Tasting notes: Warm Climate Wines, Oct. 19, 2019

2017 Terres Dorees (JP Brun) Roussanne

Beaujolais, FR

Regular Price $24.99

Sale price $19.99

The renowned Jean-Paul Brun has been making this wine for a number of years now, and it’s finally legal to do so. The newly recognized Appellation Roussanne Controlee allows him (and others) to plant and grow Roussanne in the south of Beaujolais and not have to call it a ‘table wine’ (Vin de Pays), which was the case in his first few vintages. It’s not as strange as it sounds; Roussanne is a mainstay of the  Northern Rhone Valley, which is just down the rood. This wine is not Rhone-ish; it’s rather very stylish and understated with lovely fruit and floral tones.

2018 Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Rosé

Vaucluse, FR

Regular Price $29.99

Sale price $23.99

97% of all wines produced in Gigondas are red, so don’t be surprised that you haven’t come across a rosé from here before. And unlike the typical southern France rosé, this wine is 70% old vine cinsault, which gives it a distinctive grip and weight that some find surprising. The wine is just coming into its own and will continue to shine throughout the fall, winter, the following spring and summer. At least. #notasummerwine

2017 Domaine de Marcoux ‘La Lorentine’ Lirac

Lirac, FR

Regular Price $24.99 

Sale price $19.99

Summers are hot in the southern Rhone, and the grapes attain ripeness quite readily. Historically, many producers picked earlier rather than later to maintain freshness in their wines, but that was before biased and unlearned wine critics announced that ‘bigger was better’ and sugar was way tastier than acidity. They’re not entirely wrong, but great wine is not merely measured by its sweetness. Anyway, The Armenier sisters make wine classically, meaning the wines are balanced and fresh rather than overly fruity and heavy. This wine, from an organically farmed, single vineyard in Lirac (across the river from Chatauneuf-du-Pape) is muscular yet lithe, rich yet elegant. Enough residual sugar to balance the abundant acidity, yet not a drop more. 

2017 Casa Castillo Monastrell

Jumilla, SP

Regular Price $13.99

Sale price $10.99

Casa Castillo makes thrilling wines from the baked, stony slopes of Jumilla in south eastern Spain, and this, their entry level wine is illustrative of their overall quality. Made of 100% Monastrell (known in France as Mourvedre) from their younger vines, the wine is lush and rich, fruity and dense. It’s not particularly complicated but delivers a lotta wine for the money.

2016 Feudi di San Gregorio ‘Rubrato’ Aglianico

Sobo Serpico, IT

Regular Price $22.99

Sale price $17.99

Aglianico is a grape originally from Greece, planted in Southern Italy probably around 300 BC.  The grape was called Ellenico (the Italian word for “Greek”) until the 15th century, when it acquired its current name. The grape thrives in volcanic soils, and can be aggressively tannic, which is why some liken it to Nebbiolo, the famously tannic grape from Piedmont. Of course, that’s no more apt than likening a little red wagon to a fire truck based upon their single commonality. But wine commentators have proven themselves not very knowledgeable about wine, so it’s not very surprising. But the wine is full and bold and tannic yet unoaked and fresh and herbal and…did I say tannic? It’s really a great wine for fall (even if its not at all like Nebbiolo. I mean, not even a little bit. Except for the tannins. And its red.)

2017 Beringer Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

Knights Valley, CA

Regular Price $29.99

Sale price $23.99

Its plenty hot in the summer in the inland, northern Sonoma Knight’s Valley, so the Cab, Merlot and other (unspecified) grapes in this Bordeaux-like blend get plenty ripe. The resulting wine is soft and smooth and plush and friendly with dark berry fruit and vanilla oak notes. Their is some structure and an attempt at balancing acidity but really, this is a wine for those that love juicy, sun-drenched fruit forward California wines.