Time for comfort wine

Let’s be frank, my friends. We are living through a difficult and troubling time. The coronavirus pandemic confronts us with a global challenge unlike anything that many of us have ever seen.

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It’s stressful to have to hunker down in self-isolation and social distancing, isn’t it? As the world watches and waits and each of us confronts the threat in our own way, most of us would love to sit down around a big table with a group of friends, dive into an appetizing meal together, and open a bunch of extra-special wines.

If we’re wise, though, we’ll put that gathering off, at least for a while; although there’s something to be said for joining a virtual group using a social app like Zoom or Google Hangouts or Facebook Live. Or, of course, bring your wine notes and comments over to our WineLovers Discussion Group, where we’d love to talk about wine with you.

Whether you’re locked down, self-isolating, or making quick trips out while practicing safe social distancing during this alarming situation, though, I have a suggestion for us as wine lovers: Why not go ahead and open something special? No, the world isn’t coming to an end – at least we sure hope it’s not.

But the stress and the fear and the loneliness that inevitably accompany social distancing make the idea of pulling the cork from a special bottle that you’ve been hoarding (or buying one online) seem like a really good plan.

Double down with a luxurious meal made at home or ordered via takeout or delivery, and you’ve lightened up at least one dark night.

We took the opportunity of wiping the dust off a generous gift from a while back, Famille Perrin 2015 “La Gille” Gigondas, and were rewarded with a luscious, raspberry scented Rhône red that’s drinking just right. I’m not sorry in the least, and I recommend that you do something similar.

You’ll find my tasting notes below. I hope you’ll post yours on our WineLovers Forum.

Peace. Be well.


Read about wine:
The (Renaissance) Art of Drinking

How to Drink - a classical guide to the art of imbibing

How to Drink – a classical guide to the art of imbibing

Is there an art to drinking alcohol? Can drinking ever be a virtue? The Renaissance humanist and neoclassical poet Vincent Obsopoeus (ca. 1498–1539) thought so. In the winelands of sixteenth-century Germany, he witnessed the birth of a poisonous new culture of bingeing, hazing, peer pressure, and competitive drinking. Alarmed, and inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s Art of Love, he wrote The Art of Drinking (De Arte Bibendi) (1536), a how-to manual for drinking with pleasure and discrimination. In How to Drink, Michael Fontaine offers the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus’s text, rendering his poetry into spirited, contemporary prose and uncorking a forgotten classic that will appeal to drinkers of all kinds and (legal) ages.

Arguing that moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits, Obsopoeus teaches us how to manage our drinking, how to win friends at social gatherings, and how to give a proper toast. But he also says that drinking to excess on occasion is okay—and he even tells us how to win drinking games, citing extensive personal experience.

Complete with the original Latin on facing pages, this sparkling work is as intoxicating today as when it was first published.

This title will be released on April 14, 2020, but you can pre-order it now for April 14 delivery as a hard-cover book or e-book for Kindle. Click to the book page on WineLoversPage.com for ordering information; purchases made from this page will return us a tiny commission.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Gigondas, one of the most highly regarded regions of the Southern Rhône, is a neighbor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and its red wines based on a Grenache-heavy blend with Syrah invite comparison to its fancier neighbor. This offering is from the respected Famille Perrin, whose flagship wine is Chateau de Beaucastel.

Famille Perrin 2015 “La Gille” Gigondas ($39)

Famille Perrin 2015 "La Gille" Gigondas

This delicious Gigondas is a clear garnet color, dark all the way to the edge. Full of ripe yet elegant raspberry and herbal aromas that evoke the scents of Provence, it is drinking very nicely right now. Firm acidity and soft tannins form a sturdy framework for luscious red-berry and fresh herbal flavors. It carries its 14.5 percent alcohol well, with no sign of heat or harshness in its long finish; nor does its discreet use of oak intrude on its flavor. An excellent wine, well suited when scary times prompt a wish for comfort. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala. (March 26, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: The producer suggests lamb, and I would advise roasting or grilling a lamb leg for the ideal carnivorous match. For a meatless pairing, try a traditional pasta Alfredo made with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

WHEN TO DRINK: Like its cousin Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas can age well for 15 years, provided you keep it stored on its side under good cellar conditions, at a constant cool temperature; 55F (13C) is optimal. It typically goes through a “shy” period, though, so this 2015 may show even better frin 2024 forward if you have the facilities for cellaring. Don’t worry, though, this bottle is fine now, as I would expect of the available 2016 and 2017 vintages.

This bottle was a gift of unknown price, but Wine-Searcher.com lists a $33 average U.S. retail for all vintages through 2017, and a $39 price tag on the 2015. It’s above my everyday price range, but well worth a price in the $30s for a special occasion.

Famille Perrin, the producer, offers this quick fact sheet on the 2015 “La Gille” Gigondas at this link.

Check prices and find vendors for Famille Perrin 2015 “La Gille” Gigondas on Wine-Searcher.com.

Read about Famille Perrin and browse a price and vendor list of all its wines at this link.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from Gigondas.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • La Vieille Ferme Vin de France Rosé ($8.99)
  • La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8.99)
  • Laroque Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)

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