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
Full deep ruby, this wine opens with a nuanced, almost liqueur-like bouquet of blueberry, violets, and a hint of wood-smoke. On the palate, well-concentrated but also light on its feet (a neat trick for any wine), with a floral, almost plummy display of red fruit flavors. These initial, fruit-driven flavors are deepened by darker, penetrating, Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like notes of minerals and herbs from the 10% Mourvèdre component. (The rest of the blend is 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault.) Offering a near-Châteauneuf-du-Pape authority and complexity of flavor at a Côtes-du-Rhône price, this wine is a super bargain. Although ready to drink now, this wine offers an aging potential of 2 to 4 years. --Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education
"Vivid ruby. Black and blue fruits on the highly perfumed nose. Spicy, focused and gently sweet, offering deep blueberry and cherry flavors that pick up a floral nuance with air. Closes spicy and long, with excellent clarity and sneaky tannins." --90 pts, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
"Fruit-driven, this is packed with flavors of lush boysenberry, plum sauce and blackberry preserves, with ample drive and cut. Hints of hoisin sauce and anise add definition on the slightly toasty finish. Drink now through 2014. 3,500 cases made.” --89 pts, Wine Spectator
The dark crimson 2010 Clos de Sixte is a classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape-type blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre, aged for 14 months in 35% new oak barrels. Opens with a warm, ripe, perfumed bouquet of black cherry fruit and wild violets. On the palate, luminously fluid and supple, with bouncy, spicy blackberry and dark fruit notes seasoned by spice. Marvelously detailed finish of subtle minerality and warm, well resolved tannins.
Made from 100% certified organic grapes, predominantly Grenache with a little Syrah, the 2009 La Grand Ribe Cotes du Rhone Villages Centenaire comes from a conscientiously tended small estate in the southern Rhône village of Sainte-Cecile des Vignes. Led by prominent organic (and biodynamic) growers such as Château de Beaucastel and Chapoutier, the Rhône has been in the forefront of the organic movement, not simply for health and environmental reasons, but because these methods produced better-tasting wines. Centenaire, La Grand Ribe’s premium tier Cotes du Rhone Villages, has received a rave 91-93 point review from Robert Parker.