January 7, 2019
Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose

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 […]
December 10, 2018
Jean Diot Champagne Blancs

JEAN DIOT Champagne Blanc de Blancs

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.
October 24, 2018
Clos des Centenaires Roussanne

CLOS des CENTENAIRES Roussanne 2016

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.
October 24, 2018
Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut

Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut

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.
October 24, 2018
Vilmart Champagne Rubis

VILMART Champagne Cuvee Rubis

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.
October 24, 2018
Pierre Gaillard Condrieu

PIERRE GAILLARD Condrieu 2016

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.
October 24, 2018
Marc Hebrart Champagne

MARC HEBRART Champagne Brut

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.
October 23, 2018
Gaston Chiquet Champagne Reserve

GASTON CHIQUET Champagne Cuvee de Reserve

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.
October 23, 2018
Madeloc Banyuls Robert Pages

MADELOC Banyuls “Robert Pages”

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 […]
October 18, 2018
louis cheze cote rotie bellisima

LOUIS CHEZE Cote Rotie “Bellisima” 2014

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.
October 18, 2018
Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Anges

LOUIS CHEZE Saint Joseph “Anges” 2015

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 […]
October 18, 2018
le mas de flauzieres gigondas

MAS de FLAUZIERES Gigondas “Four Danuga” 2016

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 […]
October 18, 2018
Dosnon Champagne Recolte Noire

Dosnon Champagne Recolte Noire

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) […]
October 17, 2018
Operation Dragoon Cotes du Rhone

OPERATION DRAGOON Cotes du Rhone 2015

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.
October 17, 2018
Vincent Cluzel Saint Joseph

VINCENT CLUZEL Saint-Joseph 2016

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 […]
August 28, 2018
Coteaux Travers Cotes du Rhone Char a Vin

Coteaux des Travers Cotes du Rhone 16

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 […]
August 24, 2018
J Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rose

J. LAURENS Crèmant de Limoux Rosé

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!
August 20, 2018
Boudinaud Syrah Grenache

BOUDINAUD – Grange des Rouquette Syrah-Grenache 2017

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 […]
August 20, 2018
Raimbault Sancerre

RAIMBAULT Sancerre Apud Sariacum 2017

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.”
July 28, 2018
Coutier Champagne Blancs

R.H. COUTIER Champagne Blanc de Blancs

A bit of an oddity as it is made from 100% Chardonnay in Ambonnay, a village in the Champagne region Montagne de Reims: definitive Pinot Noir country. (It’s Pinot country because the soils lend themselves to making great Pinot-based Champagne.) Get pear/apple, ripe citrus, stone fruits (apricot, peach), fresh tarragon and lemon balm. Burst of acidity, just what’s needed, in the mouth and going down. Since it’s a little “rounder” because where the grapes come from, it drinks great alone – better than most Blanc de Blancs Champagne. And the price! For $44 it demolishes the big Champagne houses and […]
July 25, 2018
Arnaud Mortet Gevrey Chambertin

ARNAUD MORTET Gevrey Chambertin 2016

A “friendly” young Gevrey Chambertin. From nose to the end of its 25 second finish get dark ripe cherries (griottes!), more ripe berries, plums and pomegranate, ripe tannins, a little cocoa and dry aged beef. Very accessible for such a young one. You could drink this tonight without guilt. More Information Owner/winemaker Arnaud Mortet is the winemaker and co-owner (with family) of Domaine Denis Mortet. These wines are made side by side, by Arnaud, with the Denis Mortet wines. This Gevrey is the first I’ve had of the Arnaud Mortet wines. I look forward to having more, and future vintages! […]
July 25, 2018
Buisson Charles Meursault

BUISSON CHARLES Meursault 2015

Impressive how so much aroma and flavor is packed into the 750 ML bottle. Starts smoky and bright with roasted whole lemons, citrus blossoms, sliced white peaches and fresh from the oven biscuits. Taste lemon sorbet, caramel, buttered wheat toast, roast hazelnuts (naturally!) and apple butter. This is super-intense. If the same wine was a Premier or Grand Cru, and labeled as such, you would not doubt its provenance and think it a glorious bargain. Instead, it’s “just” a village Meursault.
July 25, 2018
Jerome Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape

JEROME GRADASSI Chateauneuf du Pape 2016

This is a blend of 75% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre. It has a deep, ripe core of sun-ripened blue and blackberries with a supporting cast of black currants, cola, leg of lamb (gamy), black pepper and mint. I like the power, and with a one hour decant I’d be happy to drink it tonight. But I think the best move is to cellar this short term. 2022-2030 drink zone sounds about right to me. For power, complexity and price (especially price), the Jerome Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape takes me back ten years, when this was my favorite appellation. But with escalating […]
July 25, 2018
Santa Duc Quatre Terres

SANTA DUC Cotes du Rhone Les Quatre Terres 2015

Domaine Santa Duc Quatre Terres is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 5% combined of Cinsault, Carignane and Clairette. Grapes grow in four distinct plots owned and farmed by Santa Duc. (See below for more on this.) The wine marries ripe wild strawberries and plums with new leather, veal stock and black pepper character. It’s a straightforward red that delivers the goods for those looking for a good, honest Cotes du Rhone. More Information Santa Duc calls this Cotes du Rhone “Les Quatre Terres” because the fruit comes from four estate vineyards, one each in the […]