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

Chais Saint-Laurent ‘La Vigne en Véron’ Chinon 2015

Consistently a fantastic value.

Producer: Founded in 1921 by Paulin Lebrun, Foucher-Lebrun is a “Petit Negociant” specializing in wines from the Loire Valley. Chais Saint-Laurent is their second label. In 2009 fine and rare wine broker Jean Mounard joined the company managing “the selection process for the wines of the company”. His large network of wine growers and winemakers has increased the quality, along with being able to offer wines that “display a real sense of their underlying appellations and are made with a balance and delineation usually found in much more expensive wines”.

Philosophy: “To convey the expression of the appellations in the Loire region by careful selection, vinification and aging of its wines”.

Winemaking: The grapes were sourced from select vineyards with Argilo-Calcaire and gravel soils in the villages of Riviere, Beaumont-en-Veron and Savigny-en-Veron. The average vine age is 45-50 years. Aging of the majority of the cuvee is in used barriques, 1-3 years old, whilst the remainder is aged in tanks.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of ripe berries and garrique. Jammy cherry and berry flavours are complimented by smoky, grilled herbs [juniper, thyme, rosemary] and soft pepper spice. Good acidity and moderate tannins, a hint of chocolate frames the dry, fruity finish.

100% Cabernet Franc
Chinon
France
Produced and Bottled by Chais Saint-Laurent
13% Alcohol
$9
Enjoy now thru 2019

Jeff Carrel ‘Les Darons’ Languedoc AOP 2015

 

Brand: French winemaker Jeff Carrel is famous for crafting super tasty wines that are also excellent values. He has worked for a wide variety of brands, including Robert Mondavi and Stimson Lane. Most recently he has focused his expertise mainly in the Languedoc Roussillon region of southern France, resulting in international accolades for his lush, budget friendly wines. ‘Les Darons’ is derived from an “affectionate expression for “The Parents” in the Parisian suburbs where Carrel was born.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards in the Laure-Minervois area northwest of the medieval village of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region. The vines are in clay and limestone soil and are sustainably farmed. The Grenache and Carignan vines average 40+ years in age. The 3 varieties were de-stemmed and crushed/vinified together. Fermented and aged in concrete.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of black cherry, blueberry, pink peppercorn and a trace of sour cherry. Tasting quite similar to the inviting aromas with black cherry, blueberry and a pop of sour cherry over a clean, flinty mineral core. Good acidity and silky tannins compliment pink peppercorn on the clean finish. A fantastic companion with a wide variety of everyday dishes.

60% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 15% Syrah
Languedoc AOP
France
Bottle by F.11200 for TOOWO The Way of Wine S.A.R.L Négociant in Narbonne
13.5% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now

Rated 91-93 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Chateau Maris ‘La Touge’ 2013

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Estate: Named the “The Biodynamic Apostles of the Languedoc” by Wine Spectator, Chateau Maris is located at the eastern edge of the village of La Livinière at the foot of the Montagne Noire Mountains, in the Languedoc region of southern France. With a goal of “creating “grand cru-level” wines from La Livinière in the Minervois appellation, winemaker Robert Eden took over the estate in 1996. Eden converted the entire estate to biodynamic farming after trying different methods to revitalized the soils that had been rendered unusable due to the previous owner’s overuse of chemicals. Over the years his green approach and biodynamic processes have gained much recognition. He has built “the world’s first hemp cellar” that functions carbon neutrally. The hemp bricks not only capture carbon dioxide, but also maintain temperature and humidity so that heating or cooling is not needed.

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards with “hard and soft limestone and alluvial soils”. Only natural yeasts are used, unfined, unfiltered. Aged 16 months in egg shaped concrete tanks and regular tanks.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of sweet dark fruit, subtle spice and caramel. Well structured with an elegant edge to the wild berries and chocolate flavours abounding in the full, soft body. Silky tannins, herbs and black pepper linger between each sip. So easy drinking, do watch out, as the higher alcohol content is nowhere to be found in all the silky-soft goodness.

Syrah & Grenache blend [I was unable to verify varietal percentage, other then that Syrah is the dominate grape]
Minervois La Livinère
France
Bottled for Domaine des Comtes Méditerranéens by F-11160-315
14.5% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now thru 2018

Rated 91 points by The Wine Advocate

Joel Gott & Dave Phinney ‘Shatter’ Grenache Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes 2013

shatter13

Brand: Shatter is a collaboration between legendary winemakers Dave Phinney and Joel Gott along with Trinchero Family Estates. Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney, founded the acclaimed Orin Swift Cellars in 1998 [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name.] Today the company has grown into an international brand that includes 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. [Note: Orin Swift (the brand, remaining inventory and the tasting room in St. Helena) was purchased by E. & J. Gallo Winery in 2016. Dave Phinney “will remain involved”.]

Joel Gott is a 5th generation west coast winemaker that began crafting renowned Zinfandels in 1996. His wines are noted for their remarkable value together with his use of high-end California fruit, and fantastic structure and balance. Striving to craft quality wine under $20, in addition to his acclaimed Joel Gott Wines, he is also the man behind the hugely successful ‘Three Thieves’ brand.

Winemaking: Interestingly, the name Shatter refers to a few different components of the wine. First, it is a nod to the extreme viticulture conditions found in the Maury region of the Roussillon in southern France [nutrient-poor soil, strong winds, hot days]. Second, it refers to the phenomenon in which grape clusters fail to develop all their berries after flowering. Generally, this is considered to be one of the hazards of grape growing in the area, but Phinney and Gott embrace it; stating, “It actually decreases yield and intensifies the wines.” And finally, it is a reflection of the black schist soils that resemble shards of broken black glass. The label with its original photo of broken glass further anchors and emphasizes these features.

Grapes were cold-soaked for 30 days to help further concentrate the wine, then fermented and aged in Maury, France, then bottled in St. Helena, California. Aged 10 months in French oak, 30% new.

Tasting Notes: Deep garnet in colour with enticing aromas of dark berries, pepper spice and a hint of vanilla. Rich, sleek layers of clean fruit [cherry, blackberry, red currant, pomegranate], chocolate and crushed black peppercorn are accented by silky tannins, whilst cigar box spice highlights the lengthy, fruit driven finish. A fantastic balance of lush fruit and spice with an elegant edge, do watch out for that 15.6% alcohol, as it does sneak right up.

100% Grenache
Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes
France
Imported & Bottled by Fracture, St. Helena, Napa County, California
15.6% Alcohol
$18
Enjoy now thru 2018

shatterback