La Croix Blanche Gascogne 2008 (France) $11.99 – This is a perfect summertime white wine! It’s thirst-quenching and refreshing! Aromas of white grapefruit, pineapple and pears. The aromas are bright, fresh and refreshing! This has crisp, bright acidity right from the start. The Colombard adds a bit of weight midway and good minerality. Nice citrus flavors. The wine is clean and crisp with a pleasing finish. The wine is only 11.5% alcohol, so it is great for pouring at a party! 50% Colombard and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. Stainless steel fermentation. This is made by a 4th generation winemaker, Francis Baurens and his wife and daughter. Food pairing – oysters, mussels, salad nicoise, light, creamy cheeses, a “go-to” wine for a warm summer day!
Les 3 Domaines is made in the Southwest of France in Gascony, the home of D’Artagnan of Three Musketeers fame and the home of Armagnac, Madiran and Jurançon.
Lovivalo Toro Joven 2007 (Spain) $14.99 – 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). Toro is a winemaking area in Spain that is northwest of Madrid, close to the Portuguese border. As in Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the dominant red grape is Tempranillo. Toro received its D.O. status in 1987. Columbus carried wines from Toro on his expedition to the New World in 1492. The vines are 80 years-old, so they produce superb grapes. The wine is produced without seeing any oak barrels, so the fruit is bright and fresh. This has aromas and flavors of blackberries, black plums and black cherries. This also has a pleasing earthiness to it and a touch of black pepper. The wine is medium- to full-bodied. The finish is soft and smooth. This winery is about 10 years-old. Santiago Ijalba and his son, Roberto, run the winery. They have 10 hectares (25 acres) of vineyards. Food pairing – grilled steak, grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin, baby back ribs.
Trésors d’Antan Pineau d’Aunis Rosé 2009 (France) $13.99 – This is an unusual grape from the Coteaux de Vendomis in the Loire Valley. This rosé is unusual because it is made entirely from the rare Pineau d’Aunis grape. This grape is unique to the Loire Valley – even in the Loire it is rare as it has been pulled up for decades in favor of better-known grapes, such as Cabernet Franc. Pineau d’Aunis was born in the Middle Ages at the Priory of Aunis in Dampierre-sur-Loire. It’s also known as Chenin Noir and is one of the oldest grape varietals in the Loire.
This has peppery aromas, which is typical of this grape. The flavors definitely include grapefruit, as well as strawberries and raspberries. This also has an interesting and pleasing note of pomegranates. Food pairing – great as a cocktail wine or with most any fish, poultry, softer cheese and desserts with red fruits.
Vinedo de los Vientos “Estival” 2008 (Uruguay) $16.99 - This is a fabulous blend - 60% Gewurztraminer, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Moscato Bianco. It's unique - Uruguayan flair and style. Aromas of small white flowers, pineapples, melons, lemons. This has soft, subtle "Gewurz" spice. It’s real soft on the tongue at the start and then almost, but not quite, tingly on the tongue! Zingy minerals in the mid-palette really wake you up! White peaches in the flavors. Finishes clean and rich with hints of nuts...definitely almonds...and minerals. Food pairing - Great wine with a tropical/Asian "fusion" dish. Drinks wonderfully well on its own!
Chateau La Reyne Cahors “Le Prestige” 2007 (France) $16.99 - Cahors is in the area of France known as “The Lot.” It’s to the south of Bordeaux. The estate is near the medieval city, Puy l’Eveque, on the Lot River. By law, Cahors must be at least 70% Malbec. Malbec is known as Côt in much of France and as Auxerrois in Cahors (not the Auxerrois from Alsace). Malbec used to be a minor blending grape in Bordeaux, but no longer. Today, Malbec is grown mostly in Cahors and Argentina.
Yohan Vidal is the 5th generation winemaker at Chateau La Reyne. Vidal took over the 75-acre estate in 1997. The vines average 35-years of age. This is a small, family-owned winery that produces great wines. They have long been one of the leading producers in Cahors.
This has aromas and flavors of plums, anise, black currants, black cherries and blackberry jam. Some smokiness to the wine. Dark and inky. This is dense and extracted without being coarse or harsh. It’s both approachable and dense, which is not common. The wine is full-bodied and complex. Long finish. 95% Malbec and 5% Tannat. Aged 18 months in huge, older oak barrels (30% of the barrels are new). Food pairing – grilled red meat, duck confit, beef stew and strong cheeses.
- This delicious blend from one of my favorite wineries has great aromas, depth and structure, acidity, texture and elegance. This estate has passed from mother-to-daughter for 3 generations after being founded by patriarch, Louis Avon. Blend of Roussanne (40%), Clairette (40%), Bourboulenc (10%) and Viognier (10%). The grapes are aged in oak barrels (Allier and Vosges) for 8 months on the lees. The lees are stirred every 2 days – this adds richness, fatness and roundness to the wine.
Domaine Montvac “Mélodine” Vacqueyras 2008 (France) $36.99
The wine is big, full-bodied and complex. You will want to decant this and enjoy it as the wine evolves in the glass. This has a lot of weight and feel to it, but it isn’t flabby or fleshy. Long finish with lots going on. Spices, vanilla, minerality and more in the glass!
The winery is owned by Cécile Dusserre, who is a trained ballerina. Consequently, her wines have names associated with dance. She has 3 daughters herself, so it is likely that the tradition of passing the winery from mother-to-daughter will continue. She’s married to the winemaker next-door. Food pairing – scallops, lobster, fish – whether it is a lighter one, such as haddock, or a stronger one, such as mackerel.
Domaine La Suffrene Bandol 2005 (France) $37.99 - This is true Bandol – Powerful! Blend of Mourvedre (55%), Grenache (20%), Cinsault (15%) and Carignan (10%). Hand-harvested grapes. Aged 18 months in large oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Since 1996, Cédric Gravier has been making wine from the grapes grown on his family’s 45 hectares (about 100 acres). He’s a 1st generation winemaker (the vineyards have been his family’s for 4 generations). The vineyards are in the communes of La Cadière d'Azur and Castellet. This is prototypical Mediterranean landscape – rocks, olive trees, wild thyme, rosemary and lavender and vines…all baked by the sun.
The wine: Sun-baked Provence! Olives, smoke, cedar, rosemary, curing tobacco, garrigue, black pepper…….this is massive…a very big wine! Lots of blackberries and blackcurrants in the aromas and flavors. Medium tannins. Food pairing – leg of lamb with mushrooms, bouillabaisse, grilled steak.