Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Val de la Pierre" Chateauneuf du Pape Francois Mercier 2009

You can get this for 10$ at Trader Joes; naturally, I was inclined to purchase it on the off chance that it was good. It is, after all, Chateauneuf-du-Pape at prices last seen before I began to drink wine. According to my older and wiser neighbor, "those were the days." You could get Vieux Telegraphe for 25$ a bottle, or something like that; something more pedestrian was inevitably cheaper. This was also before the days of the super luxury cuvee, all tarted up with oak, slutty, and giving a come hither gesture to our munificent friend and benefactor Bob. (I kid, I kid!) This was when CdP was a reliably good source of good wines--and not just some region for neophyte wine drinkers with lots of money to focus on that crass and ultimately status conscious system that we call points.

The CdP that Trader Joes carried last year for 20$ and ultimately discounted to 9.99$? A miserable failure, if there's ever been one in Trader Joes wine program. This wine is better, but not by much. I've had two bottles of it, because the first bottle was consumed a little bit to hastily and carelessly. What I've noticed is that there must be some bottle variation. The first bottle I had mimicked the plush, structureless mess of wine that was the CdP that TJ's carried last year. (Near as I can tell, these are different wines?) The second bottle featured persistent tannins. Not being an expert on CdP by any means, I'm not sure if this is because the wine is so young or not. This wine is certainly an early release--it's only been around a year since the grapes were harvested--not what you normally see with CdP as far as I'm aware. Anyways, this wine drinks like a not very interesting Cotes du Rhone. Muted on the nose, but with some indistinct black fruit (blueberry, plum, and cherry), dried strawberry, and some mint. Persistent and drying tannins in one bottle; Coke-ish Kool-Aid with flabby, chocolate tones in the other bottle. Almost non-existent finish. If you happen to get one of the more tannic wines will it improve with some time in bottle? Perhaps. Based on my experience, it's only a 50/50 chance you're going to get one of those more structured bottles. Is it worth the risk? Probably not. You'd be better off just going and buying a reliably good CdP in the 30$ range. Or, you could buy three interesting Cotes du Rhone (lots of vintages available--05, 06, 07, or if you're like me and like more acid, 08; 09 should be coming out soon) for around the same price, or a couple bottles of one of the other appellations that are basically Villages Cotes du Rhone like Vacqueyras. If you want to get something at Trader Joes, you might as well go and get the Perrin Cotes du Rhone for $6.99. Not only is it cheaper, but it's a better wine. The problem with the appellation system is that you only have to own land in the appellation or buy grapes from the appellation and follow the rules. It doesn't mean that the wine will be good. Better than last years cluster-fuck, but still not all that great. D+/C-

8 comments:

Cabfrancophile said...

Nice . . . . tell us how you real feel! Kind of figured this might happen, though. $9.99 CdP, the odds are not in your favor.

Jeff said...

I call them like I see them. Haha. It's funny, because when I saw the 10$ Sancerre, I instinctively knew that it was probably better than the 10$ CdP....seems to be defying gravity too much. Why don't they just ratchet up the price level some I wonder? Get something quality?

Roberto said...

I bought this one today. I wish I read your review before purchasing this one. But it is only 10 bucks. What the hell...

I just disagree about the generic Perrin. I don't think there is a more uninteresting wine in the world.

TJ used to sell an organic Syrah from Central Coast for 5 bucks or so. That was a wonderful wine! This TJ Syrah they sell nowadays is pretty bad.

Marciella said...

I completely disagree. I love this wine, and only wish I knew where to find it for only $10.00 again, as T.J's are completely sold out now.

Marciella said...

Are we talking about the same wine? 2009 Red Rhone Wine "Val De La Pierre" Chateauneuf-du-Pape? If anyone knows where to find it for under $15.00 please let me know!

Jeff said...

Yeah, we're talking about the same wine. I have to say, I disagree with you on many levels. I would posit that the Vidal-Fleury, Ogier (Caves des Papes) and Perrin Cotes du Rhone are not only better values, but better wines. Two of those are $7, and one is $5. But then again, lots of people like Two Buck Chuck and don't seem to think it's that bad. I think the point is that everyone has their own palate. If you like something run with it. I just happen to strongly disagree with you.

Marciella said...

I've never tried the wines you mentioned, but I will try them and hopefully I'll like them better as well. I agree that it's just a matter of taste, but maybe it's also possible that this Chateauneuf du Pape varies between bottles. I happen to like wines with soft tannins and not too much bite. Personally, I don't like 2-buck chuck.

Jeff said...

Yeah, there is definitely some variation in that wine. Had two different bottles of it and they were both pretty different.

FYI, I have way different taste than you. I tend to like more acidic wines just in general as opposed to really soft and velvetly tannins. Try those Cotes du Rhones--they're good values and I think they'll probably fall in line with what you like.