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Randall Murray: From the mailbag come rosés, Italy on top and French whites
Randall Murray
Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column publishes monthly.
Wine of the Month


The wine: Full-bodied, dry red table wine.

The grapes: 100 percent Carménère.

The source: Maule Valley of Chile.

The verdict: For decades, Chilean winemakers produced stellar Merlots. One problem: In many cases the grapes involved were not Merlot, but Carménère, a minor red Bordeaux grape that thrived in Chile. Genetic testing resolved the issue. Moving right along, today Chilean winemakers produce stellar Carménères — and this is one. Racy fruit flavors of red cherries abound in this nicely balanced red. Herb-spice aromatics tease the nose and soft tannins wrap up the whole package. Vina San Pedro is not a common brand, but the wines are available in Georgia. Lamb lovers, this is the match for a platter of sizzling chops lightly dusted with ground rosemary.

The price: About $19.

As I recover from hand surgery in early September, I’m cleaning out what can charitably be called a rat’s nest of notes, reminders, outdated coupons, messages to me from me that make no sense whatsoever, etc.

For the record, I have received protest notes from many rats claiming I have defamed them. It’s that bad.

In all that debris I uncovered some questions I’ve received over the past few months from readers, students in my Brenau University wine education classes and folks who just want to bug me.

When I get an inquiry I respond right away to the questioner and ask if I may use it in a future column. Note: If you have a question about wine that keeps you awake at night my email address is at the end of this column. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

Q: I always thought France produced the most wine in the world. But I read somewhere that Italy is No. 1. Which is it?

A: Historically France has been the world leader in wine production. But this year Italy has reported a whopping 15% increase in production. And if that holds through the end of the year, Italy will claim the No. 1 position. Italy is both a good and bad example of how to make wine. After World War II and into the early 1980s Italy staked its reputation largely on poorly made, badly regulated wines such as those straw-covered bottles of Chianti, and cheap semi-sweet wines such as Lambrusco. In the mid-80s, however, Italian wine producers and government regulators cleaned up their sloppy mess and forged ahead with newer, more restrictive growing and production regulations and — more important — enforced them. Over the past 25 years the result is substantially higher quality and more varieties of wine coming out of Europe’s boot. FYI the rankings of the remaining Top 5 are: 3. Spain, 4. United States, 5. Australia.

Q: I’ve read in your columns that you are a fan of dry rosé wines. And, now, so am I. I found a French rosé with the following label: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses. The bottle is lovely with a rosé. shape pressed into the bottom, it’s stoppered with a glass closure, not a cork, and the wine is great. I’m hooked. What can you tell me about it?

A: I share your enthusiasm for this lovely, well-balanced rosé. In fact, it was one of the wines I offered the students in my Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute class last spring. They loved it! Lightly pink, it’s made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cinsault grapes (all red) grown in southern France’s Pays d’Oc region. Crispness is maintained through fermenting and aging in stainless steel. I detected a faint hint of orange peel in the mouth. Although it’s slightly overpriced — about $18 — the graceful bottle can be repurposed. My bride stuffed one with tiny white Christmas lights and it was charming. This wine can be found just about anywhere wine is sold.

Q: Recently we were at a restaurant in Charlotte and our friend, who seems to know his wines, ordered a bottle of French white wine that I was told was very good quality. It is Pouilly Fuisse from the 2014 vintage and the producer is Louis Jadot. I enjoyed it very much and told him so. But I did not have the courage to ask him what it was. Can you tell me, please?

A: Pouilly Fuisse is a white wine from France’s exquisite Burgundy region, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. It’s from the Maconnais region, which is home to fine values. Premium Burgundies — white and red — are among the most expensive in the world. But this wine, coming from an area between the villages of Pouilly and Fuisse can be had from a retail wine shop for $25-$30. It shows off the great virtues of Burgundian Chardonnay, without the need for a second mortgage. The firm of Louis Jadot is highly respected and established its reputation as a negociant, meaning they blend their own wines to create their own style. A Jadot label is a virtual guarantee of value and quality. You, madam, have good taste.

ADVISORY: I have previously recommended a Spanish Tempranillo — dry red wine — called Vina Fuerte that I find at Aldi. It’s a very good wine at a wonderful price. But the last four bottles I’ve opened have surprised me with dry, crumbly corks. Be aware.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column publishes monthly.

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