Wine Talk

Snooth User: Jimmy Vino

Looking for a less expensive Chevalier de Bayard type wine

Posted by Jimmy Vino, Dec 24, 2014.

15 years ago, before I retired, I had a couple of bottles of Chevalier de Bayard. It was the best tasting wine I'd ever had. But now that I'm on a fixed income, I can no longer spend $25 on a bottle of wine.

Does anybody have any ideas of what wines are close to it but less expensive?

Thank you



Reply by EMark, Dec 24, 2014.

Jimmy, I am unfamiliar with this wine, but it is pretty easy to find info about it using Google.  From what I can find I see this wine described as "semi-dry" in one citation and "sweet" in others.

So, I am going to make two suggestions.  First, Moscato is very popular, these days.  You should have no problem finding Moscato from numerous makers for around $10.

Another very popular wine, these days, is Apothic Red.  This one can also be described as either semi-dry or sweet.  I'm pretty sure you can also find this for about $10.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

Reply by Jimmy Vino, Dec 27, 2014.

Thanks emark.

I found it to be more sweet than "semi-dry". Not Thunderbird or Ripple sweet. (Did that date me? Do those 2 even exist any more? I once had a bottle of Ripple when I was young, dumb and in High School. Key word there was "once".)

But I can't take dry or even semi-dry wines. Which way do Moscato or Apothis Red lean?

Reply by EMark, Dec 27, 2014.

Jimmy, in all honesty I'venever tried one, but my suspicion is that all the Moscato you see on store shelves for about $10 is downright sweet--no semi-dry about it.

To me the Apothic Red is sweet.  The next person may not agree.

Reply by Jimmy Vino, Dec 28, 2014.

Thanks again. I'll be checking both of them out and hoping to find one that I enjoy. Wish I wasn't so picky.

Reply by A Oak A, Jan 7, 2015.

I would probably try to identify which varietal (Or blend of varietals) was in those bottles. Then shop around for less expensive wines of the same varietal until you find one that closely resembles what you prefer.

Languedoc-Rousillon is a pretty big region in France. I bet the label designates the appellation somewhere. That might help you figure out the grape.

Reply by GregT, Jan 7, 2015.

Jimmy - As Emark says, the wine is from the Languedoc-Rousillon region, but that region is immense. They used to call it the Midi, then Languedoc-Rousillon, and in recent years, have decided to call it the “Sud”. I don’t think the problem was the name though. It’s the region where the French wine industry is in real trouble because it produces an ocean of cheap, not-too-good wine and when you read about the people rioting, that’s where it is. The EU has recently given them millions to uproot some of the Carignan and go into other businesses, but I think they’re still producing a lot of unwanted wine.

In any case, the wine is from a smaller region within the Languedoc called Pays de l’Hérault. Hérault is a river so that translates as the country of the Hérault. The most famous wine from Hérault is probably Mas de Daumas Gassac, which I would think is absolutely nothing like the wine you want. That one is a fairly unusual blend of different varieties ( “varietal” is an adjective, not a noun).

Generally the wines from the Languedoc are based on Carignan or Grenache, with Cinsault, Syrah, Counoise and Mourvedre also fairly common, as well as Merlot and a few other varieties. Producers aren’t as restricted as they are in other regions so you can get all kinds of blends, including stuff like the Gassac. I believe the Bayard is a blend of Granache, Carignan and Cinsault, in other words, a typical blend for the Languedoc.

Because the kingdom of Aragon once ruled the region, you can also find fortified wines that are very similar to sherry and Port. It’s really an area of great traditions and little-known gems.  And of course, they do make wines from various types of Muscat – that’s one of the world’s oldest cultivated grapes and it is used for sweet, fortified, and dry wines. The Moscato Emark is talking about is of course the Italian name for Muscat – it’s slightly sweet and low-alcohol and very floral because that’s the hallmark of Muscat.

The Bayard is made to be fruity, light, low tannin, and easy drinking. If you like that kind of wine, I would suggest looking at slightly off-dry rose wines as well as the Moscato and other wines made from Grenache. Carignan can be pretty tough and I don’t think you’ll really like it, whereas Grenache on the other hand, can have notes of strawberries and raspberries and it’s just really good. Look at some from Australia if you can find any.

Good luck

Reply by dmcker, Jan 8, 2015.

One more major problem with Languedoc wines is that the larger, shadier negociants there have been doing a lot of profit-taking for years by importing crap wine from North Africa and blending it with more-expensive-yet-still-cheap-and-mediocre local wine, stirring and shaking and bottling the swill as 'Languedoc' wine (when it isn't in fact or spirit and shouldn't be legally), and dumping it at the bottom of all sorts of markets around the globe, starting first with the Parisian market. Costs are so low that margins are still large even with  discount-looking prices. They are trading off the formerly good name of Languedoc wines (personally had a lot of great stuff from vintages in the '50s thru the early '80s when I was starting to drink back in the '70s and '80s), and ruining the current name for conscientious growers and winemakers who are still trying to (and actually doing so) produce good wine. Not fun to be one of those conscientious sorts in Languedoc these days, and thus there's a lot of hatred against those negociants and international conglomerates that are saturating the market with crap bearing the Languedoc name whether the wine is actually from there or not. On and off rioting, in fact, for decades.

Read a funny story about this recently. Even though this tendency has grown much worse in recent years it still seemed quite bad to the Languedoc hill folk back in the '70s. That's when the first of the modern round of riots occurred. Libya's Gaddafi was just getting going back then and he though he saw a great opportunity. Sent his agents up into those hills, offering massive amounts of oil dollars and Soviet-bloc armaments if the Languedoc folk would just revolt against France. Seems the Libyans got sent back home tout suite, though probably not before drinking a bit of that wine. Perhaps he was bothered enough by the refusal to then start sending more of that cheap North African plonk to those dodgy negociants, hoping to intensify the internal contradictions in France's version of capitalism and somehow jumpstart a revolution in a different way...

Reply by GregT, Jan 8, 2015.

If that's true about the Libyans it's a fantastic story. Should be a movie.

And you're right about some producers. The best Carignan I've ever had was from there. Really good wine. It would have had to sell for $100 retail and I asked the wine maker what he was thinking and how he thought he'd sell it.

He shrugged.

Pretty much summed up the problem.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 8, 2015.

To me from the moment I first drank some of that wine back in the '70s, Languedoc has been about stoniness and herbs (limestone and garrigue) in the air and on the palate. That fantastically, gently piercing light, and Mediterranean 'soul', for lack of a better term. Some great red juice with that spice and minerality, then that fresh acidic white that goes so well with the oysters and anchovies.

Still read occasionally about a movement out of the hills there name CRAV, that operates in the shadows armed with hunting guns and farming implements, to not-infrequently sabotage tank farms of manipulated  'Languedoc' wine. They follow a tradition that mouthed the slogan over the cobblestones of Montpellier's streets back in 1907, “Vive le vin naturel! Mort aux fraudeurs!”

Guess current debates on that subject aren't new...

Reply by GregT, Jan 8, 2015.

Nope. Nice historic info - CRAV is still around and from time to time you hear the same chants. They protested when Mondavi was coming in although Mondavi would have done much for the region and eventually Gallo moved in anyway. And most of the wine gets sold to one of the biggest negotiants in France anyway, perhaps with a bit of Algerian wine mixed in. But it's a beautiful area and some of the mountains are really cold and can produce really great Syrah too. And of course the hills are covered with the various herbs that smell so good and you can occasionally find truffles if you have a good dog. It's not unlike parts of CA - I'm looking out the window at the moment and it reminds me of the hills by Montpelier.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 8, 2015.

Don't know how much you can get back up into the hills of inland San Diego county, Greg, but I grew up very frequently traipsing across the backcountry mountains of Ventura, Santa Barbara and LA Counties, occasionally even up into San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, too. You come home with your clothes all smelling of sage and many, many other herbs depending on where you've been. Whole hillsides that would put herbalists and their kitchen gardens to shame before you walk a mile in. The garrigue in Languedoc is similar, though SoCal can be stronger.

One thing you can't get by taking a 30min trip out of NYC...  ;-)

Reply by GregT, Jan 8, 2015.

Yeah but 30 minutes outside of NYC and you're in Camden! Try to top that in CA!

Reply by dmcker, Jan 9, 2015.

Unless you're an utter Revolutionary War geek, or want to get down and dirty and maybe survive a visit with the utterly wrong crowd, I think I already did. Two visits to Camden running into the wrong sorts years back and I knew that sage and manzanita and shale hillsides behind and head-high or higher gnarly breaks in front--with a proper burrito in one hand a craft brew in the other--were somehow more my speed. From what I hear, Camden these days makes NYC during the Koch years seem like the Garden of Eden. Dealing with great whites up off Santa Cruz is probably a lot more fun. Although those who graduate from Camden's warrior academy might find the going south of San Diego rough in places.

That's a reality TV show that we've all been waiting for: 'Compton vs. Camden'! Sinaloa vs..... 

Well you get the picture.


Speaking of pictures, how hard was the choice?




Or these?!


(Everbody up and down the coast likes Johnny's burritos. From a '90s era LA Times article:

George Christy, president of the Hells Angels of Ventura, which has an office just down the street, said Johnny's appeal reaches beyond Ventura. He said he is constantly getting calls from Hells Angels in San Francisco and Oakland asking what time Johnny's closes so they can plan their trips to Ventura accordingly.

"We say, 'You guys aren't coming down to see us--you're coming to eat at Johnny's,' " he said. "They've rolled a lot of burritos for the Hells Angels.")



Was oh-so-difficult, but somehow was able to tear myself away from NYC and New Jersey, and head back to SoCal, where the worst enemy to be encountered for some time was the likes of a nasty yucca plant. Sliding down a shale hillside during a mountain quail hunting expedition afraid I fell on one. Got little satisfaction from blasting it with my 12 gauge after pulling the quill-blades out of my limbs.


Nursing my wounds while sipping the early wines of Santa Barbara County back then I did spend a moment wondering if Night Train was the official Jersey state wine...



So what I'm saying, Greg, is just embrace the CA herby hills, and surf and food, and ambiance even if San Diego doesn't have much of a wine scene!  ;-)     You can always head a bit north for that. Easier for me (and harder to understand phenomena like several parts of Jersey) since I was born into it, perhaps, but I'll take the Rincon over Camden (and its less apocalyptic environs), any day. La Jolla, certainly, too. Though I can viscerally imagine the culture shock away from NYC.

Now, if we can just get the Temecula grape growers and winemakers to produce products that give a sense of that sagebrush spice, and the fossilized earth.  Then get that to spread north up into Santa Barbara, too. It only took the Languedoc winemakers 2500 years after the Phoenicians and the Greeks brought them grapes and winemaking knowhow for it to become 2nd nature. Hopefully CA won't require that much time...   ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Jan 13, 2015.

So (and with apologies to the OP) making this the thread about hillside herbal and spice notes in wines of CA or France (or Spain or wherever) I'll ask some more specific questions here:

What CA wines have demonstrated these notes of hillside 'garrigue', sagebrush, whatever for you? GregT has mentioned elsewhere to me about Qupe Central Coast syrah, Petrichor's mourvedre, Edmund St. John's wines, and Ehren Jordan's Failla. 

Why is it that it seems easier to pick up those herbs-and-spices notes in some French and Spanish wines? Assuming, as I do, it's winemaking choices what are they? Or are varietals and their clones also a major factor?

And if growers and winemakers keep pushing further north with something like syrah into somewheres like Idaho or B.C., will it even be possible for to instill/foment/bring out such herbal spiciness?

Reply by dmcker, Jan 24, 2015.

For Fox: check out the photo and quote 2/3 of the way down my 4th post in this thread...

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