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.
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
Poliziano Rosso Montepulciano

Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2015

A delicious red for drinking anytime, the Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano is around 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. Flavors of briary, dark red raspberries and strawberries plus red currants, black tea and tarragon. Nice and intense in the mouth with soft tannins, bright acidity, no oak, and a big rush of white pepper-dusted berry fruits on the finish. Enjoy this with everything from sausage pizza to meatloaf to bean soup with root vegetables. I had it tonight with chicken tamales tonight and it was perfect! This is an excellent red to just have around when something good and very reasonably […]
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
Podere Sapaio Volpolo

Podere SAPAIO “Valpolo” 2015

From Bolgheri (Maremma) Tuscany. A “Super-Tuscan” in every sense except the price. It’s a bargain. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a smidge of Merlot and a dollop of Petit Verdot. This rich, dense, strong Tuscan Cab Sauv also shows licorice, French roast coffee and cola flavors. It’s a little monster in the mouth – the kind of monster you want to take home with you. California Cab drinkers – definitely buy some of this!
August 20, 2018
Gracciano della Seta

GRACCIANO DELLA SETA Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015

Strong, earth-first, “old style” Sangiovese (known as Prugnolo Gentile in these parts). Earthy dark cherries and blackberries are covered by black tea, dry tarragon and rosemary, tobacco and black olive in the Gracciano della Seta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015.  Tannins get big on the mid-palate, then, gracefully soften at the finish. This is not a wine for everybody. It is for fans of well-made, traditional style Tuscan red wine.  
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 6, 2018
Il Borghetto Monte de Sassi

IL BORGHETTO “Monte de Sassi” 2013

The Il Borghetto Monte de Sassi is 100% Sangiovese from Estate property within the Chianti Classico region (see below). Delicious, quite rich and ready to enjoy. Smell and taste dark red cherry liqueur, violets and red roses, nutmeg and new leather handbag. Fruity, round and gratifying in the mouth with just enough old world savory flavors to pin it as Italian. More Information While Il Borghetto is located in the Chianti Classico DOCG, disagreements between winery and “The DOC System” usually result in the Toscana IGP designation. No big deal as the wines are delicious and special. I did not […]
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 […]
June 24, 2018
Clefs des Murailles Vacqueyras

Clefs des Murailles Vacqueyras 16

A tasty Southern Rhone Valley red from the highly regarded village/appellation of Vacqueyras. Typical blend of the area: 70% Grenache followed by Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. This wine has loads of ripe, dark, slightly jammy blueberries and dark strawberries plus anise, lavender and cracked black pepper. A whiff of barnyard but no more. (Good bret, IMHO) Firm tannins along the gums on the finish are to be expected from Vacqueyras. Overall, this is clean, juicy, fruit-first Southern Rhone red that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. At $23 it is a Great Value. I would suggest letting it breathe to […]