensive, and a big price point is no guarantee of quality.
             Frederic Magnien is rapidly becoming a favorite producer of mine. This wine comes from one of the two best premier cru vineyards in the commune (out of 24 total). It has a chalky substrate over a rocky base, so yields are typically very small ~ a little over one ton per acre, which is about one-third of what is allowed under appellation of origin regulations. This tiny production serves to accentuate the commune’s famously ...

    Find the remainder of this post in the Top Wine Reviews section

    More >>

    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Nov 22 2009 1:56PM | 0 comments