Over the past few weeks, we have been drinking French and Italian wines from time to time for some variety and a change of pace from Washington wines. 

French Wines

2015 Jean-Paul Brun "Terres Dorées" Cotes de Brouilly ($21.99 - wine.com) - This Cru Beaujolais comes from the sun-drenched slopes above the town of Brouilly. It shows a purplish ruby color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cherry and currant, with scents of red roses, mulberry and white incense. The flavors are engaging, with notes of red licorice, cocoa powder and silicate minerals. The back picks up macerated berries, fraise liqueur and creme de cassis, followed by a supple yet vigorous moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.

2015 Domaine du Clos de Fief "Tradition" Juliénas ($25 - The Thief) - Here, Michel and Sylvain Tete have turned out a vivacious Cru Beaujolais. Deep purplish colored, it possesses enticing aromas of wild raspberries, black cherries, black currants, crushed roses, violets and sweet incense. The flavors, as well, are appealing, with vivid dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, French roast and minerals. The back reveals sensations of pressed fruits, framboise liqueur and creme de cassis, followed by a slightly grainy ripe tannin finish. The wine's vivacity gives it a plus. 18.5+/20 points.

See last week's Review Blog below for more about The Thief Fine Wine & Beer shop in Walla Walla.

2015 Domaine du Prieuré Savigny les Beaune, 1er Cru, Les Lavierès ($38.99 - Esquin) - Brick red colored, this wine possesses a rich, smoky nose of fraises de bois, cherry and red currant with scents of rose petals, tobacco, violets and spiced incense. The medium bodied flavors show definite Pinot Noir character, underlain with chocolate, French roast and earth. The back picks up kirsch and cassis liqueurs and light graphite on the way ro a slightly grainy moderate tannin finish. The distinct Burgundian character gives it 19/20 points.

2015 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Trinche" Bourgeuil ($25 - The Thief) - Produced from the Cabernet Franc grape, this Loire Valley red shows a deep ruby color and a rich smoky nose of black cherry, plum and black currant, with scents of black roses, pipe tobacco and spiced incense. The flavors are robust yet supple, with black fruits that are accompanied by notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and limestone minerals. The back pickup pressed berries, roasted nuts and toffee, followed by a sweet-dry moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.

2015 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage ($36 - The Thief) - Inky purple-ruby colored, this wine emits unmistakable Syrah aromas of black fruits - blackberries, black plums and black currants - with scents of crushed roses, pipe tobacco, lavender, violets and spiced incense. The flavors, as well, are varietally pure, with dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, dark cocoa, roasted coffee beans and earth. The penetration continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts, creme de cassis and pulverized charcoal, followed by a lengthy sweet-dry moderate tannin finish. 19/20 points.

N/V Champagne Jacques Copinet Brut Rosé ($45.99 - Esquin) - This was a hit at a recent birthday celebration. It shows a light pink color and fine streaming bubbles, with lovely aromas of wild strawberries and red currants, with scents of wildflowers, jasmine and wisteria. The flavors, as well are alluring, with vivid, delicate yet beautifully delineated red fruits that are imbued with grape skins and stony minerals. On the back, a simultaneously tingly and creamy texture emerges, leading into a complex true Brut finish. 19/20 points.

Italian Wines

2016 Pieropan Soave Classico ($16.99 - Full Pull) - When I owned the store, Esquin was the first to bring the Pieropan Soave into the Seattle market. We sold over a hundred cases a year of it in the 1980's. This is Leonildo Pierpan's 50th vintage. It shows a lemon straw color and attractive aromas of pear and white peach, with scents of pear blossoms and meadow flowers. The flavors are exquisitely textured, with notes of grape and pear skins and sandy minerals. The back reveals sensations of gently pressed fruits, liqueurs and toasted hazelnuts, followed by a dry finish. 18.5/20 points.

2015 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino ($25 - The Thief) - Rosso di Montalcino is a younger version of Brunello di Montalcino, usually from younger vines. This one shows a ruby-garnet color and smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, roses, mulberry, tobacco, oregano and incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with medium bodied red fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, Italian roast and minerals. The back picks up macerated berries, roasted nuts and dried cherries, followed by a dryish moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.

2012 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino ($58.99 - Esquin) - Argiano is a highly respected producer in Montalcino. Produced from the Sangiovese Grosso ("Brunello") grape, this exhibits a deep ruby-garnet color and intoxicating aromas of black cherry, plum, cassis, attar of rose, pipe tobacco, cedar, lavender and smoldering incense. The flavors are deep and powerful, yet velvety, with intermixtures of licorice, chocolate, Italian roast and stony minerals. The intensity continues on the back with sensations of roasted berries, nougat, dried cherries and almond liqueur, followed by a lingering, herb dusted classic Tuscan dryish finish. 19+/20 points.