So if we told you 6 of our 24 wines in this month’s Pick 24 selection hail from France, what is your visceral reaction? Are you familiar with French wines and your ears perk up? Or does the subject feel overwhelming and your eyes glaze over? Maybe it is the seemingly unpronounceable names or the huge variety produced in one country, but when it comes to France, we find spending a little time talking about the details demystifies the subject, can be very rewarding and actually make French wine as approachable as, say… apple pie.
So this month we are super excited to feature several wines from the Rhône River and Loire Valleys in France. The wine that has us saying Mon Dieu! is one we’ve been seeking out for years and is a brand new offering for us. It is almost impossible to find in the USA, much less Indiana… it is a Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley. It is a rarity because the French normally do not export this grape from this region, yet The Alphonse Dolly Pinot Noir 2011, is so delightful we are more than grateful they did. It has flavors of Bing cherry as well as toast, mineral and spice. It gets four stars from us and is a great value. Also hailing from the Garden of France is Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Sec 2008, which is a more traditional expression from the Loire with its bright acidity, and the La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc 2011 that captures the herbaceous hints of the river valley and one of the few wineries in the area to utilize the more modern screw cap.
Equally exciting is this wine from the Rhône River Valley, the Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2011. Normally a region associated with earthy reds, comes a white that is fuller in body than most Viognier blends. In fact, rumor has it that it is so full-bodied and rich that if served at room temperature in a blind taste test, the panel cannot determine if it is a red or white wine. Hmmm, anyone willing to try this? The final French wine in this selection originates from our 2012 Winery of the Year – Saint Cosme. From the estate Les Deux Albion comes the 2010 that is Classique Gigonda in its roasted, espresso, and tobacco complexity. Simply délicieux.
Traveling back to this side of the pond, we are thrilled about a couple of Malbecs from Argentina. The Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape that needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature and Argentina has the perfect climate to extract small, tight clusters of this intense, velvety grape. Norton Malbec Reserve 2009 has dark berry, spice and licorice flavors that amusingly play off one another. And the Luca Malbec 2009, which spent 16 months in 60% new French oak, displays a fragrant perfume of lavender and is an easygoing Malbec with hidden structure and a lengthy, fruit-filled finish. At 92 points from Wine Advocate we think this normally $32.99 wine is a total steal at $23.99 this month only.
A little closer to home are a few domestic wines that beautifully round out our selection. One, from Napa Valley, California is the Saintsbury Vincent Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2011, this delicate refreshing pink wine made from the Pinot Noir grape is food-friendly and ideal for our Easter celebrations later this month; whether it’s a brunch or dinner this will pair perfectly with all traditional Easter fare we’re so looking forward to. The other is Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. If you want to see our wine buyer’s eyes light up, just mention this wine to her! Why is she so smitten? Well, Owen Roe is being touted as the next “Orin Swift” of the wine world. Stylistically similar in taste profile as well as the maverick mentality, this is a winery to watch and producer that will no doubt have his hands full keeping up with the demand.
If any of these wines peak your interest, just find the Pick 24 isle at Vine & Table and see for yourself why we love these wines. Not sure what you’ll like best? We can help you with that, join us for our Pick 24 Release Party Wednesday, March 6th, when we’ll crack open all 24 wines and give you the opportunity to ‘Try Before You Buy’ and we guarantee you’ll find just the right wine, to enjoy all month long at just the right price.