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Bordeaux, Rhone Valley

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Bordeaux



Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.

The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.

On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.

Styles
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.

Grapes

White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot

Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Favourite Producers
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
 



Rhone valley



Northern Rhone
The Rhone Valley is kept in check by a sweeping Mistral wind that is tunnelled from the north of Rhone to the open and flatter southern Rhone. The Rhone river runs through the valley dividing the schist and granite soils.

The Northern Rhone is a difficult place to grow grapes, the slopes are steep to work and costly. Most of the wines grown are premium styles and its production is tiny when compared to Southern Rhone. Syrah hits new heights here in the form of spicy delights.

Red or White? Mainly red with a small amount of white made. And there is a blend where red and white is co-fermented together in Cote Rotie. Syrah with a splash of viognier - a rarity!
 
Grapes
White: Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne
Red: Syrah

Styles
This is spicy syrah land - black olives, smoked meats, cooking spices and heady florals are common tasting descriptors. And the tannins can be firm and fine in youth, becoming slender with age. The whites are richer and fleshy, viognier is the queen of hedonism.

Favourite Producers
Guigal, Coursodon, Pierre Gonon, JL Chave, Bernard Faurie, Balthazar, Stephane Ogier

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Southern Rhone
Grenache reigns supreme in the south, although it is commonly blended with Mourvedre and syrah.   Planted throughout the region, Grenache loves the warmth and sunny exposition made available to it in southern Rhone. Look out for the galette pebbles found in Chateauneuf du Pape - these heat up during the day and the extra warmth overnight continues to ripen the grapes on the old bush vines.

From rosé to affordable weekday pizza wines (Cotes du Rhone blends) through to ageable beauties like Chateauneuf du Pape, Grenache is a chameleon of grapes centred around vibrant red fruits and slippery tannins.

Red or white? Red and a little rose. There's also a small amount of a fortified white called Muscat de Beaume de Venise

Grapes
White: Muscat a Petits Grains
Red: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah

Styles
Cotes du Rhone are the cheerful wines you want to reach for mid-week. Their fleshy and fruit nature make them deliciously enjoyable and they won't burn a hole in your pocket. The pinnacle of Grenache is reached in Chateauneuf du Pape wines. These have built-in structure and can age gracefully for many years. Look out for Village or Cru wines such as  Vinsobres, Vaquerays, Gigondas as these are a happy medium between the bookend styles.

Favourite Producers
Font du Courtedune, Rayas, Beaucastel, Chateau de Fonsalette, Marcoux, Mont Redon

 


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  1. Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2017 1500ml
    Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2017 1500ml
    Saturated ruby. Ripe black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by suggestions of cracked pepper, allspice and pungent flowers. Supple, appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve flavors gain energy with air, and a bright mineral element adds back-end lift. Supple tannins add shape to a persistent, floral-accented finish, which leaves cherry and spice notes behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS, Vinous
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $52.00 Regular Price $65.00
  2. Chateau Montlandrie 2016 1500ml
    Chateau Montlandrie 2016 1500ml

    CASTILLON-CÔTES DE BORDEAUX

    The 2016 Montlandrie is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 3-17 October. It was picked at 40 hectoliters per hectare and raised in 60% new oak (although my sample was from a one-year-old barrel). It is the first vintage to include more than 80% of the vines that were planted by Denis Durantou after 2008. This has a more broody bouquet than the two Lalande-de-Pomerols, just a touch of leafiness originating from the Cabernet Sauvignon that enhances the complexity. The palate is medium-bodied with fine structure, more saline than the Les Cruzelles, backward at the moment, but the Cabernets impart some lovely graphite notes on the saline finish. Superb. Expect this to land towards the top of my banded score once in bottle. (91-93) NEAL MARTIN

    The 2016 Montlandrie is powerful and bold to its core. Layers of dense, dark fruit, chocolate, lavender spice and sweet oak saturate the palate. Dense and voluptuous, this racy wine from Denis Durantou is packed and ready to deliver maximum pleasure upon release. Tasted two times. (88-91) ANTONIO GALLONI

    2016
    Cabernet Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    France
    356
    Special Price $108.00 Regular Price $135.00
  3. Sociando Mallet 2015 1500ml
    Sociando Mallet 2015 1500ml
    One of the standouts of the vintage, the 2015 Sociando Mallet is all finesse. Light on its feet, gracious and super-expressive, the 2015 speaks to class above all else. The flavors are bright and beautifully lifted in this polished, sophisticated Haut-Médoc. Although a touch light, the 2015 is very pretty. The blend is 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. 90  ANTONIO GALLONI
    2015
    Cabernet Merlot
    France
    356
    Special Price $195.00 Regular Price $230.00
  4. Haut Bages Liberal 2016 1500ml
    Haut Bages Liberal 2016 1500ml

    PAUILLAC - 5th Growth

    The 2016 Haut-Bages Libéral has turned out beautifully. Rose petals, lavender and sweet red cherry are some of the notes that grace this fine, translucent Pauillac. Medium in body and precise, with exquisite finesse and nuance, the 2016 is incredibly expressive today. This is a fabulous showing from proprietor Claire Villars Lurton. (95) ANTONIO GALLONI

     

    2016
    Cabernet Merlot
    France
    356
    Special Price $204.00 Regular Price $255.00
  5. Montrose 2017 1500ml
    Montrose 2017 1500ml

    Saint-Estèphe 2ème Cru Classé 
    4 MAGNUMS remain at time of offer

    Extremely aromatic with currant, wild-herb and fresh-violet aromas. This is regal cabernet sauvignon at its finest. The palate has unwaveringly long and defined tannins that carry such fresh, piercingly pure, redcurrant and cassis flavors. A twin to the superb 2015? A blend of 76% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.(97) JAMES SUCKLING

    The 2017 Montrose is a very pretty, polished wine that speaks much more to finesse than power. Expressive floral and spices notes add an attractive inner sweetness to a Montrose that in 2017 leans more into the red fruit spectrum. Gracious yet deep, with terrific overall balance, the 2017 Montrose is a total winner. What impresses most about the 2017 is its freshness and sophistication. I won't be surprised if Montrose turns out to be even better than this note suggests further down the road. Graphite, licorice, menthol and sage lead to a finish with real grip and freshness. The 2017 is such a classy and promising wine. (95+) ANTONIO GALLONI

    The 2017 Montrose was so impressive from barrel and now, bottled since July, it continues to put in a strong case for being one of the best Left Bank wines. It has a very pure and intoxicating bouquet with intense blackberry, light cassis, juniper and violet aromas, almost Margaux-like in terms of personality. Although there is a patina of new oak after bottling, it is in sync with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with gentle grip on the entry. Tightly wound at the moment but supremely well focused, this is a classic Montrose, "cool" and reserved, demonstrating impressive tension and precision towards the finish. It will require less time in bottle than the 2016 for example, so broach this superb Saint-Estèphe after five or six years and then it will give 25 to 30 years of drinking pleasure, and knowing Montrose, probably longer. Tasted twice with consistent notes. (95) NEAL MARTIN

    2017
    Cabernet Merlot
    France
    356
    Special Price $632.00 Regular Price $790.00
  6. Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde 2016 1500mL
    Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde 2016 1500mL
    1 BOTTLE LIMIT
    Lurid purple. Pungent aromas of ripe red berries, potpourri and smoky minerals pick up a spicy nuance as the wine stretches out. Silky and seamless in the mouth, displaying superb clarity to the sappy, mineral-laced black raspberry, boysenberry, candied violet and spicecake flavors. Shows a distinctly finesseful, even Burgundian character and finishes wonderfully long and sweet, with building tannins framing the intense fruit and floral qualities. JOSH RAYNOLDS
    2016
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $672.00 Regular Price $840.00
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