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.
100% Roussanne from the southernmost part of Costieres de Nimes and The Rhone Valley. Oily, rich, honeyed, luxurious style which comes from the warm Mediterranean climate and the winemaking, including fermenting and aging the wines in neutral barrels. Smell and taste roast peaches, orange zest, honeycomb, white pepper and tarragon. Acid is there, between medium and medium high, and thank goodness. It makes the wine elevate. And we like elevation. The Clos des Centenaires Roussanne is an awesome value for under $30/bottle.
The Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut is, like most of their wines, 100% Chardonnay from the chalky vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs. First time they’ve released an Extra Brut/lower dosage. Really good balance, particularly impressive to me for an Extra Brut. Ripe fruit, high acid and faint sweetness work as a team with no one part dominating. That’s a good thing. All the typical flavors of Cotes des Blancs are here. Dryness nibbles the palate on the finish as the fruit lingers. At $40 this is a fantastic value for Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
This is a Rose Champagne to pay attention to. Smell and taste wild cherry, plums, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, rose petals, touch of peppery spice. A jolt of acidity is quickly followed by fresh raspberries and pie crust. More mouth-watering acidity than you may expect at first, but then fruit and richness make the Vilmart Cuvee Rubis sing. Highly recommended as a special occasion Champagne. The facts: 90% Pinot Noir (small % of it still wine), 10% Chardonnay. 2013/2014 vintages (good vintages to marry: 2013 higher acid, 2014 riper). No malo, barrel aged, a low 9 G/L dosage.
Oranges, honeysuckle, honeydew and lemon blossoms express themselves in the 2016 Pierre Gaillard Condrieu. From terraced, south-facing vines planted in decomposed granite. The result, especially in a vintage like 2016, is perfume, intensity and delicacy. This is my favorite style of Viognier in the world and I deny anyone to not like this! Add to the citrus, melon and floral qualities some peach pit, kiwi, white pepper and lemongrass. Tangy acidity, mineral-y finish. This is the real deal in Condrieu. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay from Champagne’s Vallee de la Marne. 2012 through 2015 vintages in this cuvee. Spent 2 years on its lees prior to disgorgement. Showing more austerity and earthiness at my tasting. The soil qualities will always be the star I suspect, but the citrus and orchard fruits, part dried/part fresh, will show themselves by early 2019. Marc Hebrart is recommended for Champagne lovers who prefer more earth-driven and less fruity Champagnes.
40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. Base wine is 2010. Aged 7 years on its lees. The Gaston Chiquet Cuvee de Reserve elicious Champagne, combining a friendliness of fruit and a creamy, doughy side from the longer aging. Easy to understand and totally enjoy while still being definitively Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
Owned and made by the Northern Rhone Valley’s Pierre Gaillard, Domaine Madeloc is his Roussillon (Banyuls and Collioure) brand. The Madeloc Banyuls Robert Pages is 90% Grenache Rouge & 10% Grenache Gris, late harvest, fortified (i.e. a Vin Doux Naturel, or VDN) then aged partially outside, in the elements, in big glass bottles (and part in neutral barrels). Sits lightly in the mouth for a VDN, showing sweet strawberry and raspberry flavors plus white pepper, anise, and chocolate/caramel smells and flavors. This is a great sipper by itself…you will find most will declare this “not too sweet” because of how […]
Wild red berry fruits, healthy acidity, meaty and spicy describe the Louis Cheze Cote Rotie Bellisima. Generous smells and flavors both in fruit and earth-driven flavors of iron, truffle and meat locker. Medium-high acidity, easy-going tannins. The theme here is intensity rather than sheer power. Drink now through 2025. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
This is a rich, brooding Saint Joseph that delivers equal parts bold fruit and spicy olive & earthy qualities. Particularly ripe for Cheze, which is indicative of the 2015 vintage. Blueberries, blackberries, dry aged & raw leg of lamb, black olive tapenade and smoky vanilla smells and flavors permeate your sensations. Medium low acid and relatively low tannins. This will age nicely well into the next decade, but not sure it will improve. Drink up with joy, and with some grilled red meat if you’re into that sort of thing. Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Anges comes from 50+ year old […]
Fresh, bright strawberries and raspberries with a dusting of peppery spice and herbs de Provence is your first impression of Mas de Flauzieres Gigondas Four Danuga. It makes sense, as it is the winery’s “early drinking” wine: gentle tannins, neutral oak aged, transparency. The blend is 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre. Along with the red berries, pepper and herbs, with air also get deep red plums, sweet grapefruit and anise. It’s polished and super-pretty…nothing like the rustic style Gigondas is known for. Tasty now with best drinking I’d say 2020-2026. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO […]
Subtle red fruit scents of raspberries, strawberries and cherries with violets and apricot sneaking in. The low dosage (about 5 Grams/Liter residual sugar, which is low) and earth-driven base wines make for an athletic Champagne with power and intensity. The Dosnon Champagne Recolte Noire is less fruity and more earthy than most Blanc de Noirs for sure. More Information This up-and-coming Grower-Producer in the Cote des Bar, southern Champagne, makes dynamite wine, and his prices are extremely fair. This is all Pinot Noir, barrel-fermented and aged (in Puligny-Montrachet barrels) then aged in bottle for 2-3 years (average length of time) […]
70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. A throw-it-back Rhone red with character. Smell and taste dark raspberries, black pepper, sweet red plums, strawberries, black licorice, thyme and rosemary. No oak influence to speak of, medium acidity, soft tannins. This has very good concentration, as you would expect from an $18 Cotes du Rhone, to be honest. Have this with Monday night meatloaf, red sauces and firepit cooking. Operation Dragoon is made by Northern Rhone winegrower Pierre Gaillard for the California wine market. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
An outstanding Northern Rhone Valley, France Syrah from the the northern portion of the 30 mile long appellation along the Rhone River. The Vincent Cluzel Saint Joseph 2016 offers up blueberry and dark wild cherry smells and flavors as it dances with classic sensations of smoky black olive, soy sauce, black pepper and bacon. Both pretty & uplifting and dense & chewy, this shows the quality and value you can get from high quality Saint Joseph. I just bought a six pack for myself (no lie). Drink now through 2025. Vincent Cluzel’s family owns and farms vineyards in Condrieu and […]
The Domaine des Coteaux des Travers Côtes du Rhône Char à Vin is 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah. Certified biodynamic winery. Opaque ruby color, nose of cooked fresh raspberries and cracked black peppercorns. It’s wild berry fruits first in the mouth with tasty, peppery spice and dried herbs de Provence swirling about. Soft tannins, medium acidity, juicy, quite bold and fresh. This is a very tasty Southern Rhone Valley red that, for $15 or less, is an easy choice for friendly dinners or when you’re all by your lonesome. More Information From the importer: “A char is a military […]
Delicious, fruity, crisp and clean mèthode traditionelle sparkling from the Languedoc, southern France. The J Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rosé cuvée is Chardonnay, Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. Get red plums, raspberries, fresh violets, blood oranges. A little creaminess, medium acidity, crystal-clear flavors and a little floral/spicy flavor on the back end & finish. Throw this one back. It’s almost too easy to down!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want a solid, straightforward, red wine with character for around ten bucks. Well, I tried the Boudinaud Syrah Grenache from the south of France recently, and BINGO this does it for me. The property borders the Southern Rhone Valley, so I call it a Rhone Red. Great fruit: ripe summer blueberries, blackberries and dark strawberries. Then a little black licorice, black pepper and cinnamon. It’s straightforward with medium acidity, no barrel flavors and soft tannins. And it TASTES like it’s from the Southern Rhone Valley. I’d happily have a case of this […]
Always a classic, mineral-driven, zippy wine, the Philippe Raimbault Sancerre 2017 is relatively fleshy and fruit-driven. In this vintage, the fresh green applesauce, juicy pears and lemon custard take on the chalky/seashell flavors, expected of Sancerre, in a fight for dominance. It’s up to the taster as to who wins. It’s close, and relative. If this were a California SB, it would be called “very Sancerre-like.”