I can barely pronounce Aphillanthes, but I can sure drink anything Daniel Boulle makes. All mind-blowers. And this CdR of VV grenache and mourvedre cuvee is stunningly intense, dark stuff, full of ripe berries, mushrooms, licorice, smoke and spice. That’s the signature of our sweet spot in the Rhone, the stony “plain of God” and low hills around Rasteau and Cairanne scattered between Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. The 2010 vintage was a beauty and Boules is a never-fail perfectionist. I found him through our importer pal Peter Weygandt who loves exploring the Rhone as much as I do. Another “up from the co-op” story of a fourth generation wine maker who took his family’s 80-year-old vines and made a big-rating name for themselves. Even Parker calls them the richest he’s tasted. With great terroir, tiny yields and the advice of our friend Phillipe Cambie, these wines make Aphillanthes easy on the tongue. And I make it easy on your wallet and easier to love.
Laurence Feraud’s top cuvee at Pegau, da Capo, was the 100-point star of 2010, but she never quits and squeezed something darn good out of 2011 too. An iffy vintage for some, but not Laurence. When I stopped by her cellar in Chateauneuf earlier this month, I found the ’11 Cuvee Reservee a beautiful wine with a detailed texture and more mourvedre in the nose, Grenache and the rest filling out the voluptuous body with dark cherries and plums. Sweet if not as expansive as 2010. How could it be? It’s not the 2010, Laurence knows that and priced it so that it’s a solid buy. You should have a few bottles of the 2011. They’ll get you through your wait for the once-in-a-lifetime 2010s (got a few of those available too!).
2011 Pegau CdP Cuvee Reservee …a seductive, open-knit, precocious, sexy example with decent acidity, sumptuous fruit and delicious, mature flavors of roasted herbs, kirsch, black currants, raspberries, licorice and incense…. 90-93 points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate
Some of my most exciting wine hunting in the last few years is in the south of France – think Leon Barral and Ch. Lascaux. I love Herault, rugged old country on the slopes of the Massif Central. Head west from Montpelier along the Mediterranean and then go up into the hills. Saint-Chinian is now one of the top AOCs in Languedoc and Canet Valette my best new discovery there. Marc Valette and his granddad know this terroir; they were one of the first to go “bio” 20 years ago to show off its purity and quality. No fertilizing, no fining, no filtering, no foolishness, just good honest wine. Proof’s in this bottle, the 2009 prize cuvee he calls 1001 Nuits, and it is magical. He blends five of my favorite grapes from Chateauneuf du Pape with Provencal abandon for a with big aromas and silky finesse, exotic yet muscular enough for the local cassoulet. Valette says he makes his wine to suit his rugby teammates and his favorite Michelin-starred chef. Guess you and I are in the middle and love it for being old-fashioned, incredibly sophisticated and a can’t-miss deal. A 93-pointer for under $20? Better buy plenty! 93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
You love Beaucastel. I love Beaucastel. Beaucastel loves B-21. That’s no Barney; it is why we have terrific deals on a gorgeous selection of the Perrin family’s best bottles in all sizes, from 375 to double mags, and vintages from 2006 to the wonderful ’09s and ’10s. That includes the 100-point 2010 Hommage a Jacques Perrin, a once-in-a-lifetime 3-liter buy. Almost every time I’m in the Rhone I get off the A7 just north of Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a visit and a sumptuous tasting. Had a lush dinner there last year and we’ve often hosted the Perrins here; young Cesar was with us at Cafe Ponte in 2012 when the 100-point rating just came out. By the way, our romance with Beaucastel is not just for red wine lovers. The 2010 Chateuneuf blanc is a 95-point jewel of a white, plush with melons, nuts and exotic spices. The 2011 Vieilles Vignes Roussanne is 98-points rich, the most beautiful rendition of this old Rhone grape you can get. What a treasure trove: white, red, CDP and Rousanne, five vintages, your pick of sizes. All pure Beaucastel and all at B-21 bargain prices. A rare treat. My homage to Beaucastel. Make it yours, too.
2010 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge …black cherry, new leather, licorice, pepper, and hints of flowers on the nose, this full-bodied, structured, yet surprisingly elegant and polished 2010 has fantastic purity of fruit, superb balance, and knockout length…. 96 points, J. Dunnuck’s Rhone Report
2007 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge …gorgeous aromatics (blackberry, cassis, lavender, garrigue and roasted meat), full bodied power, serious concentration and unreal purity. Very polished and almost civilized by Beaucastel standards… 96+ points, J. Dunnuck’s Rhone Report
2006 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Powerful, with a round, almost creamy core of blackberry and raspberry fruit all layered with cocoa, sweet toast, mesquite and fig paste. Long and rich through the finish. Still quite primal, with lots in reserve…. 96 points, Wine Spectator
2010 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc …displays the typical tropical fruit notes intermixed with rose petals, crushed rock, spring flowers and a rather exotic, somewhat tropical character, but tangerines dominate the fruit spectrum…. 95 points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate
2010 Chateau Beaucastel CdP Blanc Roussanne Vieilles Vignes …nectarine, mango, subtle smoke, rose petals, this sumptuous, full-throttle wine has unmistakable minerality, a skyscraper-like texture and an amazingly laser-like finish with incredible amounts of glycerin… 97+ points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate
2009 Chateau Beaucastel CdP Hommage a Jacques Perrin …density, richness, precision and unreal flavor intensity, it reveals abundant gamey, meaty notes intermixed with smoked duck, Provencal herbs, blueberries, blackberries, kirsch and licorice…. 99 points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate
2010 Chateau Beaucastel CdP Hommage a Jacques Perrin …perfect… Inky blue/purple, with an extraordinary nose of smoked duck, grilled steaks, Provencal herbs, blackberries, blueberries, kirsch, licorice and truffle, enormously massive, concentrated… 100 points, R. Parker’s Wine Advocate
Le Cros is a 100% syrah cuvee from a very old parcel. Clearly southern Rhone syrah, but what a wine. Tasted Le Cros with our importer buddy Peter Weygandt back in December and couldn’t wait to offer it to you. It is dense, serious wine that will astound at this price. Smashing Rhone for those of us who want even more! Long, rich, complex with exceptional aromatics. You’re gonna love being wrapped up in this one because after all, it’s a Rhone World!
With all the accolades Delas has received, what could I possibly add? Cote Rotie and Hermitage, these are epic wines. Having had the great fortune to taste a ridiculous number of old Rhone bottlings over the last 35 years, it is clear that Cote Rotie and Hermitage are among the very greatest wines on earth. Few wines scream their provenance better than a great Hermitage or Cote Rotie that can do it even at 50 or 60 years of age. They have a unique voice that so many wines do not.
2010 Delas Freres Côte-Rôtie
la Landonne…scents of black truffles, incense, smoked game, creosote, spring flowers and black fruits. Full-bodied with mouth-staining tannin as well as mouth-saturating extract and richness…
2010 Delas Freres Côte-Rôtie
Seigneur de Maugiron…bouquet shows boysenberry and blueberry liqueur, Moroccan spices, violet and woodsmoke. Lush, seductively sweet black and blue fruit flavors stain the palate, picking up suave spice and floral qualities….
2010 Delas Freres Hermitage
Domaine des Tourettes…possesses an inky/purple color, plenty of creme de cassis, licorice, lead pencil shavings, camphor, flint and barbecue smoke characteristics, and a thickness and viscosity that eclipse that of the 2009….
2010 Delas Freres Hermitage
les Bessards…great intensity, prodigious, almost skyscraper-like texture, massive body and high tannins. …for true connoisseurs… it is one of the single greatest Hermitages I have ever tasted….
2009 Delas Freres Hermitage
les Bessards…caresses the palate with freshly cut roses, spices, red berries, mint and licorice. Bright aromas and flavors dazzle the palate while the wilder, more varietal side of Aglianico is less apparent….
Rasteau has some super stuff! The bureaucratic monolith of wine finally figured out what us Rhone lovers have been savoring for years. Just north of Gigondas, its mostly hillside vineyards are planted over smooth, stone covered clay-limestone terraces. Rasteau was historically an overachieving Cotes du Rhone-Villages. With the 2010 vintage it was granted long overdue AOC status. Leading the charge is Domaine Beau Mistral with these two cuvees that are crystalline expressions of the domaine’s 60 to 100 year old Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvedre vines. When I tasted the wines with diamond discovering importer Peter Weygandt, I was awestruck by their understated elegance and delicate grace for a wines of such immense proportions. Completely fell in love with the Florianaelle, the domaine’s deluxe cuvee, a remarkably sophisticated Rasteau with a mineral and limestone inflected finish. Saint Martin is a lieu-dit (single vineyard) wine, not as stammeringly gorgeous as the Florianaelle, but a substantial and well-built wine with a brawn that demands attention. Have at it.
…A tremendously intense bouquet of red and black fruits, garrigue, licorice and spice box soars from the glass of this full-bodied, well-endowed, voluptuously textured, thick, juicy red. It should drink well for a decade.
…stunning array of kirsch and blackberry liqueur to go with notions of spice-box, licorice, and saddle leather on the nose. Not losing a beat on the palate either, this full-bodied, powerful and concentrated…
Spent an afternoon with Laurence Féraud last week in Chateauneuf. Lots going on at Pegau! Coming soon is Chateau Pegau. No no, not Bordeaux. These are Grenache folks through and through. A Chateau’s property must be contiguous and that’s not what makes Pegau’s Chateauneufs great. Her parcels are spread across the CdP zone; a plot near Rayas, others in La Crau and Montpertuis, etc. Chateau Pegau is a recently purchased Cotes du Rhone estate located just south of the CdP zone, and it is really good. More on this later in the year. Actually the point I want to make is based on tasting the 2010 Reservee and Capo from bottle with Laurence last week. These wines do live up to the press, and are must-haves if you can. Check out the HUGE special bottlings.
…aromas of smoked meats, Peking duck, licorice, lavender, aged beef, grilled steak blood, black currants, plums, sauteed cepes and soy. …concentrated, broad, expansive and massive but not over the top…
This just in! You no longer have to spend $80 for a bottle of Pegau! What happens when you own 40+ acres of vineyards in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (and that’s a lot of Chateauneuf!) and want to sell off some of your production, as say, Cotes du Rhone? French wine law only allows CdP to be declassified as non vintage Vin de Pays, or “country wine.” Lucky you. Dynamic Laurent Feraud, owner of Domaine Pegau, has those 40+ acres of CdP and has fashioned a stunning value in Plan Pegau. After tasting a vertical of Pegau CDP with her spanning 30 years, we got a taste of the Plan and the planning began. So close to that Pegau pedigree, this is a delicious mouthful that will leave you with a cash-back smile.
Owner Daniel Boulle is a perfectionist whose viticultural zeal produces peerlessly pristine fruit. With minuscule yields, his grapes, thanks to consulting advice from our big buddy, famed winemaker Philippe Cambie, create some of the most incredible, unbelievably rich yet restrained Grenache-driven wines my palate has encountered. This Rasteau wine punches through the stratosphere of pleasure, the depth of the fruit from a plot planted in 1921 produces waves of flavor tethered by a savoriness that leaves you wanting more. This might be the find of a lifetime… and you’re gonna need to taste it yourself to fully comprehend its magnificence.
…delivers a knockout bouquet of ganache-covered blackberry and cassis styled fruit that is intermixed with notions of hot stones, leather, graphite, licorice, and roasted herbs. Gorgeously rich and decadent…
The childrens song is right, I was dancing sur la pont of old Avignon too after finding this Cotes du Rhone! It’s as close to Chateauneuf du Pape as you can come for under $25, and well under. Terres d’Avignon is another killer over-achiever that our friend Kermit Lynch brings in from the Rhone. It’s not far from CdP Pape in distance, or in spirit, but leagues away in price. This is a blend of cinsault, grenache, mourvedre and syrah, the varietals giving robust flavors to the Rhones we love. From old vines on marl and limestone in the stony heat of that luscious 2010 vintage. Shows blackberries, licorice and the wild herbs of garrigue, lavender and rosemary, supple and sleek in texture. You can’t drink Chateauneuf every night and why would you when you have Terres d’Avignon? In fact this ’10 is rich enough for a weekend feast; spend your savings on a bigger leg of lamb. Indulge.
…From old vines on marl and limestone in the stony heat of that luscious 2010 vintage. Gives the blackberries, licorice and the wild herbs of garrigue, lavender and rosemary, and supple and sleek in texture….
You’ve heard of legendary Beaucastel and have hopefully tasted how glorious the 2010 Rhone vintage is. Have you heard how the Perrin family who’ve been making wine at the 14th century domaine for nearly a century and scored a perfect 100WA for their ultra sensuous Hommage a Jacques Perrin? I tasted this cuvee last May at the property with Cesar Perrin, grandson of Jacques. I was blown away by the massiveness of the wine, and dizzied by its litheness thanks to the vintage’s bright acidity, the wine is quite literally perfect. Surging out of the glass with a nose of garrigue herbs, blueberries, truffles, and hints of smoked meat, the palate is truly stunning, with an enormity that has to be experienced to be believed. The finish… book yourself a room, you’ll need the night! Figure this beauty will last long enough to share with a generation or two. A flawless example of why “it’s a Rhone World!”
Robert P. knows a thing or two about Rhone wines, so “outrageous value” really means something. You know the Mont Ventoux, the most famous climb of the Tour de France. I raced to buy all I could get my hands on of this 95-pointer from my cyclist – importer pal Eric Solomon. I’ve followed this winery in the Cotes du Ventoux since I tasted the first vintage with Eric. This gorgeous corner of Provence has really come into its own. Ours too if you got any of the Argiles from Philip Gimel, another 95-pt Ventoux (had to be quick; that sold out in hours). The founders of Vindemio are just as smart and passionate. Very smart, given the Domaine opened in 2006. The Grenache and Syrah in these bottles are much older, meaty and juicy. Amazing wine. You’re gonna want that.
Andre Brunel and his Les Cailloux have always been a favorite from CdP. Love the way Andre, third generation vigneron, guides the grapes into gloriously Grenache-driven beauties. 2010 was an outstanding vintage, and Les Cailloux is one of the best I’ve tasted. Critics the world over adore this strikingly pure CdP, and so will you. Drinking wonderfully now, but built to last, this blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah has pinpoint whiffs of blueberries, black raspberries and that ever so lovely licorice/anise note that says Southern Rhone. This effort is densely saturated, thanks to deeply concentrated fruit, the result of poor flowering in the spring. While it bodes well for a superbly structured, prodigious wine for the ages, it comes at severely reduced yields that left fewer grapes on the vines, and created one seriously voluptuous wine. Andre said his harvest was down by nearly 30%. This loss of fruit means a gain in complexity in the grapes remaining but, sadly, it means far less wine to go around. Incredibly complex, with layer upon layer of gorgeous, fleshy fruit, all saddled upon a solid structure of super smooth and tasty tannins, born to drink well for decades. The 2010 is now reduced by $60 per case. 2010 is fading fast.
…offers up a spectacular array of spiced red fruits, garrigue, small flowers, licorice, and toast on the nose to go with a full-bodied, layered and perfectly proportioned mouth feel. …complex, seamless, and rich…