June 20, 2020
Cottebrune Faugeres Red 16

Cottebrune Faugères Rouge 2016

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 […]
June 11, 2020
601 Rose of Grenache

601 Rose of Grenache 2019

Black peppercorns, blood orange rind and red roses come forth on the deep and savory nose. The same goodness continues in the taste – strawberries and blood orange for sure, but spice, flowers and texture are the major takeways where. And balance: not too fruity nor light nor rich. It hits the middle ground in this particularly complex and “serious” Rosé. The making of this wine is as impressive as the wine itself: top-notch, much sought-after Grenache fruit from Rutherford’s “McGah Vineyard,” intentional Rosé, one barrel made. 601 Cellars is owned and made by husband/wife Brian Doody and Laura Larson. Their […]
April 1, 2020
Jane Ventura Cava Rose

Jane Ventura Cava Brut Rose

A unique Cava in that it’s made from 100% Garnatxa. The vineyard lives 2000+ feet high (in the Montmell Mountains, 25 miles west of Barcelona) and close enough to the Mediterranean to enjoy cooling from both elevation and the sea, which in turn means healthy acidity and ideal ripeness for sparkling. The Jané Ventura Cava Brut Rosé smells and tastes of crisp, green-shouldered strawberries, pink grapefruit, lemon zest and toasted wheat bread. A definite palate-perker-upper, it is an ideal “starter wine” for any occasion and most any appetizer you can think of. To that end, I’m thinking of spicy guacamole, […]
February 17, 2020
Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas 15

le Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas Grande Reserve 15

A robust, spicy red from Gigondas in France’s Southern Rhone Valley. Just opened I get briary raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and with resuscitation out comes the five-spice, cinnamon, black pepper, dark soy sauce and roasted red chili pepper. It gets bolder and stronger with each passing minute of air. You get a whole lot of wine for your money here. The blend in the Mas de Flauieres Gigondas Grande Reserve is 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre. 
February 17, 2020
Trinafour Rosso Misto

Trinafour Rosso Misto 2017

Old vine Grenache and Carignane from Mendocino’s Redwood Valley are married in this bright, intense, food-friendly red. I smell and taste red raspberries, cranberries, wild cherries, pomegranate, white pepper and fennel frond. Reminds me of a top-notch Corbières or other such Southern France red wines with great character and no oak. I’m a big fan of Trinafour Cellars and its owner/winemaker, Alex MacGregor. The wines are consistently unique but not “out there,” very tasty and delivery exceptional value. Read all of my Trinafour Wine reviews HERE.
July 9, 2019
Mas Doix priorat les crestes

MAS DOIX Priorat Les Crestes 2016

80% Grenache, 10% Carignan and 10% Syrah. Showcases the Grenache grapes sappy, dark strawberry and raspberry fruitiness (relatively young 20 year old vines, so the fruit is highlighted over the earth). Peppery/minty spice smells and flavors, medium bodied, fine tannins that nibble on the gums. This delicious Spanish red pairs well with combo pizza, cheeseburgers, BBQ pork ribs and strong rice dishes. “Les Crestes” comes from the hillside vineyards of Priorat in northeast Spain near Barcelona. Relatively young vines at 20 years. Aged eight months in once-used French oak barrels, so not particularly oaky.    
June 1, 2019
Hogwash Rose 2018

HOGWASH Rose 2018

Almost 100% Grenache, most coming from “Bokisch Vineyard” Lodi. I call this a “Provence Style” Rosé because of its dryness and citrus/stone fruit/strawberry smell/flavor trifecta. Very dry and a low 11.8% alcohol, the 2018 Hogwash is set up to drink bottle after bottle. At $18/bottle it’s a DDWA Awesome Value and makes my “Best of the Best” Value list. Hogwash is part of Tuck Beckstoffer Wines/Seventy Five Wine Company.  
January 9, 2019
Benevolent Neglect GSM

Benevolent Neglect GSM 2016

This GSM is 70% G (Grenache), 20% M (Mourvedre) and 10% S (Syrah). A gorgeous wine, full of spice, sweet & uplifting strawberry and plum fruits, sweet earth and cured olive smells and flavors. The smell reminds me of Southern Rhone with its potpourri, fennel, musk and minty qualities. Perfectly ripe red fruits with a harmonic tang of acidity on the mid palate, followed by more savory spice at the end. I must admit I’m a little bit biased here because I love quality GSMs from anywhere, and I so enjoy the Benevolent Neglect wines as a whole. This is […]
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
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.
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 […]
May 17, 2018
La Bruja de Rozas

COMANDO G La Bruja de Rozas 2016

All Garnacha (Grenache), 50-80 year old vines, in the high altitude, rocky & rugged Sierra de Gredos mountains outside of Madrid. La Bruja de Rozas, the “entry level” multi-vineyard sourced Grenache from Comando G Winery, is just fantastic. Fermented in concrete tank then aged in super-big, mostly neutral oak barrel. Very pretty and intense, showing wild strawberry and plums, lavender, rosemary, thyme and Turkish spice smells and flavors. Medium body and acidity, intensity of flavor, lip-smacking fruit and, overall, a strong, pure, perfectly ripe style. This is buy-a-case worthy. Comando G La Bruja de Rozas 2016 is on my Best […]
May 16, 2018
Herencia Altes Garnatxa Rose

HERENCIA ALTES Garnatxa Negra Rose 2017

Very friendly, dry Rosé from Terra Alta in Spanish Catalonia. Picked for Rosé and direct press (Intentional Rosé), this wine has all the delicious qualities of Grenache/Garnacha/Garnatxa. Strawberries, watermelon, fresh pink roses, a dusting of black pepper. Big chill it and drink with gusto. Visit my complete list of Rosé wines here.
April 22, 2018
Betwixt Rose Wine

BETWIXT Rosé 2017

The aroma is classic, appealing Grenache Rosé: watermelon, blood orange, strawberry, peppercorn. Taste more of the same, but more constricted and subtle. Acidity and a talc-like savory quality take the lead. Tang, citrus and background red fruits on the finish. Ultimately, this falls into my REAL DRY category. That said, the red fruit flavors peak through more than most real dry ones. (Grenache just wants to be fruity!) This is 100% Grenache from the Lodi appellation (Mokelumne River is a sub-AVA of Lodi, in its southwest corner). Betwixt is a tiny winery in San Francisco. Owner/Winemaker Tim Telli’s winemaking story is […]
April 22, 2018
Hogwash Rose

HOGWASH Rosé 2017

Made with all Grenache from Sacremento Delta and Lodi vineyards. Grenache’s strawberry, watermelon and light spice nose is here in spades. Same fruit flavors with a suggestion of cotton candy and Jolly Rancher (without the sugar sensation-this is dry). The finish is quick and pleasant in its lightness (could use a little more finish, to be honest). This is solid, well-made Rosé with balanced acidity (zippy but not tart) that anyone will happily drink.   Consistently delicious, and one of the best Rosé wines that is readily available in California. Hogwash is owned by Tuck Beckstoffer, who has a handful […]
April 22, 2018
Kale Rose Kick Ranch

KALE Rose “Kick Ranch” 2017

Made from 100% Grenache from hillside vineyards outside of Santa Rosa. Fresh aromas of strawberries, watermelon and pink roses. More fruit in the taste: red berries, melons again plus blood orange with a pinch of white pepper and cilantro. A jolt of acidity elevates the fruity flavors and extends them into the bright, 10 second finish. Everything’s in place in this tiny-production Rosé from Cal-Rhone specialist Kale Anderson. My favorite grape for Rosé wines is definitely Grenache. Its spiced strawberry and dry herb character translates perfectly to pink. Kale has produced a great one here. In the premium Rosé range […]
February 21, 2018
Aspras Provence Trois Freres

ASPRAS Côtes de Provence Trois Frères 2015

The warm Provence, Southern France region and a particularly warm 2015 vintage make for a lush, deep, spicy red wine that combines crowd-friendly deliciousness and a definitive taste of the French Mediterranean. It’s mostly Grenache with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon supporting. Get deep, dark raspberry and blueberry fruits along with black pepper, black olive, smoked meats and berry liqueur yumminess. This wine is perfect for open fire pit cooking (braises and stews work like a charm, too).  
February 20, 2018

Chateau Montmirail Vacqueyras Deux Freres 15

Vacqueyras: Southern Rhone Valley appellation. 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. Older vines at around 50 years old. Montmirail is a “traditional producer” in the best sense. Their wines are pin-point expressions of their land, see no oak, and are made with great care. Destemmed grapes, long fermentation, bottled for America unfined/uniltered. This Rhone red takes an abnormally long time for a $22 wine to open up. It starts with smells and flavors of sasafrass, raw meat, black pepper, black licorice and muted flavors of dark strawberry and blueberry. Over time (2-3 hour of good breathing) the fruit blossoms and […]
February 20, 2018
Planetes de Vin 2013

PLANETES de VIN Priorat 2013

50-50 Garnatxes and Carinyenes (Catalan for Grenache and Carignane) aged “en amfora.” (Amphora-clay vessels. Use of Amphoras to hold wine date back to Roman times). The mountainous Priorat region in Catalonia is one of the world’s special places to make strong red wines. This fruit-driven wine smells and tastes of strawberry preserves, raspberry sauce, dried violets and whole pink peppercorns. Medium/full bodied, gentle tannins and fresh acidity. Has the balance of an acrobat.
January 17, 2018
Sere Montsant 16

Vendrell “Sere” Montsant 2016

80% Grenache, 20% Carignane from Vendrell’s organic vineyards in the Montsant D.O., 75 miles west of Barcelona. Dark plum, raspberry and strawberry smells and flavors are joined by cracked black pepper, fine chopped dry herbs and black tea. Medium tannins and body, no oak to speak of and medium/low acidity. More character and personality than most reds priced in the low teens.