Ogier Lirac "Lou Caminé" ($17.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the distributor:
“'Remain close to the source in order to better understand the
constraints, but also harness its potential.'” This maxim guides
Ogier’s principles in producing some of the most awarded wines
from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. The estate’s vineyards
are spread throughout several small valleys, covered in its hallmark
round pebbles and stones. By reflecting the sun’s heat, this stony soil
enables grapes to retain exceptional levels of ripeness to produce
large-bodied and complex wines that make Ogier one of the foremost
houses in the Rhône Valley.
Sheltered in a very quiet place, the Lirac grows away from the beaten
track, also called “caminé” in Provencal language. That is why this
cru, which was born during the Middle Age, makes high quality
wines. Its red fruits and garrigue aromas bring a typical roundness.
80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre
Beautiful intensity and deep ruby color. Bouquet of red and black
fruits, garrigue and spices. Gains complexity and develops notes of
leather, liquorice, truffle and cocoa with ageing. Well balanced with
tannic, aromatic strength balancing the characteristic fullness and
smoothness. Significant ageing potential."
This wine is a great crossover for people who love California Cabs; it's got the body and smoothness, with a rich, dark flavor. It drinks like a wine nearly twice its price. A great introduction to Rhône blends!
Avalon Red Blend ($11.99)
From the producer:
"Avalon BLEND is made with California’s most exciting red varietals:
Zinfandel: Provides a plush and juicy base of ripe blackberry and spicy black pepper notes.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Adds black cherry fruit and lush tannins which provides structure to the wine.
Tannat: Lends a bright red cherry top note complementing the wine’s dark fruit.
Petite Sirah: Deep and dark in color, Petite Sirah also contributes a dose of ripe blueberry and boysenberry fruit.
Big, bold and jammy blackberry, cherry fruit flavors mingle with a hint of black pepper spice on the palate followed by supple tannins and a long, smooth finish."
Some of the larger production blends can be a little full-on, but this one has more complexity than most. The addition of Tannat keeps it from being too overbearingly fruity, but the judicious use of oak aging keeps it smooth and supple.