Syrah from hillside, granite-heavy soils above Chavanay (the tenderloin of Saint Joseph). Deep, spicy, rich, seductive red wine, full of black licorice, peppercorns, blue and blackberry, mole and espresso smells and flavors. Concentrated and robust yet smooth with medium acidity and rounded tannins, this is a young Northern Rhone Valley Syrah to either drink or hold. Great value for a high-impact Syrah. Domaine de la Roche Paradis (“Rock Paradise”) is the creation of Yann Menager, whose day job is vineyard manager for the prolific Yves Cuilleron. Menager recently started purchasing special yet underappreciated vineyards in the Northern Rhone and making […]
The blend is 1/3rd each Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino. From Faugères, 60 miles west of the Rhone Valley. Elevation and rocky schist soils make for wines of concentration and dimension here. This wine is mighty fine. Honeysuckle, orange zest and lemon custard on the nose, then taste peach purée, ripe grapefuit and mango, wrapping up with fresh ginger and chamomile on the finish. Medium body, creamy texture from neutral oak aging and stirring of lees, heartbeat of acidity. Drink this with or without food. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by Pierre Gaillard of Northern Rhone Valley fame. […]
This Grenache/Syrah blend blend from the high quality yet relatively unknown Faugères appelation is a real gem. Growing in high density vineyards in the foothills of France’s Massif Central, Cottebrune Faugères “Les Moulins” is pure and pretty with loads of red plum, raspberry, strawberry and peppery spice pleasure. A subtle floral component-fresh violets and lavender-lurks in the background. Medium bodied, gentle tannins, healthy acidity and no oak flavor (only the Syrah is barrel-aged – third use so pretty neutral) make for a wine that is both distinctive AND easy to enjoy. Domaine de Cottebrune is owned, grown and made by […]
This is a very generous Champagne in its orchard (pear & apple) and citrus fruits, both nicely ripe giving impressions of sweetness. A smidge of breakfast pastry compliments the fruit. Think pear tart without the sugar. Creamy texture, a very “friendly” Champagne meaning all palates will like it. Not too dry, not too sweet. Just right. The Marc Hebrart Champagne “Cuvee de Reserve” is crafted from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay in Champagne’s Marne Valley, where the wines generally are both fleshy and particularly complex. 2013 through 2016 vintages in this cuvée. The wine has gone through malo for […]
There’s hip wine and then there’s really really good hip wine. Jacky Blot and his son “J.P.” grow Chenin Blanc in Montlouis, Loire Valley. 40+ year old vine fruit picked at perfect maturity. A “Pet Nat” or Petillant Naturel: single fermentation (in barrel), transferred to bottle to finish its single ferment. Triple Zero as in zero chaptalization, zero liqueur de tirage and zero dosage. (email me if you need definitions on these.) I love this wine. Chenin’s pear and tropical fruits peek through with white dusty earth, crisp seaside air and peach skins. It’s very dry and very flavorful, which […]
“Crunchy” Chardonnay grown in the chalky Cotes des Blancs, 3 years on its 2nd fermentation lees (“sur latte”) and low dosage. The result is damn good. Nothing terribly surprising, frankly, as Gimonnet makes solid if not spectacular Champagne every time. This vintage of “Gastronome” is very generous in its green heirloom apple, white flower, ripe lemon and quince flavors along with buttered biscuits, white chocolate and hazelnut. So good, I wouldn’t mind another taste of this right now. A relative value at $70/bottle. Read all my Pierre Gimonnet Champagne reviews HERE.
Dynamite fresh, juicy green apples, white peaches, mangoes and melon. Love the fruitiness and the fresh white flowers and rocky earthiness that complement that fruit. Fresh, tingly texture from the Chardonnay, low ML and short time on its lees (sur lattes). Roundness and depth from the terroir of Montagne de Reims. Has it all, and ready to drink too. For me, as good as it gets in Champagne for under $50. Made from 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir from Champagne’s Montagne de Reims region. Base wine went through 1/3rd malolactic. 48% 2016 vintage, 52% “Reserve” wines going back to […]
Rhone Valley producer Vignobles Boudinaud ventures outside the Southern Rhone for Grange des Rouquette. This is 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache all tank fermented and briefly aged before bottling. This delicious “quaffer red” is full of dark red strawberries, black pepper, black licorice and fresh violet smells and flavors. Perfectly ripe – neither jammy nor green – makes for good drinking for all. Roast chicken is a natural match, but it’s a friend for all types of dishes and cuisines. Worth having 6-12 bottles around and easy access.
The inimitable, prolific Yves Cuilleron makes a few thousand cases of this saignée Rosé, all Syrah from his hometown of Chavanay (which is the southern end of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley.) The wine’s prettiness and relative delicacy doesn’t make me think saignée. Get the raspberries, strawberries and cherries along with a lime-y citrus and, naturally, cracked black pepper. It’s very dry and easy to like, especially on the finish when an earnest berry flavor kicks in. I poured this wine at the Yves Cuilleron tasting I led. It won the room over – all 20 of us. The […]
Orange and peach skin color. Smells and tastes “Trés Provence Rosé,” i.e. as much dried citrus and stone fruit flavors as berries + rocky, peppery, dry herbal, floral flavors. (Sooo Provence) Fuller, almost creamy texture may make you think this is too much for rose, but it’s just right. The fuller body drifts off, leaving the basket of fruits and savory flavors in the 15-20 second finish. While $30 is a lot for any Rose, the Gros Noré justifies the price. Made from 50% Mourvedre and Grenache & Cinsault making up the the other 50%.
The Red Burgundy appellation Irancy is closer to Chablis than the Cote d’Or. One of high repute, then out of favor, and in the last 30-40 years on the comeback. The style, as you’d expect from Northern France Pinot Noir, is delicate and “bright.” The Verret is brilliant and bordering on transparent, smells of wild cherries and plums along with white pepper, violets and truffle shavings. A core of ripe wild red fruits harmonizes with the elevated acidity. Super food wine that can go so many directions. Salmon and such fattier fishes, pork and chicken gently seasoned, roast root vegetables […]
The “capital of Mourvedre,” Bandol lies on the French Mediterranean. The consistently very warm sun and hillside vineyards make Mourvedre ripe and the wines dark and rich. The 2016 Gros Nore is an outlier…it is dark, strong and rich as expected of Bandol. Its relative softness and accessibility (i.e. delicious now) is out of the ordinary for this producer. I get chocolate covered cherries, pipe tobacco, tarragon, black olives and smoky beef jerky. Fine tannins aplenty and medium acidity tells me it will improve through 2025 at least. But hard to keep the lips off of it now! This is […]
The estate vineyard and winery Boudinaud consistently brings big value to their wines. The red Cotes du Rhone “La Boissiere” is 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre then Cinsault and Counoise. Dark blackberry and strawberry fruit smells and flavors plus dry French herbs, cracked black peppercorns, dried lavender and musk. Ripeness, firm tannins and an animal-y earthiness line up to make a satisfying grilled red meat and strong sausage wine. This has French Bistro by the glass wine written all over it.
Made from 90% Grenache Gris, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Carignan. Grapes destemmed, combined and later either drained off or lightly pressed. The wine sports a Bandol/Provence-like orange color and tastes less berry and more blood orange, orange zest, white pepper and dry herb in style. Bright citrus-heavy fruit, snap of acidity and satisfying finish of crushed rocks, light strawberry and orange tea. Epic wine importer Kermit Lynch has imported Domaine de Fontsainte wines for 30 years. The rosé is the workhorse wine of the bunch: larger production, consistently good and a fantastic value. This is a sure thing winner for fans […]
A delightful Viognier from Northern Rhone Valley stalwart Yves Cuilleron. Citrus blossom and honeysuckle aromas complement white peach, ripe lemon and tangerine. In the mouth the wine is fruity, dry, modestly perfumed and medium/light bodied with a smidge of oily texture on the finish. Fermented and aged in 2/3rd neutral-ish barrels…aged on its lees 7 months for texture. This is one of the best Northern Rhone Viogniers you’re gonna find for $25-$30/bottle. Yves Cuilleron’s “Les Vignes d’à Côté” wines (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Gamay and Syrah) are excellent, typical Northern Rhone Valley wines that offer exceptional value. Translating to “The Vines […]
40% Viognier, 40% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne from Boudinaud’s Estate vineyard. All steel tank fermented and aged. Big on the fresh citrus: lime juice & zest, orange slices, grapefruit, honeysuckle, Key lime, fresh pineapple. Medium-light bodied and a refreshing thread of acidity. At under $15/bottle this is definitely case purchase worthy. Imported and sold by Wine House San Francisco in the Dogpatch neighborhood of The City. Pay them a visit!
Deep red cherry and raspberry fruits with a peppercorn, dried thyme and orange rind gift wrap. Medium/light bodied on the red wine scale, full bodied on the Gamay scale, which is due to the 60 year old vines and the natural “bigness” of Moulin-a-Vent relative to the other Beaujolais crus. Showing intense berry fruits with undertones of rocky earth. I like how its long, lingering, structured finish. Appropriate drinking both on the patio and the table clothed-dinner table. This wine is imported and can be purchased from Old Bridge Cellars in Napa. Contact them to buy and, if you live in or […]
Heady, rich, full-throttle red wine with no apologies for its big flavor. Fruits: ripe sweet blueberries, blackberries, chocolate covered strawberries. Black licorice and black pepper pop up as you savor and on the finish. So ripe and rich it’s almost sweet. Gentle tannins and not a lot of oak. This a real “bell ringer” of a red wine that fans of full-flavored Cabernets and red blends are sure to enjoy. Crazy-good deal at $25. Department 66 Others is old vine Grenache with Syrah, Carignane and Mourvedre accounting for 15-20% of the blend. From the Catalonia region at the bottom of […]
On the northeast flank of Saint-Émilion, the home of luxury wines like Ausone, Pavie and Valandraud, is Montagne Saint-Émilion. The soils, a mixture of clay, limestone and sand, are similar and the wines are too. Unbelievable values can be found in Montagne Saint Emilion, and here’s one that has earned my highest value status, a Hall of Fame Value. Chateau Haut-Plaisance Montagne Saint-Émilion 2015 is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense, dark fruit and expressive flavors of soil (terroir) take the lead with the barrel in the back (no new oak used). I get black currants, dried blueberries, dark chocolate, […]
Look to Quincy for delicious, mineral-driven, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. And in Quincy, buy Domaine Mardon. Quincy is 50 miles west of Sancerre along the Cher River. 50-80 year old vines, growing in river sand and gravel, make high-toned, zippy, pure Sauvignon Blanc. Quick attack of green apple skins, grapefruit, lemon/lime and river rocks. Ripe, crisp citrus and stone fruits quickly emerge on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity, perfect balance of fruit, soil and acid. Killer white here for $20.
Knowing this wine from multiple prior vintages, I pay the 2017 the best compliments I can give, which are classic and typical. You don’t want too much in an outstanding Loire Valley Sauv Blanc. Rather, you want brightness, intensity and the flavor of the rocky soils from which it comes. And here it is: citrus zest (especially lemon), spring flowers and rocky pebbles. Smells great, tastes great, finishes long and vibrant. I love wines like this to no end.
Textbook style of Northern Rhone Syrah here. Violets and lavender, bright red and blue berries, peppery spice and sun-dried tarragon & thyme. Has the intensity and a bit of wildness while keeping its appeal to a crowded room. It has easy-going tannins, medium high acidity and no oak flavor to speak of. It’s nicely surprising how easy to drink this young Northern Rhone red is. Big fan. Read all of my Louis Cheze wine reviews HERE.
Highly regarded winery Lucien Albrecht was a pioneer in the production and sale of Cremant d’Alsace (which is methode traditionalle sparkling, or bubbles-made-in-bottle as I like to say), making it in 1976 when the French AOC for Cremant d’Alsace was established. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. Nicely on the very dry side of Brut, showing bits of plum, cranberry and red melon flavors. It’s austere in a good way. On a personal note, in my house the Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose has usurped our long-beloved Allimant Laugner (also a Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose) as the house bubbles. The […]
Vallee de la Marne producer gets Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blancs for their Blanc de Blancs Champagne. I like Chardonnay’s crisp lemon/apple character and “zip” character, followed by a round, voluptuous mouth feel and lightly toasty flavor that comes from the lees aging in bottle. This has something for fans of all styles of Champagne. More Information Jean Diot is a family-run Champagne house started in the 1960s and going strong today. These are all very well-made Champagnes selling for very reasonable prices.