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.
Deep ruby-garnet in color, the 2009 Bouchard Beaune du Château opens with discreet aromas of raspberry, violets, and cinnamon/spice. Quick swirls in the glass unlock notes of ripe cherry fruit, well-integrated with subtle hints of oak. On the palate, the fruit is silky, pure, and wonderfully refined, but with a sneaky intensity of flavor that keeps growing as the wine airs. The tannins are well-integrated, supple, and harmonious, but with considerable grip as well. Immensely enjoyable now for its pure, graceful Pinot Noir fruit, this wine offers at least 7 to 10 years of aging potential.
No matter how grand or small, every wine cellar needs a few outright crowd-pleasers, and the 2012 Calandray fills the bill to perfection. When mixed company arrives (aficionados and non-aficionados, that is), this is the wine to bring out, as I have yet to find anybody who can resist this modestly-priced red's supple, fruity charms, myself included. It is produced by the Cave Cooperative of Maury, rated by wine critic Robert Parker as "one of the best cooperative wineries in the South of France." For this wine, the Maury coop, famous for making the sweet Maury doux, has collaborated with Jean-Luc Thunevin, the father of the Bordeaux garagiste movement (devoted to the production of highly distinctive small production red wines). This dry, medium-bodied red offers oodles of bing cherry/strawberry fruit, nuanced by notes of fresh ground pepper, new earth, and smoke, with just the barest suggestion of sweet, ripe plums on the finish. Ready to enjoy now with red meats, grilled poultry, BBQ, and pasta. --Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education