Nov 082011

This weekend I stopped by Calvert Woodley, a landmark DC establishment for wine. I wanted to pick up some French wine, and I wanted to attend a tasting of some wines imported by Robert “Bobby” Kacher.

Kacher is a well known importer and a resident of DC. He was gracious as he multitasked conversations and poured wine in the very cramped Calvert Woodley store. He usually spends half the year in France and his wines are of all kinds of classifications, grapes and price categories. His enthusiasm was infectious and inclusive, not a lecture or a sales pitch.

Based on what he was pouring Saturday Kacher likes to offer good wine from off the beaten path areas that deliver good value. That fits well with the wines I like to review here, and I look forward to purchasing more of his imports.

I took home three bottles from the tasting. The first was a departure for me, though Sauvignon Blanc is the grape Gabriele and I go to when we drink white. It was a Menetou-Salon 2010 from Alain Assadet. Menetou-Salon is in the Loire Valley, very close to the much better known towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. It’s nose is rich, ripe fruit while still being light bodied and easy to drink. I tasted distinct minerals on the finish. Delicious and a great value at $17.

Back to the reds — I purchased a very nice Chateau Guiot Costières de Nîmes Alex 2009, named after Bobby’s son. (Link takes you to the Businessweek review of the 2008 vintage.) From the very southernmost part of the Rhone, the wine is a somewhat unusual Cabernet/Syrah blend. Deep color in the glass, this wine had dark fruit balanced with just the right amount of earth. It’s powerful yet not over the top or heavy on the palate in any way. It was $15 discounted at the tasting, might be a little more elsewhere.

The last bottle I brought home was a pretty rare find, the good $20 red Burgundy, aka French Pinot Noir. It was the Chauvenet-Chopin Bourgogne 2009, from near the northern Burgundy town of Nuits St. Georges and it was delicious. It was light and easy drinking, with a floral violet aroma. There is a delicate feel to this wine, without being weak or thin. It’s a great value for $20.

It can be hard to find good value with French wines without some background knowledge, or a guide. Based on this testing, Kacher is a good one to trust.

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