2014 Clos Marie L’Olivette Pic Saint Loup

Back when I first started to visit the Languedoc in the 90s, the wines imported into the USA from the region of Pic Saint Loup were dominated by a few producers like Chateau La RoqueChateau Lascaux, and L’Hortus. Sure there was the occasional Lancyre that found its way in, and others like Cazeneuve and Mas Bruguière had fleeting moments of visibility, but by and large, eventually it was the Kermit Lynch trio of Ermitage du Pic, Lascaux and La Roque plus L’Hortus that led the way.

The more I visited the hilltop region, the more I found other producers who were not only making wines on par with La Roque and Lascaux but like L’Hortus were forging their own path, finding a USA importer and making wines that stood out. Clos Marie was one of them.

The first tasting I had of Clos Marie came at a small roadside restaurant in Lauret, the town where Clos Marie is. From there, I drove to visit the winery, to end up tasting with the grandmother of Christophe Peyrus, tasting four or five wines that the small winery made. Eventually, a few importers started to bring Clos Marie into the USA, and it would show up here and there. Thankfully, the 2014 Clos Marie L’Olivette Pic Saint Loup is one of those now available.

Here’s a typical Pic Saint Loup red blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but unlike Mourvedre from other parts of the Languedoc where Mourvedre is usually the second or third grape in the blend, in the Pic, the Mourvedre take the reigns. I’m not sure why, but for some reason when it comes from the vineyards that dot the mountain top Pic region, the Mourvedre has a certain quality that puts it on par with the great Mourvedre vineyards of Bandol.

Just as there are striking differences between wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux or the Rhone and Bandol, Pic St. Loup wines are different from other parts of the Occitaine. Often they are more akin to Gigondas and Vacqueyras, where the stony hillsides and ancient hillsides produce wines of great power from their chalky base, than neighboring villages where the wines are more lush and juicy when young.

The 2014 Clos Marie L’Olivette is that kind of wine. As the small winery’s entry-level wine, here’s a ready to drink now.

It’s a big gun red that is full of black raspberry, ripe blueberry, black pepper and a lush strawberry base that all blends with the Languedoc’s sister to Provencale herbal aromas, la Garrigue. That’s where the whiff of rosemary, thyme, and sage hits the fruit, giving the wine the telltale sign that it’s from the Pays d’Oc.

And for those factors and many more, it’s why the 2014 Clos Marie L’Olivette Pic Saint Loup is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day.

2018 La Liebre y la Tortuga

After a fast four days and many stops in wine bars, bodegas, tabernas, and restaurants in Madrid my love of exciting racy white wines with character was revived just as it was in Lyon with those delightful Beaujolais Blancs and then again in the Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitaine). On the trip, the joy of brilliantly crafted, fruit driven, elegant, and soft wines triggered back many of the reasons that led me to want to share my views on wine. 

One of the joys of the trip was tasting wines from Rías Baixas region, where the Albariño evokes so much goodness and serves as the ideal complement for anything that comes out of the water, or just needs to be drunk all by itself.

The 2018 La Liebre y La Tortuga Albarino Rias Baixas from Fento Wines is that kind of wine. Coastal climate in nature, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and grown on weathered sandy granite soils, it’s a young wine meant to be drunk young. It’s vibrant. It’s fresh tasting. It’s lively, and most of all, it’s fruit driven. As Albarino wines go, the 2018 La Liebre y La Tortuga Albarino sets a mark for the vintage. It has style and grace that’s comes from the slightly green tinged color that also makes it so seductive.

Aromas of passion fruit and citrus fruit capture your attention. Then comes the lemon, lime, orange and lemon zest appealing flavors on the first and through until the last sip.

It’s a not so much the charm the 2018 La Liebre y La Tortuga Albarino, brings, but the enjoyment that it delivers as you sit back, and just drink it.

That’s why the 2018 La Liebre y La Tortuga Albarino is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day!!

2017 Domaine Jaume Generation Cotes du Rhone – Vinosobres

Wines offered by the glass in bistros and brasseries across Paris, and all of France, always include some of the most lovely, easy to drink, everyday wines which drink so well that you just want to enjoy them without stopping.

That’s what the 2017 Domaine Jaume Generation is. It’s a stunning red bistro wine that is rarely found on store shelves, but when it is, it’s always one to buy.

Here’s a low alcohol red wine that’s full of gorgeous cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit. The Generation is a blend of  Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre and has a lush fruity bouquet, that is different than 2016, which was mostly spice and pepper on the nose.

While the fruit rules the glass, there’s also lovely star anise and licorice appeal to the wine that makes it a perfect match for French country style cooking.

That’s why the 2017 Domaine Jaume Generation is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day!!!

2014 Eric Texier Brezeme Vieilles Vignes Cotes du Rhone

When you think of Cotes du Rhone reds normally Grenache based blends come to mind. But a few producers like to go with a single varietal, and again, the nod usually goes to Grenache.

Not so with Eric Texier, a pioneering winemaker in the region known as the Ardeche that sits just outside the best Northern Rhone regions. Texier hunts for grapes from around the Rhone, finding old vine parcels that have never seen the onslaught of pesticides and chemicals. While “natural” wine is often tossed around these days, and Texier is “natural” he’s a serious winemaker, working with serious fruit from old vine vineyards. 

Take the 2014 Eric Texier Brezeme Vieilles Vignes. Here’s an old vine, all Syrah red, that would stand up to a Cote Rotie from the same vintage. Having tasted Texier’s wines since the 2000 vintage, the longeviity he get from good to very good harvests is mind blowing.  What Texier also gets from the wines he makes is intense layer upon layer of fruit.

In the case of the 2014 Eric Texier Brezeme Vieilles Vignes is the smokey quality of the Syrah that evokes that Cote-Rotie sensation, along with brambly blueberries, hints of bacon and black and white pepper.

This is a wine that is a standout both in value and quality, and that’s why the 2014 Eric Texier Brezeme Vieilles Vignes is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day.

2017 Domaine de Fondreche Persia Rouge Ventoux

Wines of the Ventoux region of France continue to make a mark on the wine scene for those in the know.  One of the early producers from the mountain region that has steadily left a favorable impression on wine shop owners in the USA who know what’s going to be the real deal is Domaine de Fondreche, a smart, well-positioned producer whose wines have been gracing my own cellar and table since 2010. It’s now time for their wines to reach yours.

Fondreche is one of the regions’ producers that should be thought of as one of the “benchmark” brands from the Ventoux region. Fondreche, like Chateau UnangChataue PesquieChene Bleu, Juvenal, Vintur, Clos de Trias, Martinelle, St. Jean du Barroux and others was very visible at Decouvertes du Rhone last month.

Between that event week long event and Ventoux Rising, Fondreche, and the others showed off high quality, fine and elegant wines that are helping to draw attention to the area,  standing apart from negociant and cooperative grade bottlings that have long seen wider distribution.

While the Fondreche Ventoux Rouge bottling has always been a great “go-to” choice, vs. Cotes du Rhones, it’s the high-grade Persia release that always grabs my attention. It just requires a bit of patience.

The 2017 Domaine de Fondreche Persia Rouge Ventoux is a knockout. Made from 90% Syrah and 10 % Mourvèdre that spends a year in large oak barrels of both barriques and foudres size, it’s a spicy, juicy, mouth-filling red wine that never quits.

Layers of pie-filling blueberry and black raspberry fruit follow the rich, lush, spicy nose of black pepper and licorice, and some chocolate/carob scents. While you’ll want to drink it now, as it’s already an irresistible red wine, history has shown that the Persia ages very well, and from fruit forward years like 2017 was, will be even better in 5-7 years if you can keep your hands off the bottles.

That’s why the 2017 Domaine du Fondreche Persia Ventoux Rouge is today’s WineSiders Wine of The Day!

2017 Alta Mora Etna Bianco

As the spring weather turns warmer, finding food-friendly whites becomes the name of the game of wine hunting. To me finding those white wines is as much as a challenge as discovering summer weight reds that can hit the mark as well.

The wines from Sicily’s Alto Mora are those type of wines, without question as their whites, reds, and roses are some of the best from the Mt. Etna area of the island.

Take the 2017 Alta Mora Etna Bianco. Here’s a white wine made from the Carricante grape that has the palate style of a fine White Burgundy, but shows a total lack of any oak as it’s vinified in stainless steel, much like the way Chablis is made in Burgundy.

It’s a wine that’s fresh from the first sip to the last, and which conveys fruit without sweetness. That is so apparent as the young vines of 15 years of age give off that lovely and charming freshness of youth in the glass.

The aromatics remind you of fresh pulled rosemary, thyme and sage, with hints of flinty wet stones and green apples. As you taste the wine, you get a lovely citrus flavor of limes and ripened lemons that move out of the way for a more green apple and white pear finish.

As Italian white wines go the 2017 Alta Mora Etna Bianco is a lovely wine that’s great with shellfish and light tomato-based pasta dishes and is one to seek out. 

And for all those reasons and more, it’s why the 2017 Alta Mora Etna Bianco is today’s WineSider’s Wine of The Day!!!

2017 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos del Bierzo

Legendary winemakers come from everywhere. And winemakers like Alvaro Palacios make wines eveywhere they can in Spain.

Palacios finds vineyards and sources of grapes and like an artist with a blank canvas, but with lots of paint, he figures out what is going to be best at the moment from each region and for each wine he makes.

While some wines of Palacios carry high price tags, the most enjoyable,  approachable and entry level wine year after year is his 2017 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos del Bierzo.

Made on the ouside western edge of Bierzo from the Mencia grape, the red wine is a prototype for the region, much like the Guigal’s Cotes du Rhone is for the Rhone Valley. In many ways the comparison is valid, as Palacios produces over 300,000 bottles of the wine that has a kinship in flavor profile, as the strawberry base of vibrant, lively and deep fruit is much like the Grenache based Rhone standard flag waving wine.

It’s lush, without being sappy. It’s forceful, without being overpowering. And most of all, it’s drinking well right now, or will age gracefully for many, many years.

That’s why the 2017 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos del Bierzo. is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day!!!

2017 Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine Castilla y León – Sardón de Duero

When your winery is known for producing amazing red wines, and you start making a white wine, it better be great. Well that’s what Abadia Retuerta has done with the second year release of their  Le Domaine.

The 2017 Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine from the Castilla y Leon region is made from mostly Sauvignon Blanc, and a very small amount of Verdejo. The masterfully made white is not like a Loire region Sancerre or a like many of the widely found Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand at all in style, bouquet or flavor. 

In many ways the the Spanish white wine has a deeper kinship to the white wines of Bordeaux. There the richness and crispness are in perfect balance, making for a very elegant, and very upscale white.

While this wine has seen five months in barriques,  you can hardly tell, as the wine doesn’t show any hint of oak. Instead you receive a straw pale gold colored wine with loads of sub-tropical fruit and a light spice bouquet.  Notes of fresh pineapple, grapefuit and honeydew melon come through from first sip to the last. Then some smokey notes and a long, ripe fruit like lingering finish tops things off.

That’s why the 2017 Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day!!!

2016 Domaine Richaud L’Ebrescade

In the village of Cairanne sits one of the Rhones under-celebrated wineries, Domaine Richaud. 

Tim Johnston of Paris’ Juveniles Wine Bar fame, was who first tipped me off to Marcel Richaud’s wines, stressing just how rock solid and true to form they are. Over the years whenever I’m in the Rhone and see a Richaud wine on offer by the glass I make a point of including one in my tasting routine. 

Cairanne is one of those regions that was not an AOC of its’ own until recently, so like wines from Baumes de Venise, the Ventoux and Rasteau, they often are unfairly past over for the likes of wines from Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape .

On any scale, Richaud’s wines measure up with the best. The 2016 Domaine Richaud L’Ebrescade is a powerhouse blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and in many ways can be thought of as the textbook and defining example of what a well made, well balanced and food friendly GSM should be.

Posessing a deep purple color, with a concentrated blueberry and blackberry bouquet, the wine is saturated with gobs of fruit, with hints of pepper, black tar and coal.

It’s a great wine now, or in ten years time, and that’s why the 2016 Domaine Richaud L’Ebrescade is todays’ WineSiders’ Wine of The Day!!!

2015 Cerra Gallina Bobal

Travel makes for interesting discoveries. Having crossed into Spain the wines have been very different from what was in the Rhone, Languedoc, Roussillion and even Beaujolais.

The many different Spanish wine regions are each extremely distinctive. Wines from Mallorca like Anima Negra and Oliver Moragues (aka as OM), local wines from the area surrounding Madrid. Elegant wines made in Bierzo from Mencia, the Rhone like reds from Priorat, racy whites from Gallicia, Penedes and more. Then of course there’s Riojas and Ribera del Dueros, so well known and yet so many Spanish wines remain undiscovered.

That approach led me to the wine from Cerra Gallina, a small producer from just outside of Valencia in the village of Campo Arcis, not far from the hill where the winery gets its name.

The main grape that Cerra Gallina works with is Bobal, an indiginous grape that is native to the Utiel-Requena region in southeastern Spain.

The 2015 Cerra Gallina Bobal is killer. It’s a heartbeating, chest thumping powerhouse, tour de force of sheer wreckless abandon and pleasure in the glass.

Made from 90 year old vines, the red wine is something to behold. It’s fruity, yet strong. It’s palate weight is mighty, but at the same time fresh and elegant. 

It’s a jammy wine that conjurs up the aromas of bing cherries, blackberries, blueberries and black currants, along with some black tea. 

The wine just so downright impressive, that’s why the 2015 Cerra Gallina Bobal  is today’s WineSiders’ Wine of The Day..