A bit bigger and bolder wine than we usually do during the oppressive heat of Summer, but a chance to feature a great deal on wines like this have to get showcased when they happen. Plus there appears to be a cool-down on the horizon this weekend, so there's a possibility you can enjoy this wine without being drenched in sweat. Domaine des Bosquets is one of the poster children of the Gigondas appellation, showing how this 'lesser' address can easily match and often exceed the quality of their more famous neighbor Chateaunuef-du-Pape. Fewer estates in Gigondas bottled their own wines than CNDP did historically, so the reputation for distinction took longer to build in the public's eye. Bosquets was purchased by the Brechet family in 1987 and established the property and their 65 acres as a standard bearer. With the exception of two tiny single parcel wines and a small amount of Rose, this is the focus of the estate, built from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault, just like many of the big name wines down by the Pope's castle. But few if any of them can match what you're getting from this wine for the money.
From a more restrained vintage than has been the case in recent years, the aromas start out with just as much ripe red berry and raspberry as it does savory herbs and underbrush, more of a traditional profile. Plenty of complexity to be had, just not as much of the opulent and obvious warm fruits smacking you in the face. Loads of dark fruit and rich texture on the palate as well, surprisingly lush and silky as well considering the youth and savory flavor profile. Letting the wine open up more brings out a lot more of the red fruits and sweetens the palate a fair bit, but it isn't needed to soften out the tannins and texture, which also help to bring out the game and Provencal herbs through the finish. A great option for a little finer cut of meat coming off the grill this weekend, or one to stash away and savor in the cooler indoor months.
Not all Rose wines are created equally, especially in Virginia. Many are made just to satisfy the demand for a trend, leaving a bit of sugar behind just to distract from the blase quality of mediocre grapes and make it somewhat palatable. Grapes that are good enough to make decent Rose are usually needed to make more of the red wines, so there never seems to be enough of the good stuff to last through the Summer. One of the reasons we like what Early Mountain is doing with their rose program is they take it seriously from the very beginning of the growing season, designating blocks of vines to go into the wine and preparing it all the way through harvest. These blocks are harvested earlier than the rest of the harvest to retain acidity and pull out the refreshing lower alcohol character that makes the best Provencal wines so desirable. No afterthought assembly here.
Primarily a Merlot base, this year's creation has a strong influence from Syrah (a rarely planted grape in VA) and touches of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Beautiful pale salmon color in the glass, the aromas capture the refreshingly dried side of cherries and strawberries, with a nice pop of fresh herbs and rainwater. The palate is straight out of the Provence textbook as well, mouthfilling and quenching at the same time with lots of tingly acidity and clean light fruit. This has no interest in being a fruity cocktail wine, but a perfect brunch or snacking wine with ceviche or light cheeses as well as cool salmon or chicken dishes.
INSIDER'S PICK: 2015 QUINTA DO PASSADOURO 'PASSA' VINHO BRANCO (Wine Advocate 89points) $14.99
On some of our hottest days of the year, few among us will be thinking about drinking Port over the next few weeks. The famous fortified wine has been the most significant product from the Douro River valley for centuries, but the demand has decreased greatly in the last few decades. To survive, more wineries are having to make wines for all seasons, and the development of more everyday white and red wines has blossomed. The new-found diversity is great for the adventurous consumer, as it brings lesser known grapes and flavors to the table for generally outstanding prices. The Passadouro vineyard has roots back to the famous Niepoort Port house (at one point featured as its own single Quinta bottling), now exemplify the positive changes of the Douro and providing a full portfolio of whites and reds at various prices that deliver the goods.
Built from local grapes varieties Rabigato and Códega do Larinho, the first pour shows lots of lime and green citrus aromas, a bit of cool mint and rainwater, with every signpost pointing towards the wine being completely refreshing. The first sip absolutely follows through with juicy quenching flavors that follow the aromas, nicely rounded on the palate thanks to some extra aging on the lees, bright and tart on the finish with world class levels of nerve that makes you salivate with an almost Pavlovian lack of control. The complexity builds as it gets warmer, but a wine this good won't be in the glass very long to let that happen. A great addition to the everyday rotation and perfect for light seafood dishes.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!