Category Archives: Wine of the week

Wine of the week: Saint-Cosme Côtes du Rhône 2013


Saint-Cosme Cotes du RhoneDespite all the doom and gloom in the wine business, with prices rising and quality vanishing, there are still producers who care. And France’s Saint-Cosme is one of the best.

Its Little James Basket Press red and white blends from the Rhone are terrific examples of $10 wine, and the Saint-Cosme Cotes du Rhone red ($15, purchased, 13.5%) is a step up, a lesson in how to provide varietal character, terroir, and value. Or, as I wrote in my notes: “What a red Rhone blend at this price should taste like, and why can’t anyone else do this?”

Look for deep red fruit from the syrah and a little licorice, but more subtle than usual and almost tight; that is, where you think there should be more fruit flavor but it’s hiding but will come out as the wine ages. This Sainte-Cosme is earthy but not off-putting, and speaks to the traditional Rhone style where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Highly recommended. Pair this with any fall stew or meat dish as the weather gets cooler. And know that someone, for all the focus groups and private labels, still cares. Writes Sainte-Cosme’s Louis Barroul: “It is my pleasure to offer every year a wine of this quality at a reasonable level of price. This is what French wine means: bottle a bit of spirit even at an affordable price.”

Wine of the week: Felluga Pinot Grigio 2014


felluga pinot grigioMichele Pasqua, the winemaker for Italy’s Marco Felluga, is passionate about Italian pinot grigio. “Most Americans don’t know what pinot grigio tastes like,” he says, “because 85 percent of the pinot grigio they taste is not pinot grigio.” 

His example? The Felluga pinot grigio ($15, sample, 13%), which is mostly everything that the tonic water pinot grigios that are so popular in the U.S. aren’t. For one thing, it has fruit — lemon, and some lemon peel on the finish and just not the sort of almost minerality that is one of grocery store pinot grigio’s reason for being. For another, it smells good, as un-wine as that sounds, with an enticing, flowery aroma. This is wine, and not something devised to sell to American women of a certain demographic.

And, yes, it’s worth the couple of extra bucks. Chill this and drink it on its own, and you’ll smile at how much you enjoy it. It’s also a food wine; pair it with anything grilled that would pair with white wine — shrimp would be terrific, as would chicken thighs marinated in herbs, garlic, and olive oil.

Wine of the week: Honoro Vera Monastrell 2013


Honoro Vera MonastrellBuy this wine. The Honoro Vera Monastrell is that cheap and that well made — what else needs to be said? In this, it not only reaffirms that Spanish wine offers the best value in the world today, but that it’s possible for a producer to make honest wine and to respect its customers.

Monastrell is the Spanish name for the French mourvedre (though there is some dispute), and is mostly used in red blends. The Honoro Vera ($9, sample, 14%), from the fourth-generation Gil family, shows how to do it as a varietal, focusing on its earthy, almost gamey flavor. But don’t let that scare you off, for there is plenty of blueberry fruit and almost spicy tannins. It’s difficult to believe that a wine made with this grape at this price can be this enjoyable. I drank it with chicken breasts roasted with olive oil and herbs, and the pairing was spot on.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. I have written this a lot this year, as wine prices have gone up and quality has gone down, but this wine restores my faith in the wine business. I have tasted so much junk at $15 and $20, where the producer cares not at all about quality and only about margins, that the Gil family does this reminds me why I love wine.

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