Category Archives: France

Bouvachon Nomine 2008

CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE | FRANCE | $34

A savory wine, firm and balanced, showing dark berry fruit integrated with organic notes full of rich soil, cedar, bay, cardamom and tar. And some very pleasant barnyard. On the light side of medium bodied with forward mid-tones and a silky mouthfeel. Fruit and soil are nearly indistinguishable here, and the result is a wine of wonderfully even proportions. This pleasant and social guest blends perfectly with others, interrupts with such grace the repartee astonishes — it must be scripted, no? — and holds the interest of all without ever seeming to control or influence the conversation. A very good, nearly excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/28/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Clos du Mont-Olivet 2010

CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE | FRANCE | $48

Pepper tickles the nose with firm blackberry, red cherry and plum filling the palate, then flavors of cedar, dark-roast coffee and loamy soil, and then it’s back to a peppery finish. A beautiful song circle, repeated throughout. Unctuous on the palate and smooth with a glossy, silky texture giving way to a persistent finish. Stout in build as well as character, this loyal friend shoulders the load and returns again and again, never asking a thing in return. A very good wine. (Reviewed 10/28/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran 2010

BURGUNDY | FRANCE | $18

Mostly vertical fruit flavors of kumquat, nectarine and lemon with grassy and floral notes, limestone minerals and barely present oak adding horizontal range and complexity. Light, crisp, clean with a nice, slight acidity. A barefoot stroll through a country garden. Chardonnay. A good wine. (Reviewed 9/8/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, Chardonnay, France

Brotte Domaine Crosset 2010

COTES DU RHONE-VILLAGES CARANNE | FRANCE | $20
Raspberry and black cherry up front with mid-notes of cedar and hints of sage, chalk and cola. Fairly complex and slightly gamey, with a charming rustic quality. Medium bodied yet a light mouth feel with a soft-leather texture, drying tannins and a nicely acidic finish. Agile beyond her moderate girth. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre. A good to very good wine. (Reviewed 9/8/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

La Croix Peyrassol 2010

PROVENCE | FRANCE | $15

Young purple plum, raspberry and boysenberry with a bit mint, licorice, pepper and a note of citrus pith. Green tannins, nicely acidic, focused, medium bodied. She’s loud and wields a sharp wit, thought she can be tamed if given some time to air. 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah. A good wine. (Reviewed 6/15/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Merlot

Vignobles Brunier Le Pigeoulet en Provence Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2009

RHONE | FRANCE | $17

Young blackberry and raspberry fruit accented with herbal notes of thyme and bay, plus graphite, tar, licorice and a hint of camphor. Light-medium bodied, near weightless on the palate, with a perk of acidity and a slight tannic pucker. His repartee in excess, the introduction elicits some initial contempt; unable to break away, one’s mannered tolerance forces sufficient time for this character’s abundant charm and depth to eventually erode the chill. 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 5% Carignan. A good wine. (Reviewed 7/14/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Rhone, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Heidseick & Co. Monopole ‘Blue Top’ Brut NV

CHAMPAGNE | FRANCE | $37

Fresh straw and toasted almonds on the nose rewarding with flavors of tamarind, papaya, lemon zest, caramel, sandalwood and mild herbal notes. Wonderfully compact bubbles, clean and fresh on the palate, a creamy finish that lasts. It’s a breezy day at the seashore, sand between toes, warm salt air, cotton-ball clouds, dreams of sailing. Bubbly doesn’t get much better at under $40. A very good, near excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/14/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Sparkling Wine

Chateau de Marjolet Laudun Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009

RHONE | FRANCE | $16

Deep, ripe cherry and dark berry fruit showing notes of licorice, coffee, cardamom and chalk. Fruit flavors dominate but with balance. Full bodied, delivering a laden, satin mouth feel and a savory finish. Decanting or time in the glass — or perhaps more bottle age — opens up an initial tightness to reveal a lovely wine. Shy at first, a little coaxing brings out a vivacious charmer. 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. A good wine. (Reviewed 7/1/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Rhone, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Domaine Jean-Ernest Descombes Georges Duboeuf Morgon 2009

BURGUNDY | FRANCE | $16

Compact dark berry and cherry fruit with notes of spice, earth and smoke. Fairly complex, medium to full bodied, tightly wound showing some astringency. There’s a lot going on within a narrow range. It’s a deep thinker, fastidious with a closed, prickly demeanor as easily prone to outbursts as withdrawal. This Gamay varietal is a reasonably good value. Others have rated this quite highly; here, it’s a good wine. (Reviewed 6/15/12)

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Filed under $20 and less, France

Domaine Tempier Bandol 2008

PROVENCE | FRANCE | $36

Fresh raspberry, dark cherry and purple plum with flavors of bay, cedar, damp organic earth and a suggestion of gingerbread. Medium bodied, Well integrated with excellent balance and restraint. Transitions nicely from concentrated fruit to savory earth and spice notes and then to a perk of acidity on the finish. There’s a refined-but-rustic contradiction here. He’s a man about the world, alright — cultured, mannered and groomed — and yet his hands bear the patina of years tending the fields. Mostly Mourvedre with Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan. A very good wine (Reviewed 5/27/12)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre