On Wine



The French Glut

Can You Find Some Good French Wines at Good Prices?

by Fred McMillin

"All over the world there is an oversupply of wine."
—Richard Kannemacher, Alsace Wine Council

The Rest of the Story

The French in particular are hurting from declining sales of all but those hugely expensive "first growths." The press tells us that the French glut has resulted in their exporting many good wines to the USA where they are priced in the $10 to $30 range. My students are always looking for bargains (as are most of my readers!) so we matched six of these French wines with six California counterparts, such as vintage 2003 $20 Chardonnays from the two sources. The average price of each "squad" was $16. Who won the matches, and how good were the winners?

These Won Their Match

The Whites
Rank   Wine
3rd - CALIFORNIA, Chardonnay, Steele, $26, Carneros, 2001. Rated "good."
2nd - FRANCE, Chablis, J. Moreau, Boisset USA Imports, 2003, $20, Rated "good."
1st - FRANCE. Vouvray, Chateau de Montfort, Loire, Diageo Imports, 2004, $13! "Very good."
The Reds
Rank   Wine
3rd - CALIFORNIA, Merlot, Hahn, Monterey County, 2004, $14. Rated "good."
2nd - FRANCE, "A" d'Aussieres, Corbieres, Baron Rothschild, Pasternak Imports, 2003, $19. Rated "good."
1st - FRANCE, Grand Cru Beaujolais, Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly, 2004, $14. Rated "very good." Diageo Imports.


So France won four matches to two. If my wine merchant says he's just received a good $15 French wine, I'm going to try it.

Epilogue—Budget Busters

We also had six matches above the $30 cap, and turned up these four superb winners, all rated OVER NINETY. (At the higher prices, we were able to include some fine Napa and Sonoma bottles.) From Sonoma came the winning Gary Farrell Cresta Ridge Chardonnay. From Napa came two reds, The Ghost by 2820 Wine Co. And a Cabernet Franc by Jarvis. Burgundy scored with a historic Puligny-Montrachet, Domaine Gerard Chavy, Diageo Imports.


And A Final Wine Smile

Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and satirist: "Wine is the divine juice of September."


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


Copyright © 2006, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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This page created September 2006

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