A Wine Lover’s Weekly Guide To $10 Wines – A French Grenache Syrah Blend

As in the previous review, I am looking at a blend even though I tend to prefer single grape variety wines. Today’s hopefully bargain wine comes from a well-known (French) Beaujolais producer, but as a blend it’s not a Beaujolais. This wine was vinified from Grenache and Syrah red grapes. The first variety usually leads to pedestrian wines and the second occasionally reaches for the sky, sometimes fairly close to this producer’s vineyards. But after several years of this column I no longer hope for a spectacular $10 wine. Should I ever get so lucky, you’ll be the first to know. Mommessin owns several vineyards in the Beaujolais and Bordeaux regions of south eastern, or south central France. The companion wine is a very-highly rated Beaujolais at only twice the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Mommessin Grenache Syrah Vin de France 2009 12.5 % alcohol about $10.

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note: Deep ruby color; ripe red and black berry aromas with a touch of pepper; dry medium body; ripe berry and sweet cherry flavors, soft acidity in medium length finish. Serving Suggestion: Serve with roasted duck.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was sweet, tasting of dark berries. It was long and balanced. I started with Japanese rice crackers that muted the libation and reduced its acidity. When paired with honey-garlic barbecued chicken wings its acidity was fairly sour. A somewhat dry barbecued chicken breast with a paprika-dusted skin mellowed the acidity, which remained excessive. In the face of the chicken’s moister leg, the blend was now dark and its objectionable acidity was tamed. With one of my old favorites, potatoes roasted in chicken fat, this wine came out dark and had good balance but salt reared its ugly head. The veggies were green beans in tomato sauce, and just like a yoyo the drink’s sour acidity came back.

The following meal centered on sesame seed covered puff pastry that were stuffed with spiced ground beef. The French drink was round and slightly sweet. I tasted oak. When I added a generous amount of Chinese Chili hot sauce, the wine melded nicely with the spicy sauce. The lightly spicy Moroccan Matbucha salad/salsa containing tomatoes, onions, sweet red and green peppers, and tomato paste rendered the liquid flat and insufficiently acidic.

My final meal was a Middle Eastern specialty – Kube, minced beef in ground bulgar jackets that swum in a lightly acidic broth brimming with Swiss Chard. The wine was plummy and presented a nice balance between acidity and fruit. But it didn’t mesh with the Chinese Chili hot sauce. A cucumber and tomato salad containing broccoli stems and red onion initially rendered the liquid somewhat harsh. Then it mellowed, but not all that much.

When paired with marbled Cheddar cheese this wine offered light acidity and sour plums. A brushetta-covered goat’s milk cheese rendered this liquid almost tasteless.

Final verdict. While some of the pairings were good or better I have no plans to buy this wine again. I don’t really care for Mommessin’s Beaujolais Nouveau, but in all fairness I don’t like anyone’s Beaujolais Nouveau.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .

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