August 27, 2019
Yves Cuilleron Syrah vigne da cote

YVES CUILLERON Syrah “Les Vignes d’a Cote” 2017

100% Syrah from a single vineyard somewhere in Northern Rhone Valley. (It’s IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, a broad designation covering a lot of the Northern Rhone.) Quality fruit and precise winemaking makes for a fruit and spice-driven, medium bodied, ready to drink Syrah. Start to finish you get ripe blueberries, black raspberries, cracked pepper, anise and black olive. Medium acidity, fine tannins. Combo of steel tank and neutral barrel ageing for around six months: not oaky. I poured this wine at a Cuilleron wine class and the room went nuts over it. I suggest finding some of this before it’s all […]
July 15, 2019
Verret Irancy 2017

Domaine VERRET Irancy 2017

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 […]
July 15, 2019
Gros Nore Bandol

GROS NORE Bandol 2016

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 […]
July 9, 2019
Boudinaud la Boissiere

BOUDINAUD Cotes du Rhone La Boissiere 2016

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.
June 24, 2019
Maison l'envoye Moulin a Vent

Maison l’Envoye Moulin a Vent 16

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 […]
June 5, 2019
Department 66 Others Grenache

Department 66 Grenache “Others” 2015

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 […]
May 1, 2019
Haut Plaisance Saint Emilion

Haut Plaisance Montagne Saint Emilion 2015

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, […]
February 26, 2019
Louis Cheze Saint Joseph Ro Ree

LOUIS CHEZE Saint-Joseph “Ro Ree” 2016

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.
December 12, 2018
Dureuil Janthial Rully

DUREUIL-JANTHIAL Rully 2015

I like the ripe, soft cherry smells and flavors and plush/creamy texture of this village-level wine from the Chalonnaise. The very warm, ripe 2015 vintage trumps the limestone soils and usual “feminine” style of Rully. That, and the nod to new-world winemaking practiced by Vincent Dureuil. Warm spices, candied orange zest and caramel peek through from mid-palate to end of the 20 second finish. This is a solid, sexy, drink-me-tonight Red Burgundy. More Information Rully appellation, Cote Chalonnaise, lies a mile from the Cote d’Or.  Vincent Dureuil Janthial is here, growing grapes and making out-of-sight white and red Burgundies. Certified […]
December 11, 2018
Gavignet Hautes Cotes Nuits

GAVIGNET Hautes Cotes de Nuits “Clos des Dames Huguettes” 2016

Bright, energetic Red Burgundy from a vineyard directly above Nuits-Saint-Georges, on the plateau that designates Hautes-Cotes de Nuits. Feminine style: wild red cherries, cranberry, plums, talc, bay leaf, fresh red roses. Light bodied, intensity (a requirement of good Burgundy), perky acidity, fine tannins. I wish it was a little bit longer on the finish (clocked in at 10 seconds, not bad). There is no doubt you are drinking Burgundy, and a good one at that, with the Gavignet Hautes Cotes de Nuits Huguettes. More Information This is one of the hundreds of quality, well-priced wines (French & Italian) imported by […]
November 29, 2018
Merieau Gamay Bois Jacou

Merieau Gamay “Le Bois Jacou” 2016

I really like this wine for its combination of Gamay-bright berry fruit, rustic character, light body, intensity of flavor and great price. Gamay, while not associated with Touraine (mid-Loire Valley, France) is definitely a “player” in the area, and rightly so. The cool climate, chalk/limestone soils and rich wine history make it a natural. Jean-Francois Merieau makes an honest, delicious, nervy style. Get raspberries, dried red cherries, tarragon, black tea and cola. A natural food wine. That said, I shared a bottle with my wife watching a film, sans food, and we were very happy. Opens up quickly. Jean-Francois Merieau […]
October 19, 2018
Clos des Centenaires Grenache

Clos des Centenaires Grenache 2015

Notice straightaway the bright, fresh raspberry and strawberry flavors of Grenache in the Clos des Centenaires 2015. Peppercorns, dry French herbs and plenty of fine, gum-coating tannins give the wine its definitive Rhone character. Medium acidity and really good intensity make me think of fatty pork, duck and bacon as ideal food partners. No oak flavor to speak of. I recommend this all day & all night at $22. More Information 80 year old Grenache from the southern-most part of Costieres de Nimes and Rhone Valley. 100% Grenache. 1/3rd whole cluster ferment. Luc Baudet and importer Jack Edwards created this […]
October 19, 2018
Besson Givry Petit Pretan

BESSON Givry “Petit Pretans” 16

I really like the delineation of flavors and richness of the Besson Givry Petit Pretans 2016. From a 30+ year old, Premier Cru vineyard in the Cote Chalonnaise, south of the Cote d’Or, in clay/limestone soil. Sports a deep, dark red, faint liqueur and plum sauce smell and flavor plus tarragon, truffle and black tea. This has plenty of structure and, more importantly, more stuffing than most Givry, especially from an ethereal vintage like 2016. Really nice now, but best drinking won’t start until 2022 I estimate. Here are all my Red Burgundy reviews (Red, White & Sparkling)
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 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 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 […]
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
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 […]
April 22, 2018
Pibarnon Bandol 2014

PIBARNON Bandol 2014

90% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache from Pibarnon’s Estate vineyard looking down on The Mediterranean. Deep, dark fruits go hand in hand with dark chocolate, smoked game and meat locker. Very structured and built to last – as good as it is now, I suspect this will shed its primary fruit and add layers of complexity in the future. 2025-2030 best drinking time, I’m guessing. Pibarnon is one of the great producers of Bandol, and this 2014 shows off their stellar reputation. 30-50 year old vines. Cement tank ferment, aged in large French oak barrels, small % new.