02 January 2009

2006 Barton & Guestier Bistro Wine Pinot Noir

There are a handful of wines that have come out of France in the past few years that have unpretentious names, cheerful all-English labels, and require no knowledge of obscure AOCs. Things like Fat Bastard, Red Bicyclette, and a newer entry on local shelves, the 2006 Barton & Guestier Bistro Wine Pinot Noir. Languedoc-Roussillon, $8. I've had bad luck with bargain Pinot, but I heard good things about this and decided to give it a shot. It's from the South of France, meaning it's nowhere near as smooth and refined as those Pinots from up in Burgundy. It had an overall flavor of strawberry jam with a firm acidity and a slight sparkling feel on the tongue. Sounds odd but it worked out fairly well, and served as a good uncomplicated lunch wine.

Is it a sacrilege to take a casual, fun approach to French wine? I don't think so. Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802) certainly didn't take French painting too seriously, as can be seen from his hilarious self portraits.

Hell, even ze Germans are getting into the act with wines like Eins, Zwei, Dry. As I've said before, I took German in high school and can carry on a basic conversation auf Deutsch, but even I'm occasionally intimidated by a novel's worth of Fraktur text that boils down to "Semi-dry Riesling from 2007".

Want to try some other affordable and fun French wines? Look beyond Bordeaux and Burgundy and try some from Loire, Provence, and Alsace. Names and availability are going to vary wildly around the US, so ask your friendly neighborhood wine shop employee for help. When that hard-to-pronounce French label looks scary, just picture Ducreux's sly grin.

Public domain photo of painting courtesy of Wikipedia.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

We got a late start on our vacay, cut out a chunk of old Rte 66, drove way to fast and way to far in one day. Had to, we were meeting some friends in Phoenix at a resort the next morning. We were all grumpy and hungry and opted for a nice but late dinner at the hotel. We ordered the Bistro Pinot, sight unseen and never having heard of it before.

It is rare for Mrs TWC to ask for a second glass....

Life makes a U-Turn. :-)

Benito said...


Thanks for the sighting "in the wild". Hopefully it wasn't too expensive--hotels seem to be second only to airplanes in truly outrageous markups for the cheapest possible wines.

Samantha Dugan said...

Gotta tell ya, I tasted the B&G Bistro line early last year and found them to be pretty tasty! Like you said, not refined but sometimes "refinement" just makes things too complicated...there are times when "tasty" is all you want!

I did not end up bringing them into the shop but that was only because a couple of the chain stores near us were already running with them, (getting deeper discounts because of their buying power) but I would have.

No doubt on the hotel wine prices, I once paid $70 for a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, nearly fainted when I got the bill!

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Hopefully it wasn't too expensive

Not too bad as I recall. Of course, way more than it should be marked up, but I've seen worse.

Everything about that particular meal was perfect. Couldn't have come at a better time, neither. ;-)

TWC said...

I wasn't sure, but I did a quick and dirty review last summer. Left out all the interesting drama, however. Click my name.......

Ramblin' Wino said...

I didn't know people pointed there finger and said 'h-e-y' back then. What a great pic!

Simple wines like the B&G Pinot are fun and perfect for lunch. People who are afraid of simplicity just take wine too seriously.

Cigar Inspector said...

If you are looking for the best price/quality ratios in France, I'd suggest Corbières (it's in the South of France). They are simply delicious. In Bordeaux, there is a good AOC called Cotes de Castillon which is cheaper than famous St-Emilion or Pomerol yet often provides a similar flavor profile.