First in a series of posts regarding good or great wines to be found in restaurants for $30 or less.
I have mentioned several times in this blog the challenge of finding good wines which can be sold at less than $30 per bottle in a restaurant. This requires that the restaurant owner be able to find a good bottle of wine, which suits the menu and is available at less than $12 per bottle from the wine rep. It is harder than it sounds.
This is the first of several posts which I am planning which discuss these sort of high-value, economy wines which I selected and placed on the wine list for Restaurant 213. The first is my all time favorite.
Everyone likes the idea of French wines but almost no one likes the idea of paying $120 for a bottle of 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Macharelles, Bernard Morey. So, I went looking for a low-priced French chardonnay which came from a wine-growing region far less glamorous than Chassagne-Montrachet and at a significantly lower price. Enter 2007 Les Frères Couillaud, Chardonnay, Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France Domaine de Bernier.
Make no mistake: Vin de Pays du Jardin is no where as glamorous a grape-growing region as is Cassagne-Montrachet. Think California Central Valley versus California Napa Valley. It is that sort of difference. Think industrial versus boutique.
None the less, Domaine de Bernier has been on our wine list since 2004 providing an attractive low-priced alternative to those who desire a French pedigree with their wine and who don't want to break the bank in the process.
My impressions: Crisp apple and pear on the nose with moderate acidity. A direct and easy drinking wine characteristically dry as you'd expect from a Chardonnay with a moderate finish. We are able to buy this wine from our rep in single case lots of $6.33 per bottle (spring 2009) making it a great value for us as well as our customers.
This wine has been imported in not huge amounts: 2007 - 2000 cases, 2006 - 1000 cases, 2005 - 3000 cases and 2004 - 3000 cases. So, are you going to be able to fine this wine? I doubt it. But, the lesson is that France produces some wonderful, low-priced wines from decidedly minor-league grape growing appellations and are worth a try.