When we're not drinking Washington wines, we often have French ones. When I started Esquin Wine Merchants in 1969, most of the wines we had were French. French wines are still one of our great loves. Here are our latest finds.
Rosé wine season is still not over yet. The French drink rosés year around and so do we. Here are a couple of winners.
2018 Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay Rosé ($27.99 - wine.com) - Marsannay is situated at the north end of the Côte de Nuits, just past Fixin. Made from Pinot Noir, this shows a brilliant pink color and lovely aromas of strawberry, red currant, tangerine, pink rose petals, pink lilac and pink incense. The flavors, as well, are captivating, with gently pressed fruits that are imbued with light grape skins and granitic minerals. The back picks up fraise and cassis liqueurs and recurring tangerine peel, followed buy a dry, juicy finish that is lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5+/20 points.
2018 Domaine de la Modorée Tavel Rosé , "La Dame Rousse" ($39.99 - wine.com) - This is the best Tavel Rosé we've tasted so far. Composed of 60% Grenache and 20% each of Cinsaiult and Syrah, it exhibits a beautiful copper-pink color and seductive aromas of raspberry, currant, pomegranate and orange peel with scents of pink roses, lavender, Provençal herbs and spiced pink incense. The flavors are as alluring as the aromas, with vivid, perfectly extracted red fruits that are imbued with grape skins, pomegranate seeds and mas soil minerals. The back reveals framboise and cassis liqueurs and recurring orange peel on the lingering precisely balanced dry finish. Lynn gives this three stars (highest rating): "Quinessential Tavel Rosé." 19.5/20 points.
2017 Château Fortia Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc ($44.99 - Esquin) - Most of the wine of Châteauneuf du Pape is red, but a small amount of white is produced. Produced from 70% Roussanne, 20% Clairette and 10% Grenache Blanc, this one shows a brilliant gold color and intense aromas of pear, peach, apricot, papaya, orange peel with scents of pear blossoms, honeysuckle, lemon verbena and white incense. The flavors are full bodied for a white, with layers of juicy white and yellow fruits that are infused with pear skin, apricot stone and mas cobblestone minerals. The resonance continues on the back with sensations of poire William and Grand Marnier liqueurs and touches of hazelnut and crème fraiche on lingering dry finish. I took this to a dinner party a few days ago and everyone was wowed by it. 19+/20 points.
2016 Brotte Châteauneuf du Pape, "Hautes de Barville" ($37.99 -Esquin) - This is a good buy in CdP. It shows a deep ruby-crimson color and rich, smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry and black currant with scents of black roses, mulberry, tobacco, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors are thick and generous, yet focused, with black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, French roast and minerals. The chewy textured back picks up roasted berries and nuts, mocha, grilled meats and charcoal, followed by a lingering ripe tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2017 Delas Crozes-Hermitage, "Les Launes" ($21.99 - wine.com) - This is a tasty young North Rhone Syrah. It shows a purplish-ruby color and rich aromas of black cherry, black currant, mulberry, tobacco, lavender and incense. The robust flavors are true to variety and direct, with notes of black licorice, dark cocoa, black tea and granitic minerals. The intensity continues on the back with macerated berries, grilled nut meats and burnt charcoal, followed by a spiced sweet-dry tannin finish. Excellent value. 18/20 points.
2016 Domaine Combier Crozes-Hermitage ($35.99 - wine.com) - This is a step up qualitatively from the above wine. It offers a deep purplish-ruby color and enticing aromas of raspberries, plums, black currants, crushed roses, mulberry, sweet tobacco, lavender, sage, anise and spiced incense. The medium full bodied flavors show terrific Syrah purity, with fleshy black and blue fruit that are infused with licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee beans and earth. The wine thickens on the back with sensations of roasted berries and nuts, mocha, framboise and cassis liqueurs, grilled meats and charcoal, followed by a satisfying ripe tannin finish that is lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay ($13.99 - Safeway) - From the birthplace of Chardonnay, this shows a brilliant gold color and pleasing aromas of apple, peach, citrus, apple blossoms, acacia flowers and white incense. Unencumbered by oak, the flavors are bright and true to variety, with notes of grape skin, peach stone and granitic minerals. The back picks up touches of pêche liqueur, hazelnut and creme fraiche on the way to a crisp finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages ($13.99 - Safeway) - This is an amiable Beaujolais. It displays a purplish ruby color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, currant, red roses, mulberry and whiffs of spiced incense. The medium bodied flavors are pleasingly plump, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, and a bit of earth. The back reveals fraise and cassis liqueurs, followed by a savory, nicely fruited soft tannin finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Lapierre + Pacalet "Cousins" Juliénas ($31.99 -wine.com) - From one of the top Crus Beaujolais, this wine offers a deep ruby color and expressive aromas of fraises de bois, black currants, black plums, crushed red roses, mulberry, tobacco leaf, orange peel and incense. The flavors, as well, are dramatic, with robust black and blue fruits that are infused with licorice, cocoa powder, black tea and granitic minerals. On the back, the wine turns chewy textured with macerated fruits, roasted nuts, mocha, recurring orange peel and pencil, lead, followed by a smooth moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.