Although there are subtle differences between the terroir of Menetou-Salon, an up-and-coming region in central Loire, and that of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé to its east, all three regions offer a unique and distinctive take on the expressive Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. In this classic, cool season Loire year, this well-made Assadet Menetou-Salon rings with the freshness and vibrant acidity of the vintage.
Under their negociant line of wines (called Alain Jaume), the 2010 Vacqueyras Grande Garrigue is a classic Vacqueyras with lots of dense, concentrated, black cherry and plum fruit intermixed with hints of garrigue and licorice, a full-bodied mouthfeel. Under their negociant line of wines (called Alain Jaume), the 2010 Vacqueyras Grande Garrigue is a classic Vacqueyras with lots of dense, concentrated, black cherry and plum fruit intermixed with hints of garrigue and licorice, a full-bodied mouthfeel.
What grabbed me was this white wine's luxuriant richness, reminiscent of an Hermitage Blanc, yet still fresh, and totally unoaked. I thought I needed a Chardonnay to make my 12 bottle case, but with this wine, I can get the best of a northern Rhône style, and the voluptuousness of a California Chardonnay, in one neat package.
This intense, full-bodied red is made by the brilliant Châteauneuf du Pape producer Andre Brunel, from family owned vineyards in the village of Tavaillan. The 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages Cuvée Sabrine, which is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre, has just what it takes to stand up to the rigors of summer BBQ fare. It is loaded with meaty notes of blueberry, blackberry and smoke/tobacco leaf, interlaced with hints of cherry confit, a telltale component of ripe Grenache. With so much forward fruit, it can also be enjoyed lightly chilled on the deck or patio.
Arnoux Père's "White Label" Vacqueyras "Seigneur de Lauris," a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, sees new oak, and offers excellent structure and aging potential.
No matter how grand or small, every wine cellar needs a few outright crowd-pleasers. This is the one to bring out when mixed company arrives (aficionados and non-aficionados), because I have yet to find anybody who does not enjoy it, myself included.
This is one of our first arrivals from the highly regarded 2010 vintage, and if the delectable style of this modestly priced petite château is any indication, wine lovers are going to be arguing for decades over which is the greater vintage, 2010 or 2009. Made from a blend of 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18% Cabernet Franc, this fruit-forward wine, from the northern part of the Entre Deux Mers appellation, is made by Jean Lobre and his two sons, whose family has owned Bellevue Rougier for four generations. Absolutely ready to drink now, this easy-drinking Bordeaux offers oodles of soft, spicy fruit, lightly seasoned by notes of red berries, Provençal herbs, and cedar. Although it has sufficient stuffing to match with main courses of meat or poultry, this wine is also delicious by itself or with light cheeses.