June 22, 2020
Roche Paradis Saint Joseph

Roche Paradis Saint Joseph Bergerie 2018

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 […]
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 […]
May 6, 2020
Mi Terruno Malbec

Mi Terruño Malbec “Reserve” 2016

Strong red berry compote and toasty oak at first whiff quickly transforms to a layered, deep red fruit, strong yet balanced red wine. Get kirsch, fresh blueberries, licorice, mineral, crushed thyme and black pepper. Medium/full bodied with soft tannins and acidity that give the wine structure. I had this wine with grilled flap steak tacos. It was the bomb! Crazy good wine for $19. This wine is available for purchase from its importer, Copa Fina, who brings in the wines of 28 small family wineries from Spain, Italy, New Zealand and South America. Everything I’ve tasted from the portfolio is pretty, […]
May 1, 2020
Pago Ayles Y

Pago Ayles “Y” 2014

This blend of 34% Garnacha, 27% Tempranillo, 23% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon is a mouthful of spicy dark berry flavors with underpinnings of rocky earth. Smell and taste cinnamon, black cherry liqueur, ripe blackberries, licorice, crushed rocks and vanilla. Medium to full body, soft tannins and a happy core of acidity make this a great drinking red wine now and through at least 2025…although it’s so good now why wait that long? Pago Ayles is one of only 19 Vino de Pago in Spain. (A Vino de Pago is a classification for Spanish wine applied to individual vineyards or […]
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. 
September 30, 2019
Grange des Rouquette Syrah Grenache

GRANGE des ROUQUETTE Syrah Grenache 2018

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.  
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
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.    
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.
January 19, 2019
Cottanera Etna Rosso

COTTANERA Etna Rosso “Diciassettesalme” 2016

Deep, dark red color. Earth-driven aromas of dry aged beef and quality cigar wrapper. Lots of dark red berry and cherry flavor. Wee bit of garden herbs and lavender in the taste. Long 20 second finish has fine tannins and lingering earth to complement the fruit. I really like this wine’s concentration and richness. Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano on the European continent. On the Eastern slope of this still smoldering giant are vineyards growing in dark, rich volcanic soil, making (usually) elegant wines often compared to Red Burgundy. 3 grapes grown: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and the white […]
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 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 23, 2018
Allegrini Palazzo della torre

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2014

A home run for sub $20 red. But not surprising as Allegrini Palazzo della Torre wine has over-delivered for the price for many years. This Veronese red (from near Verona, Veneto region, northeast Italy) is a blend of local grapes Corvina, Rondinella plus a splash of Sangiovese. Ripe dark cherries, sweet spices, pick-me-up acidity, gentle tannins. Easy wine to drink and drink. I know – I’m drinking it as I write on a calm Sunday evening. Buy this 2014 while it’s still around. Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre” is on my “Best of the Best” list of Awesome and Hall of […]
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.