When I chatted with winemaker Christophe Jaume at the winery’s introductory tasting earlier this year, he could scarcely contain his enthusiasm for the 2011 vintage in general, and this 2011 Ventoux in particular. His explained that Les Gelinottes vineyard’s ideal exposure was a unique bonus, due to the extra sun received in late August early September. The additional solar energy pumped up the already ripe, juicy fruit, and helped build a fine structure of soft tannins. Made from 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah planted on clay and sandy soils, this wine offer notes of crushed blackberry, baked blueberry and garrigue, with hints of toast and earth rising at the finish. This fresh, medium-bodied Rhone should be enjoyed now, and over the next 18 months.
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, 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
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.