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This Week's Tasting

Character and Precision from Southern France
March 29, 2017

Exciting wines are coming out if the South of France. Old grapes, new winemaking, new vineyards and the revival of old are all creating a ferment that is making for tasty wines for drinking now. Reds this week; whites and a rose or two to come.


Woman Reading


The 2015 Domaine Servans is Cotes du Rhone the way they usta, big and rounded with heady low tones and broad mouth filling fruit. But the current, fourth generation Garniers, who have been farming the estate for just shy of 100 years have modernized, organic farming for one change, that have smoothed out thehier wines’ rough edges while keeping its character.

The Terrasses de Larzac were long a backwater near Montpellier in the Languedoc. Winemakers have discovered that their cooler hill vineyards can make for finer more nuanced wines than in the hotter plains below. Domaine Coston’s  organic, biodynamic blend of  Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvedre a\has the flavors of the south, but the kind of balance between structure fruit and acids that you would find in more elegantly structured Bordeaux or northern Rhone wines. Great price, too.

The Carignan grape used to be planted and denigrated all over the Midi. It formed the sharp and stemmy backbone of gros rouge, the cheap, uncheerful plonk that French workers used to anesthetize themselves. More recently growers have discovered how its older vines make wines whose acidity is tamed into something that is quite good with food, adding a seasoning parallel to very mild chili pepper. The 2012 La Font De. l'Olivier Carignan’s Vieilles Vignes are 75 to 100 years old, make for a wine that is now mature, its spice nicely rounded balanced out with fruit and s small addition of oak.

The Costieres de Nimes lies south of the Rhone valley, in Provence. Ch. Virgile’s Cuvee l'Eneide is their magnum opus, a richly oaked fully fruited Syrah dominated blend. It is a wonderful wine, Rhonish equivalent of a rich Napa cabernet, but with more intriguing spice flavors.

Mourvedre is the main grape of Bandol, a small appellation on the coast just to the west of the Riviera It makes for a darkly deep heady wine, sometimes with overtones of anise, smoke or leather. Too often it can sit in the bottle sullenly for years, refusing to give up any of its intricacies. Not so the 2014 Bastide Blanche.  Open two hours, it had all the grace and complexity I would have wanted, perfect with steak or other red meats. Bettane & Desseauve  called it “impressive.” I agree not only for its appeal, but for its low price for the appellation.

We Have waited a long tome for the Domaine de la Biscarelle Chateauneuf du Pape Les Anglaises  to arrive, but the  wait is well worth it. It is a chateauneuf more of grace and complexity than power, a la Ch. Rayas with which it has been compared. Les Anglaises is a single vineyard of 100 year old Grenache wines. Its wine is seductively intricate and fine, one that draws you back for a second and third taste.



2015 Domaine Servans Cotes du Rhone - Organic; Aroma: juicy  forward, juicy rather forward, fresh, ; Mouth: clean fresh juicy, bright acidity, lively very pleasant, long in  the mouth, ; Very Good 13.99; Mixed Case, 12.59; Case, 11.89

2014 Domaine Coston Terrasses de Larzac - Organic; Aroma: light on the Attack, spicy black cherry, sweet garrigue notes, fresh clean rather firm; Mouth: juicy herbal lifted notes, rounded rather complete nice spicy raspberry, tangy edge long; Very Good Plus 16.99; Mixed Case, 15.29; Case, 14.44

2012 La Font De. l'Olivier Carignan Vieilles Vignes; Aroma: heady rather dense, full,  juicy dense, sandalwood, heady evocative, soft mellowed, evocative   fragrant, ; Mouth: smooth clean juicy, rounded, clean back, fine acidity, balanced, fine mouthfeel, light on the finish, very long; Very Good Plus 21.99; Mixed Case, 19.79; Case, 18.69

2014 Ch. Virgile Costieres de Nimes Cuvee l'Eneide; Aroma: very heady very rich dense, light oak, rather extracted, heady very clean, pretty, floral rosy, rather oaky; Mouth: smooth very rich oaky, rather dense fleshy extracted, rather firm, rather dense, thick long ; Very Good Plus 19.99; Mixed Case, 17.99; Case, 16.99

2014 Bastide Blanche (Bronzo) Bandol ; Color: very dark  black red; Aroma: heady rather funky, earthy, rather dense, spicy, ; Mouth: clean lightish, rather herbal, very dense fine acidity, rather firm, finely delineated, long; Very Good Plus 29.99; Mixed Case, 26.99; Case, 25.49

2013 Domaine de la Biscarelle Chateauneuf du Pape Les Anglaises; Aroma: heady very rich, pure, very clean, rasher firm, very dense, very ripe, very dense, ; Mouth: very dense rather rich, very full, smooth, a clean bright acid back, rich very dark, smooth concentrated fine elegant tannins, pure, very pretty, very fine, of a piece; Excellent 57; Mixed Case, 51.3; Case, 48.45


3-29 Southern France Case: Special, two each of the above wines - $273

Instore only 3-29 Southern France Pack: One each of the above - $144


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           - Len Rothenberg


(c) Federal Wine and Spirits Inc. 2017