Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rascal Redux - Rascal Oregon Pinot Noir Non-Vintage

I've written up this incredible little bargain in the past and thought it might be a good time to taste the current release. Pinot Noir is still selling briskly in general and at Nomad Pizza in Philly, where I consult. Our customers love Pinot Noir, even if it isn't the best match for Tom and Stalin's incredible Calabrian pizza. Well, everyone gets to drink what they like I guess.

I've always liked Oregon Pinot in general. It's a cooler wine climate than Napa, Sonoma or points south, and thus it produces more delicate, balanced versions for the most part. This is a gross generalization of course, but you get the idea. I don't like the sweeter, more extracted versions that are so prevalent in the marketplace. Pinot Noir should be translucent in color with alcohol levels in the moderate range. Once you start getting to 14% and beyond, Pinot ceases being Pinot for me.

This incredible $9.99 bargain has all the good Pinot Noir aromas and flavors you expect - the bright raspberry and cherry, the brown spice notes and some floral nuance as well. This is the most balanced, most pleasing everyday Pinot Noir I've ever had. It's from the Great Oregon Wine Company by way of Stone Wolf Vineyards - who might just have the least informative wine website I've ever seen. An email to the winery seeking some additional info on this wine went unanswered. Oh well, the juice in the Rascal bottle definitely makes up for that. Cheers.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter White - Argillae Orvieto 2013

The temperatures may be quite frosty here in the northeast but if I'm eating a pan fried delicate fish like flounder, I'm still gonna want a white wine. I'm big on Italian whites these days. There's such incredible variety and value in Italy's biancos that it's a shame that most consumers won't take a chance with some of the great offerings in the everyday price points. There is so much enjoyment to be had beyond Pinot Grigio.

Our trip to Italy last spring turned me on to the beauty of Orvieto's wines. It's a DOC that is Umbria's biggest yet it used to produce mostly dull, uninteresting juice. But now the so-called world-wide quality revolution has obviously touched this little corner of the the globe also. Argillae is a producer repped by one of my favorite importers, Vias. Vias is one of those companies that seems to have no weak spots in the portfolio. There's quality up and down the line. So when I turn a bottle to the back label and see Vias' name, I have no doubt that the wine will be good.

Grechetto and Trebbiano are the main grapes of Orvieto and must account for at least 60% of the blend. Malvasia and Canaiolo Biano will usually make up the balance but in this case there's Sauvignon Blanc and some Chardonnay in the blend also. Now as an Italy purist, I generally eschew international varietals in my Italian wine, but the Argillae Orvieto is so tasty I had to climb down off of my high horse. This $11.99 beauty, which is fermented in stainless steel, has prominent pear and peach aromas along with floral notes and a nutty nuance that comes from a bit of aging on the lees (dead yeast cells). The orchard fruit flavors repeat boldly on the generous mid-palate, but there's bright, crisp acidity on the back end giving this wine lift. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Zintastic - Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2012

When the wife and I were first bitten by the wine bug, Zinfandel was a big part of our wine life. It's that way for a lot of neophytes even now, and back then there weren't a lot of wines that delivered the bold fruit and lush palate that zins did. Robert Parker often spoke of the three R's of Zinfandel - Ridge, Ravenswood and Rosenblum. I bought and cellared bottlings from all three, especially Ridge's Geyserville and Lytton Springs bottlings and Ravenswood's single vineyard bottlings. I also was high on Storybook Mountain, although their wines were leaner and less flattering in their youth.

Then came the 90's. My tastes evolved and my interests went elsewhere at the same time that many Zinfandel's were being bottled with ridiculously high alcohol levels in the 16 -17% range. Those examples drank more like port than a good table wine to be enjoyed with your dinner. It seemed the critics were more enamored of "concentration" than they were of balance, and those thicker zins were born of ever higher scores for highly concentrated wines from the experts.

Zinfandel has always been considered our one uniquely American grape, although in truth it is related to a Croatian varietal called Crijenak Kastelanski and to Italy's Primitivo. Clippings of one or the other were probably brought here in the 19th century.

Luckily, the wine pendulum has begun to swing back toward the production of more balanced wines, Zinfandel included. That excites me, for I still have a soft spot for the grape that was my first love. So, I went looking for one to try in the everyday price point that I inhabit. One thing I hate about everyday wine from California these days is the ever vague "California" designation of origin. California's Wine Institute lists 8 full pages of legal AVA's - or American Viticultural Areas. "California" is not on the list. A wine with the origin "California" tells me practically nothing about its pedigree. In fact, those wines may have been produced partially with grapes from the vast central valley, where the melons and tomatoes come from. No thanks.

So when I spied Rancho Zabaco's Sonoma "Heritage Vines" bottling at my local store for $15, I pounced. Most of the grapes for this bottling come from three well known Sonoma vineyards: Frei Ranch, Stefani Ranch and Chiotti Ranch. In truth, this wine is pretty high in alcohol. The winery's website says 14.8% and the bottle says 15.3% so it must be somewhere in that range. But, despite the fairly high alcohol, this wine doesn't smell or taste hot, in fact it's nicely balanced. It's got typical Zinfandel blackberry and blueberry aromas with notes of peppery spice, a lush, velvety mouth feel and bold berryish flavors. There's nothing baked about this wine at all and it finishes long and smooth. This lovely everyday zin is produced from 93% Zinfandel and 7% Petite Sirah. It paired wonderfully with some pasta and a good Bolognese. Cheers.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Animals in the Vineyard - Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas

Tablas Creek is a winery I have seen much written about in very positive terms over the years but I have never had the opportunity to try any of their wines. They are one of the so-called "Rhone Rangers" of California, producing wines from grapes that are common in the Rhone Valley of southern France. Tablas Creek was started as a joint venture between the Perrin family of Chateauneuf du Pape super star Chateau de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, the owner of Vineyard Brands, which imports the famous winery. Tablas Creek is a winery I don't see much here in New Jersey, probably because most consumers do not step outside of their Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir comfort zone very often - and usually not until someone puts something unusual in their hands. This makes wines like this a tough sell where there isn't knowledgeable staff on hand to promote it.

What led me to Tablas Creek though wasn't the burning desire to sample their wines, for in truth, they've never been at the forefront of my wine consciousness due to their lack of exposure. What got me on this kick was a tweet that someone in my feed put out there with a link to Tablas Creek's blog and a post mentioning Cline Cellars' use of Donkeys in their vineyard. A little investigation revealed that Tablas Creek also had a vineyard herd. We're animal friendly here in the rural western central part of Jersey and in fact we have a few of our own so this was fascinating to me. I emailed one of the viticulturists at Tablas Creek, Levi Glenn, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

A few years ago Tablas Creek began farming parts of their vineyards biodynamically, which strives to create a balanced farm ecosystem and thus generate health and fertility in the soil. The use of animals in the vineyard is part of that equation. As the herd eats the grass and weeds between the vines they fertilize the soil and help produce a natural balance that let's Tablas Creek keep their vineyards free of herbicides and pesticides. The herd consists of 60 sheep, a ram, 2 donkeys, 4 alpacas, and 1 llama. They also have two mobile chicken coops, each with 15-20 hens. The hens not only fertilize the soil but they eat bugs as well. The donkeys, alpacas and llama are there partly as protection for the sheep and chickens. Because they are an unfamiliar part of the local, natural environment, they keep the coyotes away. The Tablas Creek herd is in the vineyards from November through March and kept out during the growing season. They are outside 95% of the time and only brought in for events or when the ewes have given birth and the weather is foul.

Photograph courtesy of Tablas Creek Winery

I ordered one of each of Tablas Creek's entry level wines from my local store - the Patelin de Tablas 2011 and the Patelin de Tablas Blanc 2012. They are both produced with a blend of Rhone varietals from the Tablas Creek vineyards and from purchased fruit. The red is produced with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre and the white with Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. I really wanted to love these wines but I have to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. They're not bad, they're just okay - and I was expecting more. The white's somewhat stunted aromatics offered some white peach notes. There was good texture in the mouth but I kept wishing that there was more fruit. The red was better with nice light red berry aromatics and soft cherry and raspberry flavors but not much in the way of secondary elements. Tablas Creek deserves kudos for their environmentally sound farming practices and I'm sure that their upper echelon wines deserve all the great reviews that they receive. I'd just like to see them do more with their entry level red and white. Cheers.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Where's the Beef? Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2012

I wrote up the Varner Winery's wonderful unoaked entry level Foxglove Chardonnay a couple of years ago in part because of an encounter with a customer over the 2010. I was moonlighting at my local discount store when this customer asked if there any '09 Foxglove Chards left. The '09 had been given a 90 point score by Robert Parker but the '10s were the current vintage. The '10s were were just as good as the 09's, they just hadn't been reviewed yet. No matter how hard I tried to convince this guy that the '10s were delish, he wouldn't bite. It's laughable. Do you really need to buy by the numbers when we're talking about a $15 wine? Plus you have to have some trust that a good producer like Varner is going to produce a quality wine every year, especially in California where extreme vintage variation is rare.

Well when I scored some local grass fed short ribs of beef from our friends the Hubners at Beechtree Farm, I went looking for a everyday Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with them. Cali Cabs in the 7-15 dollar range can often have very little in the way of classic Cabernet flavor. They are often overly soft fruit bombs that taste more like Zinfandel than Cab. Sometimes the Cabernet characteristics are lost because of too much hang time in the vineyard or too much wood in the cellar. When I spied the Foxglove on the shelf for $12.99 I figured it was time to revisit the Varner Winery's entry level offerings.

The Paso Robles AVA is a fairly southern viticultural zone only about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. Vineyards range in altitude from 700 to 2400 ft. and temperatures can get pretty high in the summer, though some areas benefit from cooling ocean breezes at night that slow ripening. The Foxglove Cabernet comes in at very balanced 13.7% alcohol and has all the aromas and flavors you expect from quality cab. It's produced with 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The nose has lots of black raspberry and plummy fruit with typical Cabernet supporting notes of cedar, graphite and herbs. It's fairly full bodied and juicy in the mouth with bold fruit, brown spices and lingering graphite notes. It finishes long and lightly tannic. This beauty is an excellent value and it stood up to the short ribs easily for a wonderful Saturday night meal.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sicily Rising - Firriato Etna Rosso 2011

There's a lot of awareness about Sicilian wines these days, as evidenced by the publication of a big feature in the Spectator recently. In addition, I'm seeing more and more entries from the island on my retailer's shelves as consumers expand their search for good quality everyday wines. There's a lot to like in this region's wines as they usually represent excellent values - from the more fruit forward bottlings from the warmer areas to the more complex and minerally examples from the slopes of Mt. Etna. I've been buying wines from Tasca d'Almerita, di Giovanna, Planeta and Tenuta delle Terre Nere for a long time, the latter of which is owned by the influential importer Marc de Grazia. But when I spotted for the first time the Firriato Etna Rosso in my local shop, I eagerly grabbed one to sample.

Firriato's website touts that all of it's vineyard holdings are now certified organic yet for some reason, this basic bottling isn't listed anywhere. It's possible that this wine is bottled exclusively for the American importer. No matter, this a good example of what kind of flavor and structure a wine born of Mt. Etna hillside fruit can produce, even at the $15 price point. 2011 was a very good vintage in Sicily and you might expect a fairly lush, fruit forward wine from this generally hot climate zone. However that's generally not the case with wines from the Etna DOC, where vine altitudes can reach 3000 ft. Wines from vines planted up the side of this famous and still active volcano often are leaner in style while bringing more aromatic complexity to the table. Such is the case with this bottling as well.

This wine has beautiful aromatics featuring a distinct stony minerality in the nose with bright cherry fruit and herbal notes. It's got a fairly angular flavor profile with the sour cherry and raspberry fruit supported by earth and spice notes. It finishes long with zingy acidity. This wine is what some might call a "food wine" and in truth, the big fruit crowd might find it a bit too bright. But this wine is right in my wheelhouse and in a certain sense isn't all wine "food wine"? It drinks a little like a good but more structured entry level Burgundy and is produced from 50% Nerello Mascalese and 50% Nerello Cappuccio. Nerello Mascalese, one of the most important Sicilian grapes, is a late ripening varietal that needs hang time for the tannins to mature while the Nerello Cappuccio lends softer tannins and darker, less acidic juice to the blend. This beauty paired perfectly with a locally raised lamb shank with a lemon parsley gremolata. It's imported by Soilair Selections of New York, yet another wonderful small importer we have here on the right coast. On a side note, Ian d'Agata's exhaustive Italian grape encyclopedia called "Native Wine Grapes of Italy", is an amazingly instructive reference tool which will certainly be aiding me in my never ending wine journey, just as it did for this post.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lost Lands - Barbi Orvieto Classico "Abboccato" 2012

Orvieto is an Italian DOC that I pretty much gave up on years ago. The wines were frequently disappointing, with thin, vapid textures and dull, uninteresting fruit. Then this past May, we spent a week in a beautiful restored farmhouse in the Orvieto zone, about a half hour from the incredible hilltop city of the same name. Our hosts provided us with 6 bottles of the local juice that they had bottled for them by a local winery. Well after almost 24 hours of travel, I can't tell you how good that local white tasted. At first I thought it was the location effect - that being in a special place will make everything taste great. But a couple of days later, that wine tasted just as good as it did that first night.

 The view from Orvieto looking northwest

So when we returned home, I went looking for some Orvietos to see if the quality revolution had indeed influenced this Italian region as well. The Orvieto DOC straddles Umbria and Lazio and has a Classico zone centered around the hilltop city and the terrain to the east. The soils that are comprised of compacted volcanic ash and bedrock contribute to the mineral nuances in the aromas and flavors that some of these wines express. The main grapes are Grechetto and Trebbiano, which together must make up at least 60% of the blend.

The Barbi 2012 Abboccato is a blend of 40% Grechetto, 30% Procanico (which is another name for the local Trebbiano), and the rest Drupeggio, Malvasia and Verdello. The "Abbaccato" on the label actually means that this is a demi-sec or off-dry wine with approximately 11 grams of residual sugar per liter. It sure didn't taste that way. It's got beautiful ripe pear and peach aromas, lots of lush, sweet fruit in the middle that feature those same orchard fruits as well as secondary notes of orange peel, almond and minerals. The zingy acidity on the back end enables this great little wine to drink more like a dry white than the off-dry designation would lead you to believe. Fermented entirely in stainless, this surprising little gem cost me a mere $9.99. Imported by Omniwines, NY.

There are some folks out there on the web that claim that there are no wines selling for under $20 that are any good. I couldn't possibly disagree any more and this awesome little wine is just one more piece of evidence to the contrary. Cheers!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Beauty of Carmenere - Casa Silva Cuvee Colchagua 2012

I'm becoming more and more a fan of Carmenere. Every bottle I open seems to up the ante on the amount of complexity that this grape can achieve, even at the everyday price points. Carmenere has a traveler's story of course having been brought to Chile from the vineyards of Bordeaux many moons ago. As it turns out, Carmenere was especially sensitive to Phylloxera when the vine louse destroyed much of the vines in Europe. Add to that the fact that Carmenere doesn't graft easily, so when European wines were grafted to the more Phylloxera resistant American rootstock, Carmenere lost favor with the Bordelais. Chilean vintners had taken Carmenere cuttings back home prior to that 19th century Phylloxera outbreak, so it was there that the grape found it's new, permanent home.

Given that history of the grape, it's no wonder that the family that owns Casa Silva has been around since 1892. Although they have been making wine since then, they only recently launched their own Casa Silva label in 1997. Carmenere is a grape that presents similar aroma and flavor profiles as Cabernet Sauvignon, which would explain why it was once important in Bordeaux. The entry level Carmenere from Casa Silva bears the "Cuvee Colchagua" designation and it cost me a mere $13.99. Like Cab Sauv, you're greeted with very earthy, herbaceous aromas that give way to dark berry fruit. There's a bit of alcoholic heat as well. In the mouth the blackberry and plummy fruit flavors take the lead and are supported by the earthy and mineral notes. It's really a wonderful wine for the price. Most bottles at this price point don't give you anywhere near this amount of complexity. This wine is produced from vineyards at 1,000 ft. of altitude and 50% spends 8 months in barrel prior to bottling. Only 5,000 cases were produced. Imported by South America specialist Vine Connections, this Carmenere is an everyday winner and will go beautifully with burgers or a grilled steak. Bottoms up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Malbec Musing - Agua de Piedra Malbec Gran Seleccion 2013

At both Nomad Pizzas in Philly, the Malbec we pour by the glass for $8 far outsells all the other pours except for the Montepulciano. People love Malbec for the same reason they love other new world everyday quaffers. It's usually got lots of soft, sweet fruit in the middle and a very smooth finish, unfettered by any noticeable tannic structure. Of course, for the most part there's not much complexity, but most folks don't care about that when they're washing down Nomad's delicious spicy sopressata pizza drizzled with honey.

Well, I decided to put down the Cotes du Rhone and the Montepulcianos, get off my old world soap box, and dive into another Malbec I'd been eyeballing at my local store. The Aqua de Piedra Malbec Gran Seleccion presents itself with an attractive package that features a really heavy bottle-the kind that might normally hold a high end cab. It's a little odd for a $10.99 wine but hey, bottle weight notwithstanding it's what is inside that counts right? Interestingly, a not so scientific study done by a wine shop in England a couple of years ago and reported by the Academic Wino concluded that, among other things, consumers associated bottle weight with quality of wine. I can certainly see that being the case. The Aqua de Piedra bottle comes in at a touch over three pounds while most wine bottles weigh around two pounds.

The Aqua de Piedra is an import of Monsieur Touton, a very large importer/distributor here on the east coast. It's produced exclusively for them by Mendoza Vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina. The winemaker Richard Bonvin was kind enough to get back to me via twitter on that subject.  Mendoza does not own any vineyards but sources grapes from various different growers. The bottle claims that the grapes for this tasty red comes from very old vines grown at very high altitudes. It also sees about 6 months in oak prior to bottling. For lovers of new world fruit this wine is a winner, and for old world fans, there is some uncommon complexity here. The dark purple color gives way to plummy aromas supported with some appealing spice, earth and mineral notes. It's fairly full in the mouth, with round, supple dark berry and plum flavors, and a very soft pleasing finish. A retailer friend told me that as soon as a container of this comes in, it sells out very quickly. For $10.99, this nice little Malbec is an excellent value. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pieropan and the Beauty of Soave

It's been awhile since my last post, which I'll gladly blame on circumstances beyond my control. However, we did find the time for a trip to Italy, which as any trip to Italy should, found us taking a few days at some really wonderful wineries. Tom Hyland is one of my favorite wine writers, and his 2011 blog post about the wines of Soave totally turned my head around with regards to these wines. They are not only delicious, even at the entry level, but at the single vineyard level they can be utterly profound, rivaling the great whites of the world. For most American consumers however, Soave is an afterthought, a quaint little white the parents of my generation drank from a bulk producer like Bolla. It gave my generation a lasting impression of Soave that wasn't very positive. And of course a lot of folks just don't know what Soave is. It often takes a trusted retailer or sommelier to get someone to try a wine from outside their comfort zone.

The quiet streets of Soave

Soave is a small, quiet, beautiful town, with the old section comprised of just two main streets. And of course there's a castle overlooking the town and the surrounding, vine covered terrain. The vines on the flats produce grapes for the basic Soave while the vines on the hills just north of town produce the Soave Classicos and the single vineyard bottlings.

Look north from Pieropan's roof, that's the 
Classico hill on the right and the hill where where 
the Calvarino Vineyard is located is 2 over from that

We visited one of the top producers in the zone, Pieropan. They have a couple of fairly new red projects, an Amarone and a Valpolicella, but I was there for the whites - their beautiful Soaves. There's three dry Soave bottlings and one dessert wine. The Classico and the Calvarino Vineyard bottling are fermented in fiberglass lined cement tamks that are built right into the wall. They both spend time in tank and on the lees, the latter for about a year, and are then bottled and aged for a bit prior to release. The La Rocca bottling is fermented in 2500 liter French oak barrels, then racked into a mixture of 2500 liter and 500 liter oak barrels where it remains on the lees for a year before being bottled.

Fermenting Tanks

2500 Liter French Oak barrels

There's a big difference in the soil that the Calvarino and La Rocca bottlings come from as well. The Calvarino Vineyard is volcanic in nature and rich in basalt while the La Rocca vineyard is from clay soils. Both sit on hillsides at 200-300 meters in altitude. According to our hosts, the clay gives the La Rocca a richer profile in general, which in turn lends it to barrel fermentation and aging. So, given the soil differences and the different treatments in the cellar, there were also big differences in the aromas and flavors of the single vineyard wines, with the La Rocca drinking more like a premier cru white Burgundy while the Calvarino was leaner and more minerally.

The lineup of Pieropan's Soaves

Garganega is the most important grape of the Soave zone. Pieropan's Classico is 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave, the Calvarino is 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave, and the La Rocca is 100% Garganega. The entry level Classico can be had for as low as $14.99 and features beautiful aromas of citrus and peach buttressed by a nutty nuance from the aging on the lees. It's juicy and bright tasting with excellent cut and acidity. The Calvarino Vineyard bottling was my favorite, with more mineral notes in the nose, along with lime zest, mint and orchard fruit. It's fruit is long and lean with obvious stoniness from the volcanic soils. This should age beautifully. The La Rocca on the other hand is completely different. The barrel aging is apparent, giving the wine a more rounded texture and more spice notes in the nose and palate. There's plenty of fruit here also but this wine has very different aspirations than the other two. They are all delicious but I definitely prefer the more true to type profile of the Classico and Calvarino bottlings. The single vineyard bottlings will cost you around $25-$30. Neil Empson, who has a wonderful portfolio, imports these amazing wines. Cheers.

Pieropan's cellar - the single vineyard wines age very well

a great day in Soave


Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Taste of the 2012 Rhones - Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone

Cotes du Rhones are my favorite everyday reds so I was very excited when the bottlings from the very heralded 2012 vintage starting showing up on retailer's shelves. 2011 wasn't a bad vintage but there were some problems during the growing season that led to some variable quality across the board. Not so with 2012. A more typical growing season has led to wines of consistently higher quality than those from 2011. It's got the fruit and balance you want from a good Southern Rhone vintage.

Chateau Beauchene is run by a family that has been in the region since the 17th century. They call this bottling their "Grande Reserve" though I don't know why you would give that label to your entry level wine. No matter, this is usually a very good everyday wine and it shines brightly in the light of a good vintage like 2012. This lovely blend is made up of 60% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 10% Carignan and 3% Cinsault from de-stemmed fruit. It spends a short 6 to 8 months in oak prior to bottling. This very nice Cotes du Rhone is translucent ruby red in color and has all the bright cherry and peppery aromas you expect from these wines. In the mouth it has smooth cherry and berryish fruit supported by floral and Provencal spice notes. It finishes with very smooth tannins and good supporting acidity, and at $10.99 it's an excellent value. This beauty is imported by Regal, a company with an excellent portfolio of small to medium sized producers. Bottoms up!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Que Syrah - Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah Viognier Non-Vintage

This is another wonderful Syrah that really gives you an idea of the complexity that this grape can achieve in the soils of Southern France. This everyday winner is a joint venture of two of the most famous families of the region, the Jaboulets of the Northern Rhone and the Perrins of the Southern Rhone and Chateau Beaucastel fame. These are multi-generational wine families who clearly know what they are doing. I wrote up another great everyday Syrah from Domaine de Chateaumar recently. It's a pleasure to have a couple of Syrahs like these to turn to for a Wednesday night bottle. You really get to smell and taste what a $50 Cote Rotie might be like and thus get an inkling as to just how special this grape can be. You very rarely get aromas and flavors like this from new world Syrah. The Viognier, a white grape of course, is a partner to only about 3% and contributes to the aromatics. It's a common blend in Cote Rotie and has been for a long time.

This is a non-vintage bottling which means there is juice from more than one vintage in the blend. Like the Domaine de Chateaumar, this Syrah may be more defined by it's aromas than it's flavors. Those aromas are very soil driven and defined by typical Syrah elements of garrigue (a spice and soil component), black olive, pepper and blackberry fruit. It's got good concentration and medium-bodied dark berry flavors still dominated by the terroir. If anything, this wine could use a bit more fruit on the palate, although more did emerge as it aired. The grapes for this very interesting wine come from the village of St. Joseph, another Northern Rhone appellation where Syrah is the star. This $9.99 everyday winner is imported by Vineyard Brands and will pair nicely with a leg of lamb or burgers on the grill. Cheers.