French Wine = Cars

Explaining the French term cru [or “growth”] to someone is like trying to explain cars.

  • Most everyday, inexpensive French wines from regions like Bordeaux or Burgundy do not carry the cru moniker, and in some cases keep it simple by stating what kind of grapes they are made of.  Think of these wines as the equivalent of a:
    • Toyota Camry
    • Honda Accord
    • Nissan Altima
    • Volkswagen Passat

These are your everyday, workhorse wines/cars that do what they are supposed to do.

  • To quote Wikipedia, “cru is often used to indicate a specifically named and legally defined vineyard or ensemble of vineyards and the vines ‘which grow on [such] a reputed terroir; by extension of good quality’…they designate levels of presumed quality that are variously defined in different wine regions.”  Wines that carry the cru moniker usually do not come cheap, so think of these as a:
    • Lexus ES
    • Acura TL
    • Infiniti G
    • Audi A4

These wines/cars represent a step-up from the usual and an increase in substance and style.

  • Within the cru classification system exist sub-categories that rank wine, wineries, and vineyards.  It is at the top where all the fun is at, whether it is the Premier cru of Bordeaux or the Grand cru of Burgundy, Think of this particular sub-category, the crème de la crème, as a:
    • Lexus LFA
    • Acura NSX
    • Nissan GT-R
    • Audi R8

You pay for what you are getting at this level.

Having said all that, do not be easily led astray by a label.  Just because it is not Premier cru Chateau Latour does not mean it is going to stink; a good ~$20 Cabernet-Merlot blend from the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux is very easy to find.  Likewise, just because it is a Lexus LFA does not mean it is going to always get you from Point A to Point B faster, especially if you plan on doing a lot of city driving.

And this is only French wine ;-).

Some Quick Wine Notes

1. I learned something from my Dad over dinner tonight: compared to Italian wines, California wines generally tend to be fruitier, less tight/focused, and less intense.

In other words, he would be killin’ it right now if he were in Tuscany and/or Russian River Valley.

2. On that note, if you are looking for a decent, medium-bodied red wine for under $20.00, Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.columbiacrest.com/wines/release/176/) is something to consider.  A Washington State wine, it has a nice floral nose, earthy flavors, and a surprisingly nice cocoa finish to it, something that becomes more evident as it opens up.  It may be a bit too fruity to some of you looking for a more serious Cabernet, but it still is worth a try, especially if you are on a budget and/or new to wine.