Les Vignerons D’Estézargues ‘Cuvée des Galets’ Côtes du Rhône 2015

Winery: Les Vignerons D’Estézargues is a co-operative winery of 10 different growers in the small town of Estézargues, just west of Avignon. Founded in 1965, they became a pioneer for quality and individuality in their wines when in 1995 they began to vinify their wines separately and to make single cuvées from their best plots.

Winemaking: With nearly 1000 acres of vineyards, they are now one of the most modern and progressive co-ops in the Southern Rhône, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, low yields and small batch vinification. Believing in as little intervention as possible, they do not add external yeast, sugar, or enzymes in their production process. Sulphur is only added in minimal amounts during bottling, and their wines are neither refined nor filtered.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with enticing aromas of wild berry pie and earthy spice. Fresh wild strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and a drop of red currant are smeared over an earthy core and supported by grippy tannins. Black pepper and berry fruit return on the plush finish. Hearty and rustic, a fantastic value and versatile companion at the table.

Predominately Grenache with Carignon [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
Côtes du Rhône
France
Bottled by Les Vignerons D’Estézargues
14% Alcohol
$10 [average price]
Enjoy now

Chateau Malescasse Crus Bourgeois Haut-Medoc 2009

Estate: Located in Lamarque, in the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux, Château Malescasse was built in 1824. From its start, the estate has consistently appeared in wine broker’s records. As with many historical estates in the region, its fortunes have waxed and waned over the years. Its changed hands a few times, with many of the owners having the best intentions of restoring the buildings and vineyards. In 2012, the 40 hectare estate was purchased by Philippe Austruy, “a major player in the health sector”, but also known for his revitalization of the prestigious Commanderie de Peyrassol in Provence. Within only 3 years the buildings were renovated and restored, and soil surveys were done to optimize varietal plantings in the fine gravel terroir.

Philosophy: “To maintain the identity of each vintage and of the terroir, Château Malescasse works hand in hand with Nature, regarding its main role as one of fostering and developing.”

Winemaking: The estate practices sustainable viticulture. 72 hours of cold maceration prior to fermentation, then fermented for 3 weeks with regular racking. Malolactic fermentation was carried out in casks of which 35% were new wood, the wine then being aged for 12 months on fine lees.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, black pepper and a hint of earth. There is a savoury edge to the rich, dark fruit, pepper spice and earth. Velvety tannins compliment pepper dusted fruit and dark chocolate on the plush finish. Well balanced and easy drinking, great on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 3% Cabernet-Franc, 6% Petit Verdot
Haut-Medoc
France
Estate bottled by Chateau Malescasse
13.5% Alcohol
$22 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2018

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]
Enjoy now