Featured Monthly Tasting:

Selections from Spain
and Southern France



February 2008

Flag of Spain Flag of FranceThis month’s Featured Monthly Tastings puts the spotlight on Spain and France. From Spain we tasted high quality wines from all over the country including many from lesser known regions. From France our tasting focused on the attractive wines from Southern France and in particular, the Côtes du Rhône, Costieres de Nimes, Corbières and the Coteaux du Languedoc. We discovered wines of outstanding quality and exceptional value from both Spain and Southern France. Complete tasting notes on all the wines tasted by the International Wine Review follow our brief summary below.

Top Rated Wines: Among the outstanding Spanish wines that we tasted are: Baigorri 2003 Reserva (92 points), the Baigorri 2003 Vino de Garaje (93 points), the Jalon 2005 Las Pizarras del Jalon (93 points), the Callejo 2005 Crianza (92 points), the outstanding Callejo 2004 Reserva (95 points), and the simply spectacular Callejo 2004 Felix Callejo Family Reserve (97 points).

Some of the outstanding wines of Southern France that we tasted are: the Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2004 Chateau d’Aussieres (93 points), the Chateau d’Or et de Geueles 2004 La Bolida (92 points), the Chateau Grande Cassagne 2005 “G.S.” (91 points), and the Domaine Calage Resseguier 2003 Rosmarinus (91 points).

Outstanding Values: We found an unusually large number of excellent values among the Spanish and French wines we tasted. This is due in part to the fact that many of the Spanish wines come from lesser known wine growing regions, and many of the French wines also come from regions which until recently had a reputation for producing rather poor quality wine. Examples of good value Spanish wines include: Jalon 2006 Viña Alarba Old Vines Grenache ($10, 87 points), the Muñoz 2004 Legado Muñoz ($14, 89 points), the San Prudencio Cueto 2005 Envite Crianza ($18, 90 points), the Merum 2006 Old Vines Grenache/Syrah ($18, 91 points), and the Bodegas Real 2002 Palacio de Ibor ($22, 92 points), which is a standout both in terms of quality and value.

Wines of the South of France which we find to be excellent values are: the Château Lamargue 2006 Costières de Nîmes ($11, 88 points), the Château de Valcombe 2004 Tradition Costières de Nímes ($13, 89 points), the Château de Ségriès 2005 Lirac Cuvée Réserve Côtes du Rhône ($15, 90 points), and the Château d'Or et de Gueules 2003 Select Rouge Costières de Nímes ($15, 90 points). Perhaps the best value of all is the Château Grande Cassagne 2005 “G.S.” Costières de Nímes AOC ($12, 91 points) which is also one of the highest quality wines we tasted in this category.

Spanish Wines

Flag of SpainThis month’s tasting of Spanish wines comes from the portfolio of Quality Wines of Spain, which is a relatively new importer of outstanding wine from all the regions of Spain.   It is owned and operated by Florencio Navarro, a Spanish entrepreneur with real talent for identifying up and coming wineries.  Its portfolio, known as The Artisan Collection, is notable for its overall quality and the selection of producers who follow ecologically sound vineyard practices and modern winemaking techniques.  The Artisan Collection also consists of a wide range of good value wines, many from Spain’s lesser known wine growing regions.

Bodegas Altanza 2001 Altanza Reserva Seleccion Especial Rioja ($39) 88

This medium ruby wine of 40+ year old vines is aged 18 months in new French oak casks. It’s honest and straightforward in style with a lovely cherry nose and dried cherry fruit flavors on the palate, complemented by a nice gripping finish.

Bodegas Altanza 2005 Capitoso Rioja LabelBodegas Altanza 2005 Capitoso Rioja ($17) 87

Medium ruby garnet in color, this straightforward 100% Tempranillo wine from 30+ year old vines is medium ruby garnet in color with an attractive nose of cedar and sandalwood. The attack is soft and full of flavorful, pretty, tangy cherry fruit. Well-balanced with a long, soft finish.

 

Bodegas Altanza 2004 Lealtanza Crianza Rioja ($22) 91

100% Tempranillo with 12 months in French and American oak, this medium dark ruby Rioja has aromas of herbs and cigar box and a nice soft attack of black and red fruit framed in spicy oak. Well-balanced with nice purity of flavor and a long, flavorful finish complemented by soft tannins. An extra year in bottle has improved this wine, and our score. Great value!

Bodegas Altanza 2004 Lealtanza Reserva Spanish Artist Collection Rioja ($110) 92

A special Rioja, dark ruby opaque in color, made from 75+ year old vines, aged 18 months in Allier French oak, and displaying a nose of sweet oak with dark plum notes. Somewhat closed at this stage, it’s still big and full on the palate with fresh and dried black fruit flavors and soft tannins on the finish. Judging from older vintages, this wine has a bright future.

Baigorri 2005 Blanco Fermentado en Barrica Rioja ($40) 87

This 100% light to medium bodied Viura wine from 70+ year old vines is aged twelve months in new French oak. It has aromas of tropical fruit suffused with vanilla oak. The attack is very soft with predominantly warm vanilla flavors that carry through to the finish.

Baigorri 2004 Crianza Rioja ($30) 88

Medium dark ruby in color and aged twelve months in new French oak casks, this traditionally crafted Rioja offers up lovely cherry and sandalwood aromas. Round and full on the palate with dark cherry fruit flavors and a dollop of spicy oak. Finishes long and fruity.

Baigorri 2003 Reserva Rioja ($48) 92

An exceptional, rich and delicious modern wine of dark ruby color, aged 18 months in new French oak. The dark cherry and cigar box nose gives way to a big, soft attack of fruit and warm oak. The mouth feel is lush with ripe, concentrated dark plum fruit.

Baigorri 2003 Vino de Garage Rioja ($95) 93

Made from 70+ year old, low-yielding vines and aged 18 months in new French oak, this dark ruby, medium-bodied, modern-styled wine has aromas of cigar box, sandalwood, and leather with red fruit notes. Silky and elegant on the palate with lovely black cherry and plum fruit beautifully married to expensive-tasting toasted oak. Finishes soft and long. Should continue to age nicely.

Callejo Crianza LabelCallejo 2005 Crianza Ribera del Duero ($33) 92

Callejo is one of Ribera del Duero’s top producers. This100% Tempranillo is from non-irrigated 35+ year old vines grown at an altitude of 2800’ and aged 12 months in 70% French and 30% American oak. The color is saturated garnet with a purple edge, and there’s sweet fruit on the nose with vanilla oak underpinnings. This is a well-balanced, well-structured, youthful wine that is full and rich on the palate, with spicy black fruit and good gripping tannins.

 

Callejo 2006 Cuatro Meses en Barrica Ribera del Duero ($22) 89

This is a saturated ruby garnet colored wine made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 4 months in 80% French and 20% American oak. A complex aroma of box spice—anise, caramon, caraway seed—and black currants leads to a soft, round and well-balanced attack of brambly, black fruit and good, gripping tannins on a persistent finish. This very tasty wine is for early drinking.

Callejo 2004 Felix Callejo Family Reserve Ribera del Duero ($134) 97

An incredible 100% Tempranillo wine from low-yield 60+ year old vines aged 15 months in new French oak barrels. The color is opaque garnet, completely saturated to the edge. A deep brooding fruit rich bouquet of blackberry and cassis gives way to a powerful palate packed with flavor and a long gripping finish.

Callejo 2004 Reserva Ribera del Duero ($48) 95

This is a 100% Tempranillo from 50+ year old vines aged 20 months in 70% French and 30% American oak with an astounding opaque garnet plus color totally saturated right to the rim. Complex, balanced spice box aromas run right through the wine. While the attack is round and lush, this is a very structured, well-balanced wine with lots of grip and a beautiful, persistent finish. Definitely a world class wine.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalon 2006 Alto las Pizarras del Jalon Calatayud ($43) 90

Made from 70-100 year old Grenache vines and aged 11 months in 100% new French oak, this wine is dark opaque ruby in color with a purple rim and a fruit forward nose of dark plum and toasted oak. A fully, fruity attack shows flavors of ripe plum and nicely integrated vanillin oak with a rich, round and lush mouth feel. Additional time in bottle is likely to produce a wine that is still more interesting.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalon 2006 Claraval Calatayud ($56) 89

A 100% Grenache-based wine aged 6 months in new French oak. Has a modern nose of fresh, rich black cherry fruit. Attacks softly with flavors of dark plum fruit and well-integrated oak.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalon 2005 Las Pizarras del Jalon Calatayud ($56) 93

Made from 100% old (70+ years) Grenache vines and showing a gorgeous dark ruby color in the glass and a subdued nose of dark plum and spice. Modern in style with a rich, round and flavorful palate of layered ripe dark plum and red berry fruits with light oak spice. Very well balanced with soft but firm tannins and a long finish.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalon 2006 Viña Alarba Calatayud ($9) 86

This is a medium to dark ruby colored wine made from 80% Grenache and 15% Syrah. Shows a nice, plummy nose followed by a soft attack of red fruit and assertive tannins.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalon 2006 Viña Alarba Old Vines Grenache Calatayud ($10) 87

A 100% Grenache based, medium-dark ruby colored wine from old vines (50+ years) aged in American oak for two months prior to bottling. Plum, dark berry and oak spice aromas are followed on the palate by a light and soft, fruit driven attack. Shows pretty cherry flavors and assertive tannins that will soften with a little more bottle time.

Bodegas y Vinedos del Jalon 2004 Viña Alarba Pago San Miguel Catalayud ($20) 85

Made from 70% Grenache and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented separately and then aged six months in new French oak. Dark ruby color with a dark plum nose with herbal—clove and oriental spices—notes all framed in oak. Spicy and slightly astringent on the palate.

Bodega del Palacio de los Frontura y Victoria 2004 Crianza Toro ($NA) 88

Ruby in color with a pleasant red fruit and spice box nose. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and well-structured with a sweet approach of nicely concentrated plum and cherry fruit.

Bodega del Palacio de los Frontura y Victoria 2005 Dominio de Valdelacasa Toro ($NA) 87

A medium-bodied wine of ruby-garnet color that spends 6 months in new French oak. There’s a nice, sappy concentration on the nose, and the palate is straightforward and, also, nicely fruited with low acidity and round tannins. Ready to drink now.

Finca Munoz 2005 Cepas Viejas Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($40) 87

Made from 60+ year old Tempranillo vines and aged 12 months in new French oak. Dark garnet color ripe fruit and herbal notes on the nose. On the palate, there’s ripe, sappy cranberry fruit and sandalwood and seed spices, especially cardamom, and fairly high acidity.

Bodega Gordonzello 2004 Peregrino 14 Tierras de Leon ($36) 86

This medium dark ruby colored, full-bodied wine is of 100% Prieto Picudo (a black skinned highly aromatic grape grown mainly in Spain) aged 14 months in new French oak. The Gordonzello vineyards are not irrigated, and neither artificial fertilizers nor pesticides are used. The wine has warm, sweet oak and plum compote aromas. Traditionally styled with a soft attack, showing very ripe fruit fully framed in oak with a tannic edge. Finishes on the dry side.

Bodega Gordonzello 2005 Peregrino Prieto Picudo Roble Tierras de Leon ($18) 88

This 100% Prieto Picudo, is a medium garnet colored wine aged 6 months in French and American oak and displays a bouquet of dried dark cherry and spicy, sweet oak The attack is firm with gobs of dark, spicy black fruit and violet notes and the finish is dry and firm.

Merum 2006 Old Vines Grenache/Syrah Madrid ($18) 91

A dark ruby colored wine made of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from high altitude (2200’) vineyards located in Arganda del Rey, south of Madrid. Sixty year old Grenache vines, dry farming, and extreme weather combine to produce very low yields. A very ripe, modern nose of warm oak, cherry and plum gives way to a soft, fruit driven attack of red fruits framed in vanilla oak. Very similar in quality to our assessment of the 2005 vintage. Very nicely balanced with gripping tannins on the finish.

Merum 2006 Monastrell Joven Jumilla ($11) 87

A medium-ruby colored, light to medium bodied wine of 85% Monastrell and 15% Syrah. The extreme weather conditions of Jumilla and dry-farming result in very low yielding vines—1.5 tons per acre. The nose shows fragrant blueberries and pomengranate framed in sweet oak. Attacks softly with mouthfilling, pretty fruith flavors and a dry finish.

Viñedos y Bodegas Muñoz 2006 Legado Muñoz Garnacha Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($10) 86

This Grenache based wine is medium dark garnet in color with a sandalwood and spice nose. Attacks softly with pretty Grenache fruit, seed spice accent, and good acidity.

Viñedos y Bodegas Muñoz 2004 Legado Muñoz Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($14) 89

A ruby colored wine made of a Tempranillo and Merlot blend with a fragrant nose of tea, leather, cowhide, and black cherry. This is a nicely structured, fruit driven wine that is youthful and fruity on the palate and persistent on the finish.

Viñedos y Bodegas Muñoz 2005 Legado Muñoz
Reserva de la Familia Barrel Aged Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($20) 87

A medium-dark ruby wine made from 40+ year old vines and aged 6 months in French and American oak. Medium dark ruby color with a sappy, Grenache like nose. Has a round attack, but it’s gunpowder dry on the palate.

Vinicola Pizarro 2005 Picres Ribera del Duero ($48) 89

A complex, interesting wine of saturated opaque color with cardamom and caraway spice box aromas. There’s good, almost creamy fruit on the smooth palate with orange zest and Asian spice notes. Good tannins on the finish, but more time in bottle is likely to improve this wine.

Bodegas Real 2002 Palacio de Ibor Valdepenas ($22) 92

The grapes for Bodegas Real come from an estate located near the Jabalon River. This is a ruby plus colored wine made of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from ecologically cultivated vineyards, aged 12 months in large French Allier oak barrels. Very fruit forward aromas with delicious, delineated black cherry fruit with quite high acidity on the palate. Overall, a very high quality wine that’s delicious to drink today.

Rezebal 2007 Getariako Txakolina ($22) 88

Made of 80% Hondarrabi Zuri and 20% Hondarrabi Beltza, varietals common to the Basque Country. Very pale in color, this wine has a green apple nose. The attack is somewhat spritzy with clean, crisp fresh green apple juice on the palate. Finishes nice and long with a sweet-sour character.

San Prudencio Cueto 2005 Envite Crianza Rioja ($18) 90

A blend of 60% Tempranillo, 25% Grenache, and 15% Mazuelo from high altitude 50 year old vines aged 14 months in 60% French and 40% American oak that is medium dark ruby in color. A complex nose--smoky, cigar box nose, meaty, and earthy aromas with a violet note—lead to a soft attack of pretty blueberry and plum fruit with accompanying smoky, meaty notes. Excellent value!

Tinto Rioja LabelSan Prudencio Cueto 2007 Tinto Rioja ($10) 87

A straightforward, medium-ruby color wine made from 90% Tempranillo, 5% Grenache, and 5% Mazuelo showing a fruit forward nose of very ripe, red berry fruit. The palate is best described as round and soft with very fresh, pretty red berry fruit. Don’t cellar this easy drinking wine.

 

French Wines

Flag of FranceThe wines from Southern France are among the best wine values on the market today. Most are tasty blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and are produced in both rustic and modern styles. Many of the wines reviewed here are from the portfolio of Robert Kacher Selections. Over the past 20 years Robert “Bobby” Kacher has played a leading role in bringing wines of high quality and value from France to the American consumer. He practices a hands on approach in working with winemakers and growers and championing reducing yields, green harvesting, and hand picking of fruit at the point of physiological ripeness. The tasting also covers selections from some of the regions’ top producers such as Jean Luc Colombo, Domaines Barons Rothschild Lafite, and Grande Veneur.

Roussillon Villages LabelChâteau de Jau 2003 Côtes du Roussillon Villages ($16) 90

The Château de Jau is located in French Catalonia, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. This dark ruby garnet blend of 45% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 15% Carignan, and 10% Grenache 10% exhibits a red and black fruit rich nose. On the palate, the attack is silky soft with ripe red and black fruit, earth and leather notes. Overall, this is a nicely balanced and nicely crafted wine with a firm tannic finish.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

de Gueules 2004 La Bolida LabelChâteau d'Or et de Gueules 2004 La Bolida Costières de Nímes ($39) 92

La Bolida is the prestige cuvee of this Château, made of 90% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah from vineyards in the Camargue. Dark ruby-garnet in color with a leather and cigar box nose. Displays rich, concentrated flavors of dark berry and black cherry fruit with a vanilla note. Finishes long and rich with good tannic grip. Superb!

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

 

Château d'Or et de Gueules 2003 Select Rouge Costières de Nímes ($15) 90

This medium ruby, 50% Syrah, 25% Carignan, and 25% Grenache blend has a meaty nose accented by cigar box aromas. Of medium concentration and vaunting spice, earth, leather, and meaty characteristics on the ripe palate complemented by round, ripe tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Château de Ségriès 2005 Lirac Cuvée Réserve Côtes du Rhône ($15) 90

A medium ruby wine revealing a fruity, plum nose with strawberry and vanilla notes. Exhibits an integrated flavor profile of lively fresh and softly textured plum fruit. Nice gripping tannins show on the finish. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Château de Surville 2004 Costières de Nímes ($17) 89

An opaque purple wine sourced from Syrah (70%) and Grenache (30%) fruit grown on the western edge of the Rhône River. Offers a complex bouquet of plum, smoked meat, and creosote and a rich attack of deliciously pure dark berry fruit and notes of licorice and loam. Nicely balanced with firm, mouth coating tannins that should soften nicely with a little more time in bottle.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Valcombe 2005 Prestige LabelChâteau de Valcombe 2005 Prestige Costières de Nímes ($17) 88

This cuvée is an opaque ruby blend of 70% Syrah, and 30% Grenache which is aged one year in oak barrels. It flaunts showy violet and exotic dark fruit on the nose with flavors of black plum fruit and notes of earth and cigar box and has slightly dry light tannins on the finish. This wine will show even better with a few years of bottle age.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

 

Château de Valcombe 2004 Tradition Costières de Nímes ($13) 89

This opaque blend of 70% old vine Syrah, and 30% Grenache is fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the grapes’ lively, fresh fruit flavors. It reveals a nose of sandalwood, Asian spice, leather, and black fruit with high-toned flavors of licorice, black plum, black cherries and spice. It is nicely balanced and still young with firm, gripping tannins. Superb value!

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Château Grande Cassagne 2005 “G.S.” Costières de Nímes AOC ($12) 91

A blend of tank-fermented 60 year old Grenache and 40 year old cask-aged Syrah, this opaque garnet wine displays aromas of plum and blueberry compote with a touch of toasty cedar. The attack is lush rich, ripe dark red fruit with smoked meat and cedar notes. Mouth filling, delicious, and excellent value!

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Château Grande Cassagne 2005 Hippolyte Blanc Costières de Nímes ($15) 90

A 80/20 blend of Roussanne and very old vine Grenache Blanc, starbright gold in color, and fermented in small new barrels. Evinces vvery ripe tropical fruit aromas with waxy petrol and faint caramel notes. Super ripe on the palate showing ripe peach and apricot fruit with brisk acidity and a long lasting finish.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Château Grande Cassagne 2004 Hippolyte Rouge Costières de Nímes ($17) 90

A dark ruby mix of 95% 40+ year old Syrah and 5% Mourvedre aged twelve months in barrel. Displays very ripe, fruit rich and meaty aromas. The attack is soft and lush with flavors of concentrated, ripe dark plum and espresso notes. Big gripping, ripe tannins make this one a keeper.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas de Guiot 2004 Alex Costières de Nímes ($24) 89

This 55% Syrah, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon wine is opaque ruby color with a dense, inky nose of ripe, concentrated black fruit with accents of smoked meat, wet saddle leather, and creosote. The medium-bodied, soft attack of rich, black fruit is complemented by soft tannins and a lasting finish.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas de Guiot 2004 Numa LabelMas de Guiot 2004 Numa Costières de Nímes ($24) 89

An opaque, 100% old vine (50+ years) Syrah aged in new oak for one year. Flaunts a dense, dark nose with prominent notes of meat, creosote, and garrigue. This wine falls in the blockbuster category with gobs of extracted blackberry fruit on the full bodied palate, with a blueberry accent. Soft, lush and mouth-filling with ripe tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Château Lamargue 2006 Costières de Nîmes ($11) 88

Pale lemon in color, this mix of 50% Rousanne and 50% Grenache Blanc evinces lovely floral, honeysuckle aromas. Round in the mouth with a delicately flavored mélange of sweet, ripe stone fruit and finishing ripe and dry.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY

Château Lamargue 2005 "Rouge" Costières de Nîmes ($11) 89

This is a medium ruby garnet colored blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre. Fresh aromas of fresh black cherries and plums give way to a lush, fruit-forward but firm attack of dark red fruit with toasty notes. Nicely balanced with a nice long finish. An excellent food wine.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY

Castelmaure Col de Vents 2005 Corbières ($ 12) 87

Produced by the 85 member Castelmaure cooperative, this medium ruby garnet colored blend of 50% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 15% Syrah possesses a nice sweet, black cherry nose. The attack is soft with bright, fresh tasty fruit and herbal notes. Soft, round tannins complement the fruit, making this wine very approachable now.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2006 Aussieres Blanc Vin de Pays d’Oc ($ 17) 87

The Château d’Aussieres is located in the Corbières microclimate. This 100% Chardonnay is medium gold color with ripe tropical passion fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s very soft with light to medium body and low acidity with tropical pineapple flavors framed in lightly charred oak.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

Rothschild A labelDomaines Barons de Rothschild 2004 “A” d’Aussieres Corbières ($21) 91

A medium ruby colored blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 20% Carignan. Possesses a ripe plum nose with a touch of oak spice and a very soft, pretty attack of ripe plum fruit and light oak spice. This ready to drink, excellent value wine enjoys a lush texture with an elegant purity of fruit and beautifully rounded tannins. Drink now.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

 

Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2004 Château d’Aussières Corbières ($35) 93

This dark ruby blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Grenache is saturated with very ripe dark, juicy fruit accented by earth and violet notes. On the palate, concentrated dark fruit—black plum with notes of blackberry compote--and warm oak provide a rich, sensuous impression in a very modern style.

Importer : Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2006 Aussières Rouge Languedoc Vin de Pays d’Oc ($17) 88

Medium ruby in color, this 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Merlot is made for early drinking in a forthright, fruit forward style. There’s fresh plum fruit on nose and a mélange of red fruit on the palate, complemented by ripe but still young tannins.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

Domaine Calage Resseguier 2004 Laurus Nobilis Coteaux du Languedoc ($ 19) 87

This medium ruby colored, unoaked blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault is aged 9 months in tanks. Displays fresh, fruit forward aromas of plum with rustic notes. The attack of this medium-bodied, nicely balanced wine is soft with light plum fruit flavors. A solid, honest wine and good value, too

Importer: Bodega Bodega, McLean, VA

Domaine Calage Resseguier 2003 Rosmarinus Coteaux du Languedoc ($ 34) 91

A blend of 75% Syrah, 15% Grenache, and 10 % Carignan aged 12 months in French oak, this dark ruby wine proffers an exotic ripe, black plum nose of concentrated fruit, smoked bacon and garrigue with a creosote note. Soft and seamless on the palate with lovely, dense flavors of dark fruit, meat, and mocha all complemented by ripe, round tannins.

Importer: Bodega Bodega, McLean, VA

Domaine de Cantarelles 2004 Cabernet Syrah Vin de Pays du Gard ($17) 87

A dark ruby blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 60% Syrah aged in American and French oak for about 12 months. Gives off dark cherry and smoke aromas with mint and violet notes. Soft, cherry fruit with an herbal accent is present on the palate. Finishes nicely with firm tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Domaine de Cantarelles 2005 Cabernet-Sauvignon Vins de Pays du Gard ($18) 90

This dark ruby Cabernet Sauvignon emits aromas of leather and mushroom and presents a fruity attack with flavors of black currant, pencil shavings, and violets with earth notes and finishes with gripping tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Domaine de Cantarelles 2006 Viognier Vin de Pays du Gard ($18) 87

The low yield Viognier fruit used for this wine is grown in cailloux soil vineyards that were formerly part of the Rhône River delta. 60% of the wine is aged four months in new oak and 40% is aged in stainless steel prior to bottling. The wine is medium gold color with ripe tropical passion fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light bodied, very soft and dry with low acidity.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Domaine de la Petite Cassagne 2006 Blanc Costières de Nímes ($12) 88

This lovely, star bright medium gold wine is made of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Rolle (Vermentino). It displays sweet floral aromas with a prominent petrol note and presents a firm attack of dry mineral and bright citrus flavors with a lasting fresh finish. The high acidity of this wine makes it a perfect complement for fish and chips.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Domaine de la Petite Cassagne 2004 Rouge LabelDomaine de la Petite Cassagne 2004 Rouge Costières de Nímes ($14) 90

A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and old-vine Carignan from organically farmed vineyards. This interesting, complex wine Aromas of rich plum, earth, leather emanate from the glass. This interesting, complex wine is full and rich on the palate with flavors of spicy black fruit and smoked meat with cigar box notes. Finishes long with firm but round tannins. Excellent value.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Ey 2004 Vigne Las Collas Grenache Vin de Pays du Gard ($ 13 ) 86

This medium-bodied Grenache-based wine is medium dark ruby in color with aromas of herbal spice. The attack is honest with a touch of rusticity, evoking bright fresh Grenache fruit. An uncomplicated wine for everyday drinking.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY

Grande Veneur 2005 Réserve Côtes du Rhône ($ 13) 87

Very ripe aromas of dark plum, garrigue, and violet erupt from this medium dark ruby blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. There’s up front cherry and berry fruit and sweet spice on the soft, lush palate. This easy to drink wine has enough grip to handle a good American hamburger.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Hughes Beaulieu 2007 Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc ($9) 88

Light gold in color, this lovely wine made of Picpoul Blanc, a grape indigenous to the Languedoc, offers clean aromas of lemon and lime with some floral and honey notes. On the palate it displays a steely and crisp character with good acidity and lots of citrus and minerals. It is a perfect wine for seafood of all kinds. Have it with your next cold shrimps, scallops or other shellfish.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Jean-Luc Colombo 2006 La Redonne Côtes du Rhône ($17) 89

This lovely blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Roussane displays a pale lemon gold color with spicy ripe peach aromas. On the attack it offers a rich mouthfeel soft ripe peach fruit medium acidity, excellent balance and overall refinement.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles LabelJean-Luc Colombo 2005 Les Abeilles Côtes du Rhône ($ 12) 88

This medium ruby Côtes du Rhône shows fresh, fruity aromas of plum, raspberry, and violets and an uncomplicated palate of fresh soft, red and black fruit. There’s purity of fruit in a nicely balanced, modern styled wine that finishes long and fruity.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY

 

Jean-Luc Colombo 2004 Les Forots Côtes du Rhône ($21) 90

This modern style, dark ruby wine of 100% Syrah is aged 9 months in oak and possesses an alluring nose of concentrated plum fruit with garrigue and oak spice. There’s a good concentration of ripe—but not overripe--fruit on the nicely balanced palate along with blueberry, garrigue, and integrated oak spice notes. This is a beautiful wine that has improved since its first release.

Importer: Palm Bay International, Port Washington, NY.

Jean-Luc Colombo 2005 Les Fees Brunes Crozes Hermitage ($26 ) 89

This is a medium ruby colored, 100% Syrah wine showing ripe, warm perfumed aromas of dark plum and vanilla with violet notes. Highly extracted but elegant on the palate, it attacks with concentrated red and black fruit and good gripping tannins.

Importer: Palm Bay International , Port Washington, NY

Laurent Miquel 2006 Nord Sud Viognier Languedoc ($13) 89

Pale lemon in color, this Viognier exudes spicy ripe peach aromas. In the mouth, the medium acid attack is rich and refined with soft flavors of ripe peach fruit. Delicious.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Les Hauts de la Brune 2005 Coteaux de Languedoc ($ 13 ) 88

A medium-bodied wine of dark garnet color with a dark cherry and cigar box nose. Shows a soft, lush attack up front of ripe dark cherry fruit and soft tannins.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, VA

Les Vignerons de la Méditerranée 2006 Les Deux Rives Rouge Corbières ($11) 86

This medium ruby blend of 40% Grenache , 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan has a nose of red plum with a note of licorice, a soft, light attack of plum fruit, and a short finish. Good value.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Wine Imports

Cuvee Mythique LabelLes Vignerons de la Méditerranée 2005 Cuvee Mythique Réserve Corbières ($21) 89

A medium dark garnet blend of 35% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, and 10% Carignan 10%. Exhibits a fresh dark plum and garrigue nose followed by a fresh and fruity attack of plum and spice. Nicely balanced with a silky texture.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Wine Imports

 

Les Vignerons de la Méditerranée 2003 Cuvee Mythique Limited Release Corbières ($42) 87

This medium-garnet colored blend of 55% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 15% Mourvedre exudes herbal aromas of thyme, mint, dill and box spice. The soft attack is of spicy dark plum fruit accented by garrigue with quite dry tannins Importer : Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Wine Imports

Mas Carlot 2005 Cuvee Tradition Vin de Pays d'Oc ($18) 88

A medium dark ruby, medium bodied blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache exuding leather and black fruit aromas. Shows red fruit and leather on the palate with a soft finish.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas Carlot 2004 Cabernet Syrah Vin de Pays d'Oc ($18) 88

A dark ruby blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah showing leather and cherry fruit on the nose. Exhibits a soft attack of medium-light cherry fruit with smoky notes and gripping tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas Carlot 2006 Cuvee Tradition Vin de Pays d'Oc ($13) 85

This 70% Marsanne, 30% Roussane blend is medium lemon gold in color with a super ripe, slightly oxidized nose. The mouth feel is rich and ripe with a somewhat astringent finish.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas de Guiot 2005 Cabernet Syrah Vin de Pays du Gard ($18) 89

A dark ruby, medium-bodied blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah sourced in Costières de Nímes and aged up to one year in barrel and bottled unfiltered. Presents aromas of leather, dark plum, and herbs and possesses a soft, rich attack of ripe concentrated dark plum, toasty oak, and leather with a blueberry note, all complemented by soft tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas de Guiot 2005 Grenache-Syrah Vin de Pays du Gard ($12) 88

Here’s an easy drinking, medium dark ruby wine comprised of 40% Grenache and 60% Syrah. The rustic bouquet of wet leather, plum, and grilled meat gives way to a soft palate of fruity, dark plum and gentle tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC

Mas de la Dame 2005 La Gourmande Les Baux de Provence ($16) 88+

This 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah is sourced from organic vineyards (agriculture biologique). Medium ruby in color, it evokes whole cluster aromas of fresh, fruity raspberry and plum and follows through on the palate with a soft attack of straightforward, fresh red fruit flavors, firm tannins, and a pleasing finish. Importer : Palm Bay International , Port Washington, NY

Mas des Bressades 2006 Syrah-Grenache Vin de Pays du Gard ($15) 87

This medium dark ruby, unoaked 50/50 Syrah and Grenache blend reveals a fruity plum nose and a fruit forward palate of black cherry plum with fresh, ripe whole cluster fruit flavors. This is a very approachable wine that would nicely complement many poultry and pork dishes.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC.

Mas des Bressades 2005 Cabernet-Syrah Vin de Pays du Gard ($20) 88

This dark ruby, medium-bodied wine is produced from low yield old vines (65+ years) Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and 30+ year old Syrah (30% ). Aromas of leather, garrigue, and dark fruit provide an enticing first impression, followed by a soft, concentrated palate of black fruit with a hint of licorice and good, gripping tannins.

Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C.

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