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d'autrefois pinotBurgundian Pinot Noir has become so expensive it is nearly impossible to find one under $25 and even that will typically be of low quality. If you want French Pinot Noir you have to look to the less celebrated regions.

Pays d’Oc is the country wine region that covers much of Southern France, with regulations that govern wine not made under the stricter rules of the AOC appellations. Country wine is of higher quality than table wine but is lower than AOC wine, although many of them are surprisingly good. However, Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle grape that likes cool weather. There is no reason to think it will do well in the hot, summer climate of Southern France. And indeed, this wine is simple and rustic.

The dominant flavors are bright cherry shading to cranberry but with a pronounced mineral background that turns metallic. Faint mushroom appears with some aeration. The body is spare, the texture stony with sandy tannins that are quite persistent. A linear wine but with more backbone than most cheap pinots and no evident oak influence. If you’re tired of the soft, fruity, sweet U.S pinots that inhabit the bottom shelf, this is a clear alternative. It won’t quench your thirst for Burgundy but then it won’t rob you of a paycheck either.

Pair with roast chicken and some hard country guitar pickin’, Buddy Miller’s Worry too Much

Score: 83

Price: $12

Alc: 12.5%