Tuesday, February 16, 2010

*+ $$ Josephine Dubois Grande Reserve Pinot Noir Bourgogne, 2003, France

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Original Review, November, 2008: One of the regular admonitions in the world of wine is that you simply cannot find a good affordable pinot noir. I keep seeking to debunk this as a myth, but I keep failing. My only exceptions over the last few years have been French Rabbit, Beringer's Founders' Estate and Presidio.

Here's one more attempt at debunking... let's see how we do.

The Josephine Dubois Grande Reserve Pinot Noir, 2003, already has a few years on it. It arrives in a showy bottle, big, thick, fat - looking more like champagne than wine in its wrapper. The label is boisterous, with both the words "GRAND" and "Grande" prominent (yes, spelled both ways - Courtenay's comment below explains the basis for the dual spellings).

In the glass it is light dusty brick in color, just edging towards brown at the rim. Aroma is strong of dusty basement, broccoli and chrome steel - a most unusual combo. On the palate, the first thing you note is the acids - they hit you square in the middle of your mouth, not along the sides as you might expect. It seems the broccoli has been garnished with lemon! And indeed, there is little fruit beyond lemon to find in the palate. Oddly, if I didn't think of this as a red wine, but instead thought I was drinking a steely New Zealand sauvignon blanc destined to pair with oysters, then the acids and flavors might make sense. But on a pinot noir, they leave me confused and wanting.

So, I'll offer one star out of five, with a plus for at least being palatable. Somehow, a reviewer at Cork'd offered 90 points. But I notice their description is phrase by phrase identical with a retailer's description of the wine, so I'm not buyin' it. And I'd suggest you avoid buyin' it too.

Sadly, it means the hypothesis about the lack of good, affordable pinot noirs remains a fairly sound one indeed.

Updated review about a year later, February, 2010, now eight years from vintage date... Now the broccoli and basement smell is still there, but more like you have a bunch of broccoli that you've had stored in the basement for the past eight year.  Whew... funky.  On the palate, there is still that odd, lemony, slightly old-world stingy fruit thing going on.  Tight tannins add to the lemon at the end.  I've still gotta offer a pass.  The one star plus still feels about right, although I will need to really taste a new vintage of this to be completely fair. 

Find Josephine Dubois Grande Reserve Pinot Noir pricing and retail availability.


  1. Keep fighting the good fight! I have passed over the Pinot selection for all but the Castle Rock that I know is worth the money. That said as soon as you find one worth recommending I am all over it!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. Meanwhile, yes, I've been meaning to try the Castle Rock. In the "practically free" category, only the French Rabbit Pinot Noir seems to have promise.
    Search site for "french rabbit" or url is:

    Funny, you can find all manner of tasty shiraz at this price point. But pinot is virtually a wasteland.

  3. Pinot is the only wine I shop outside of Trader Joe's for and this Hayman & Hill Santa Lucia Highlands is my go to bottle. Oh yeah, Malbec too. Wish TJ's could solve those two for me...

  4. This is actually pretty good juice for the money. But wow, I wouldn't touch a 2003 with a ten-foot-pole. For other cheap pinots try Cono Sur from Chile, La Campagna from France, and Cellar 8 From California

  5. Thanks for the comment, b. You're absolutely right, I need to try a more current vintage to be fair. The Cono Sur has been reviewed on SoW (search in top box). Appreciate the tips on Campagna and 8 too!

  6. Grand is a descriptor for the masculine noun vin. Grande is a descriptor for the feminine noun reserve. The French is correct and your snotty tone is embarrassingly misguided. I agree the wine isn't amazing, but maybe you lost my trust.

  7. Thanks, Courtenay. I've incorporated a pointer to your helpful explanation of "grande" versus "grande" in the posting. I agree, this understanding does improve my perception of the label. Not of the wine, though. Still, I will withhold final judgment until I can acquire a more recent vintage.