Here are some French and California wines we've tried lately.
New French Wines
N.V. Luc Belaire Rare Rosé Sparkling Wine ($33.98 - Super 1, Walla Walla) - One of the best selling French bubblies in the U.S., this displays a gorgeous copper-pink color, streaming bubbles and enticing aromas of strawberry, black currant, blood orange, crushed roses, lavender and orange incense. The flavors, as well, are attention-getting, with red and orange fruits that are intermixed with grape skins and minerals. The resonance continues on the back with fraise and cassis liqueurs and orange peel, enlivened by CO2 on the lasting off-dry ("sec") finish. "Absolutely delicious," says Lynn. 18.5+/20 points.
N.V. Bourdaire Gallois Champagne Extra Brut ($58.99 - Esquin) - Produced from Pinot Meunier, a red grape usually used for blending with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is an extraordinary Champagne. It displays a brilliant amber color, streaming bubble and lovely aromas of pear, peach, strawberry and blood orange, with scents of pear and orange blossoms, jasmine and orange incense. The flavors are dynamic, with white and orange fruits that are energized by CO2 and brisk fruit acids and accented by toast and roasted hazelnuts, followed by a lingering Extra Brut (under 6 g/L dosage) finish. 19+/20 points.
N.V. Perrier-Jouët Champagne Grand Brut ($69.99 - Safeway) - Back in about 1976, Esquin was the first to offer Perrier-Jouët Champagne in Seattle, including the famous "Belle Epoque" flower bottle. The current rendition offers a brilliant gold color, persistent bubbles and floral aromas of apple, peach, lemon custard, brioche, apple blossoms and acacia flowers. The flavors are simultaneously brisk and elegant, with vivid white fruits that are accented by grape skins minerals. The bubbles keep on coming along with bracing acids and touches of cream and toast on the lingering true Brut finish. 19+/20 points.
2020 Domaine Pascal Berthier Mâcon-Chaintré "Roxanne" ($21.99 - Esquin) - Chaintré is situated just outside of Pouilly-Fuissé in the Maconnais. This one offers a brilliant lemon-gold color and floral aromas of pear-apple, white peac, lemon, apple blossoms, acacia flowers and white incense. The flavors are vivid, pure Chardonnay, with notes of pear skins, peach stones and granitic minerals. The vibrancy continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs and lemon zest, followed by a minerally, juicy Pouilly-Fuissé-like finish. Super value. 18.5/20 points.
2020 Domaine Nôtre Dame des Pallierès Gigondas, "La Mourre" ($32.99 - Esquin) - Ever since we offered one from Château Raspail at Esquin in 1970, Gigondas has been one our favorite South Rhône wines, usually made primarily Grenache (here, 80%) with Syrah (10%) and Mourvèdre (10%). Here, we have a tasty version with a deep ruby color and intense aromas of blackberry, blueberry, black currant, black roses, pipe tobacco, lavender, olive and spiced incense. The flavors are deliciously mouth filling, with black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, black tea and Montmirial minerals. On the back, the wine fills out with crème de cassis, blueberry preserves and charcoal, followed by a spiced (nutmeg, clove) ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2020 Domaine Nôtre Dame des Pallierès Gigondas, "Bois des Mourres" ($35.99 - Esquin) - This comes from a higher elevation site, just below the Bois des Mourres. From the same grape percentages as above, it shows a deep ruby color and intense aromas of blackberries, mountain blueberries and b, lavlack currants, with scents of crushed roses, sweet tobacco, lavender and sweet incense. The flavors are deep and mouth encompassing, with black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, French roast and hillside minerals. The penetration continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts and a bit of oak, followed by a satisfying ripe tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2020 Brotte Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, "Hautes de Barville" ($40.99 - Esquin) - Most Châteauneuf du Pape is red, but a small amount of white wine is produced, this one from Grenache Blanc. It shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and striking aromas of Asian pear-apple, white peach, Crenshaw melon and grapefruit. with scents of apple blossoms, jasmine and wet mas stones. The flavors are bright and brisk, laser-like, with white fruits that are accented by grape and pear skins and minerals. The resonance continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs, melon rind and grapefruit peel on the lingering finish. 19/20 points.
Goin' to Cali
Back in the 1980's, we sold a lot of California Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Customers would buy them by the case for everyday drinking. Bogle was a popular brand, along with other good ones like Pedroncelli, Parducci and Sebastiani. We picked up these two which are still great values.
2020 Bogle Petite Sirah, California ($8.99 - Super 1) - Petite Sirah is not a Syrah, but actually Durif. Ruby-crimson colored, this version emits ripe aromas of raspberry, cranberry, black currant, purple lilac, mulberry, tobacco and cracked pepper. The flavors are ample, yet robust, with red fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cola, roasted coffee beans and earth. On the back, the wine fills out with roasted berries and nuts, mocha, creme de cassis and charcoal, followed by a ripe moderate tannin finish. 18/20 points.
2019 Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel, California ($8.99 - Super 1) - This version shows a ruby color and rich, smoky aromas of raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plum, black roses, sagebrush and spiced incense. The flavors are ample yet deep, with black and red fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, espresso and red earth. The wine builds up on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts and kirsch on the way to a juicy spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg) warm moderate tannin finish. 18/20 points.
We're always on the lookout for good values in California Pinot Noir. Here are two from the North Coast.
2020 Bewitched Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($20.99 - Safeway) - The Russian River Valley is a top area for Pinot Noir. This one offers a brick red color and smoky aromas of strawberry, cherry, red currant, red roses, tobacco leaf, orange peel, and stick incense. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with red fruits that are intermixed with red licorice, cocoa powder, orange pekoe tea and alluvial minerals. The back picks up pressed fruits, toasted pecans, fraise and cassis liqueurs and recurring orange peel, followed by a supple moderate tannin and acid finish. 18+/20 points.
2020 La Crema Pinot Noir, North Coast ($28.99 - Safeway) - Since 1979, La Crema put the North Coast on the map with their well made Pinots and Chardonnays. This shows a deep brick red color and enticing aromas of fraises de bois, cherries, red currants, crushed roses, tobacco leaf, rubbed sage and sweet incense. The flavors are deliciously supple, with copious red fruits that are intermixed with red licorice, cocoa powder, orange pekoe tea and coastal minerals. The appeal continuesmon the back with pressed berries, fraise and cassis liqueurs and No. 2 pencil lead, followed by a smooth moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.