Tag Archives: Rhone wine

Wine of the week: Saint-Cosme Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2012


rhone_sud_saint_cosme_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_2012The Wine Curmudgeon has long been a fan of Saint-Cosme’s cheapest wines, the wonderfully-named Little James Basket Press red and white (and I can’t believe I haven’t done the white as a wine of the week yet). So I had high expectations when I stepped up a notch to the winery’s basic Cotes du Rhone red ($13, purchased, 14.5%).

These hopes were not disappointed. The rouge, made of syrah, was full of dark fruit (currants?), some earthiness and even a touch of licorice, which seemed like a lot to get from something at this price. Best yet, the high alcohol — about a point more than I expected — doesn’t get in the way of the wine. The higher alcohol seems natural, and not forced on it to get more fruit flavor and higher scores, as often happens in California. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tasting notes are almost apologetic about alcohol level.

Highly recommended, and another example of what a French wine can be that hasn’t sold its birthright to the International Style of Winemaking. This is a winter wine for stews and soups and strong cheeses after tramping snow and ice off at the front door.


Wine of the week: Domaine de la Janasse Terre de Bussiere 2009

Just when the Wine Curmudgeon thinks that he can’t be surprised by wine any more, I taste something like this. Is it any wonder that this is the best job in the world?

My reaction to the first sip was “Wow!” – for just that reason (and because, in my notes, wow stands for a possible wine of the week). The Janasse ($15, purchased, 15%) is a red blend from the Rhone in France, but with some very un-Rhone-like merlot added to syrah and grenache. I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on here, but I didn’t need to understand to enjoy it.

This is an earthy and fruity wine (black cherries?), if not especially complicated, and another example of the fine values that are available from the Rhone. It’s an end of the summer barbecue wine, perfect for the porch.

And don’t worry about that 15 percent alcohol level; frankly, I don’t believe it (though 2009 was a very warm vintage in the Rhone). The wine wasn’t hot or overdone in the way that so many California 15 percenters are, and I only realized it was so high in alcohol when I did my notes.

Wine of the week: Domaine de Cabasse Les Deux Anges 2009

cabasse-deux-angesRhone wines remain a mystery to most American wine drinkers, and not just because they have very French names and are often difficult to find on store shelves. It’s also because they’re made with grapes that aren’t cabernet sauvignon and merlot; for most of us, that difference is enough so we’ll buy something else.

Case in point is the Deux Anges ($10, purchased, 13.5%). It’s made with grenache, syrah, and carignan, and the name – along with the almost Baroque-like angels on the label – is enough to turn off any U.S. consumer who expects to see a cute animal or marketing-driven name.

The wine itself, like so much cheap wine from the Rhone, is a revelation. It’s accessible, yet still tastes like the Rhone — juicy red fruit from the grenache, lots of peppery spiciness, noticeable tannins, and a bit of a finish. But it isn't too rough, which is often the case with this style of wine – call it rustic, the kind of wine someone in a Van Gogh painting would drink. How often can you say that about California merlot?

It’s a grilled meat or cheese kind of wine; highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.

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