I noticed that on my last trip to Louisville, there were a few popular priced wines that I tried, and some made me rethink about some of the wines that I tried when I was still a student. Back then I was a real student, but I still feel that I am a student of wines. Neither of the two bottles that I will mention has a vintage, whether they were on a neck band or were just non-vintage I cannot recall with certainty, though I would say that I tried them around 1970 or so. I do remember that I could not always afford a fine wine, and to this day, that statement still holds true. I was experimenting with all types of wines and especially French wines, because at that time, France was where it was at, for wines. I remember being curious about the different regions and if there were hidden gems that I could unearth for myself and save three to then dollars a bottle. I would make a pest of myself asking questions from wine merchants and hope that they did not realize that I was at that time, an underage consumer. I used to bring a couple of wines to family gatherings, as I could not contribute any culinary skills for the occasions. The two bottles of wine that I will mention were under the Mirebeau label, and were bottled and shipped by Paul Milhau of France. I did a Google search for these two names without any luck, so I must surmise that neither name is still being used in the wine trade.
The first wine that I will discuss was a white wine; Mirebeau Blanc de Blancs Reserve des Amiraux. One of the earliest discoveries I had about wines that were not rated wines as in the famed wines of the Medoc, was that they would have sometimes have fancy names. Reserve des Amiraux loosely translates for me as Reserve of the Admirals (or Admiralty) which has no real meaning for wines, but it does sound very impressive. This wine was a Blanc de Blanc which I understood to be a white wine, and it also listed Ugni Blanc as the grape varietal. Ugni Blanc is more commonly known as Trebbiano, and may be one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and used for local or table wines everywhere. It is not a stellar varietal compared to some of the other grapes that are touted on wine labels, but it is usually fresh and fruity, especially if it is drank young. I remember that this wine was not so popular at the family gathering, but then anytime I brought a white wine, my brain was questioned, as red wine was the norm at these occasions.
The other wine that I took to the party was a Coteaux du Languedoc Reserve des Chevaliers. Reserve des Chevaliers is also a fancy name invoking a French Order of Chivalry; Knights of the Round Table and such, but also having no real meaning for wines. This wine is from the Coteaux du Languedoc which is one of the largest wine producing areas of France and is a legitimate Appelation Controlee, in fact it is such a large area that today there are eight sub-divisions with their own Appelation Controlee. The most common grape varietals of the Coteaux du Languedoc are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre and then there is to a lesser extent Carignan and Cinsault. If you look at the label, you will also see a small postage stamp emblem of a hand holding a wine glass with V.D.Q.S – Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure or Delimited Wines of Superior Quality, which is step below the ranking of an Appelation Controlee and is found on some better bottles of “table wines.” I do remember this bottle being more roundly accepted, though there were some that asked “what happened to those good wines that you brought the last time?”