There are reviews and then there's what Lettie Teague does at the Wall Street Journal. Her column today is why I enjoy her writing more than that of most "consumer" wine reviewers. The reason is simple. Lettie is willing to go off the beaten track more and more, and helps draw attention to wines from the roads less traveled.
One example stood out. The short, but direct comments about Savage Grace's Cabernet Franc. It's a wine I own, and have bought since the 2015 vintage, maybe 2014, back when I met Michael Savage in his tiny Woodinville, WA winery in the warehouse district. Back then I was really enthralled by his racy, very Austrian tasting Gruner and Riesling, but when I tasted his very Loire tasting Cabernet Franc that's when I knew Savage was onto something.
Teague didn't stop there though. Her comments about Rose really hit home. Drink Rose wines from somewhere other than just Provence. With just about everyone jumping onto the Rose bandwagon these days, i.e. Jon Bon Jovi, and making them not just in Provence, there's more than one reason to explore where real Rose comes from. For many years I've held a Rose Day on Memorial Day, At those events I've sourced the pink treat from the Loire, Roussillion, Languedoc, Bandol, Tavel, the Rhone Valley, Austria, New Zealand, Washington State, Santa Barbara, and yes. Provence.
The best wines were not always from Provence, so even while I'll admit that year after year the Corail by Chateau de Roquefort usually stands out, that's more because it's not the light patio wine like so many wines from the Cotes de Provence tend to be, as it's much more like the Tavel's by Prieure de Montezargues, Domaine de la Mordoree and Trinquevedel that all show how complex, in their bone dry, yet fruit rich style, they can be. Granted, the Roquefort wines are in a class by themselves, as they rival the wines by Chateau Pradeaux in Bandol (and their exceptional value Coteaux d'Aix en Provence), Château Vignelaure that is also from Aix en Provence and my favorite, the Chateau Vannieres from Bandol. These all provide the deeper pink colored thrill that Lettie is describing. These are real wines vs. the poolside pinks that tend to be more en vogue, and are the same type of wines that my friends Doug Margerum at Margerum Wine Company and Mikael Sigouin of Kaena make in Santa Barbara, and which both Chene Bleu and Domaine du Mourchon produce in the top end of the southern Rhone Valley. These are wines for food that can be served at the start of a meal, or be the wines with the meal.
Wines like these are why going off the beaten track is often the better bet, than playing it safe and buying wines that are "good" but clearly not better.