Dave Phinney D66 Grenache IGP Cotes Catalanes 2014

Estate: Renowned, progressive winemaker Dave Phinney owns 300 acres [120 hectares] of vineyards in the Cotes Catalanes, a sub-appellation of the Roussillon in southern France. The vineyards are in the Pyrénées-Orientales mountain range, two hours east of Barcelona, Spain and thirty minutes from the ancient Roman port city of Perpignan. Falling in love with the area and vines, Phinney built a winery in 2009, followed by a home for him and his family.

The area is known for its intense heat and minimal amounts of vegetation. Planted over 60 years ago, vines are grown in soil mostly of black schist, along with small amounts of granite and limestone. “The intense heat from the daytime sun is reflected back to the gnarled, head trained vines at night, increasing ripeness while maintaining acidity. The result is a very low yield (half ton per acre), but makes for a dark, concentrated, and finesse driven wine that embodies this singular region.”

The inspiration for the brand name ‘Dept 66’ is derived from the administrative department that covers the southwest corner of France that the estate is located in [Department 66].

Philosophy: “I am so lucky to have been introduced to this amazing area and so proud to share its wines with you.”

Winemaking: Aged for 18 months in French oak, 30% new. Aged in the bottle 5 months prior to release.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of toasted oak, dark fruit, raisin and peppery spice. Concentrated black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, vanilla and licorice flavours swell over an oak core. Silky tannins, dark fruit, coffee, black pepper toasted oak and a dusting of dark chocolate comprise the lengthy, velvety finish. Rich and lush, not for the faint of heart [oak wise, alcohol wise, concentrated fruit wise].

Grenache, Syrah and Carignon [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
IGP Cotes Catalanes
France
Produced and Bottled by Dept. 66
15.2% Alcohol
$37
Enjoy now thru 2021

Rated 93 points by Wine Advocate

Les Chardons Gamay Touraine 2014

Estate: The Chardon domaine is located along the banks of the Cher River in Couffy, in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. Husband and wife team Sophie and Thierry Chardon cultivate 115 acres of vineyards, with an average vine age of 25 years. Raised on a vineyard in Touraine, Thierry’s family made wine for many generations, until his father was forced to sell the vineyard. Years later, Thierry and Sophie moved their family back to Touraine and purchased a domaine.

Winemaking: Certified organic since the late 2000’s, the believe in minimal intervention in both the vineyard and cellar. “Our wines emerge from grapes cultivated without chemical products, in respect of our environment.”

Tasting Notes: Transparent in red-violet in colour, with aromas of strawberry, resin and earthy funk. Strawberry, raspberry, along with sour cherry wrap around a floral core and are accented by sandalwood, white pepper, a dash of funk and a streak of granite minerality. Black cherry and a trace of tart wild berries linger between each sip. Smooth tannins and food friendly acidity compliment this fantastic, unique expression of Gamay.

100% Gamay
Touraine
France
Estate Bottled
12.5% Alcohol
$13
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Vrac Rosé Vin de Pays de Mediterranée IGP 2016

Brand: Vrac translates to “bulk” or “loose”, whilst ‘En Vrac’ translates to “bring your own bottle”. These phrases refer to the French practice of locals filling their own vessels with wine directly from the winery’s tanks. The producer intended to reflect that custom with VRAC, and crafted a simple, French countryside jug-style wine.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards in the Pays des Maures and the Pays de la Mediterranée, in the heart of Provence, southeastern France. “The juice is bled from the macerating fruit (“saignée” in French) at the perfect moment to optimize the color and flavor from the skins, and is left to ferment in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures for a long, cool fermentation.”

Tasting Notes: Pale coral-pink in colour with summery aromas of strawberry, raspberry and clean minerals. Tasting similar to the aromas, light and airy strawberry and raspberry along with a quick shake of white pepper harmonize with a tangy acidity. Clean minerality and a hint of citrus comprise the dry, zippy finish. Friendly and gluggable, easy to pair with summer dishes, consistently one of my fave “drink all summer” Rosés.

60% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 10% Tibouren
Vin de Pays de Mediterranée IGP
France
Bottled by Sas Savatier Selection
12.5% Alcohol
$9 or $20 3L box [4 bottles]
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Domaine De Fontsainte Rouge Corbières 2015

Estate: Located in the heart of the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France, the estate’s first vineyards were planted by the ancient Romans. More recently, the Laboucarié family has been making wine there since the 17th century. Today the estate is headed by Bruno Laboucarié who maintains his family’s legacy of innovation. Bruno, along with his father Yves were one of the first grape growers in the region to work with whole cluster fermentation. (A technique that can impart a subtle “green” flavor, spices and additional tannins.) For over 30 years Kermit Lynch has been importing their fantastic wines.

Philosophy: With a belief that ”great wines are made in the vineyard”, focus is on terroir since each vineyard is different in regards to soil type, microclimate and varietal. The family’s motto is “innovation means looking forward and backward”.

Winemaking: Sustainable viticulture has been practiced since 1971. The winery utilizes gravity fed modern thermo regulated stainless steel vats along with traditional cement vats. Grapes are sourced from vineyards with gritty, gravely silica-clay-limestone soil. Aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Dark red-violet in colour with aromas of smoky, black pepper dusted dark berries. Tasting similar to the aromas, with rich dark berry flavours, black pepper and a hint of earth. Berries return on the clean, fruity finish. Straightforward, easy drinking, versatile and consistently a fantastic value.

60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah
Corbières
France
Estate Bottled
13.5% Alcohol
$10
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Domaine Sainte Croix ‘Le Fournas’ 2013

Brings the funk like the BT Express.

Estate: Domaine Sainte Croix is located in the rugged hills of the High Corbières on the border between the Languedoc and the Roussillon, in the very southern part of France. The 13 hectare [32 acre] estate is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen. The area is known for its fantastic Grenache-centric wines, small stone wall enclosed vineyards and fig, almond and wild cherry trees. The vineyards are comprised of multiple terroir, including “of steel-blue limestone to sandy, gravelly clay shot through with quartz crystals, to sheets of purple-green schist.”

Philosophy: “Fine wine is made in the vineyard. Our aim is to express the terroir of the domaine, we see the cornerstone as being the health of its vineyard ecosystems.”

Winemaking: The estate has been certified organic since 2008. Grapes came from vineyards with a blend of limestone, chalky-clay and sandy loam soil. The Carignon grapes came from vines over 100 years old. Fermented using only indigenous yeasts found on the grape skins. 100% matured sur lie in tank for 18 months. Unfined, loosely filtered.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of wildflowers, peppery spice, candied cherry and funky sawdust. Cherry, blackberry, hibiscus and a shake of black pepper wrap around a flinty mineral, earthy core, backed by balancing acidity and silky tannins. Fruit and funk wrap up the velvety finish.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Particularly good accompaniment to the cuisine of the Mediterranean region using tomato-based sauces, olives or wild herbs such as thyme or rosemary.

50% Carignan, 21% Grenache, 19% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre
Corbières AOC
France
Mis en Bouteille au Domaine Par J & E Bowen
13.5% Alcohol
$16
Enjoy now