Beaumes-de-Venise

Rhône Valley Values to Warm-Up Your Winter - Featuring Franck Balthazar!

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Franck Balthazar in Cornas is making beautiful wines, continuing the old-fashioned winemaking of his father René while converting the estate to organic agriculture and vinvfying with minimal sulfites. Today we feature his sensational 2011 Côtes du Rhône Syrah, from vines just outside the Cornas AOC. This is a great value, exhibiting the complex aromatics of the northern Rhône in a supple, luscious style to be enjoyed over the next few years. We've included our best values from the Rhône Valley, north and south (with a special nod to our friends at La Ferme Saint-Martin in Beaumes-de-Venise) so whether you prefer Syrah or Grenache you'll find superb wines to accompany hearty winter meals, all at remarkably affordable prices!

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Balthazar 2011 Cotes-du-Rhône

This is a sensational Cotes-du-Rhône Syrah from Franck Balthazar, one of the most traditional winemakers in the northern Rhône, made from young vines just outside the Cornas appellation, organically farmed. The aromas are deep and round – ripe blackberry, violet, mint with a hint of smoked meat, really superb. The palate is supple and bright with mintly black and blueberry fruit, with hints of rose-petal. Balanced and eminently gulpable, this is in the style of the Gonon Les Iles Feray and will give great satisfaction over the next few years. A great value and highly recommended!

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  • $20.99

Balthazar, Franck 2005 Cornas Chaillot

Mainly from 90 year-old vines in Chaillot, two-week whole bunch fermentation, aged in old 500 liter casks. Franck Balthazar took over from his father René in 2002 and has maintained the old-fashioned ways while converting the estate to organic farming. A traditonal Cornas that is showing well now and will continue to soften nicely over the next ten years.

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  • $64.99

Barou 2011 Saint-Joseph

From 2 hectares of 15 to 40 year-old vines, mostly in Limony on decomposed granite. The Barou Saint-Joseph is lovely again in 2011 a fairly forward style much appreciated for drinking over the next five to ten years. Ripe blackberry and cherry-liqueur aromas with hints of smoky fat; the palate is soft and round with lush fruits that linger, with adequate, if not strong acidity. This is a traditional mixed-use farm, with cherries and apricots on the plateau, all of which are tended organically since 1975. There is fine work in the vineyards here with a special type of light plowing in order to preserve the life of the soil. The wines have an added dimension of fruit and mineral acids, giving them a bit of lift and freshness. The Barous are nice people quietly doing great work, making delicious wines at affordable prices.

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  • $18.99

Barou 2011 Vin de Pays Syrah Cuvèe des Vernes

From 40 year-old vines on plateau and slopes in Charnas. De-stemmed, aged in 4 and 5 year-old barrels. The 2011 is soft and supple and more forward than usual. The aromas are really lovely, black and blueberry fruit with floral and earthy notes. The palate is lush with round red fruits, but is balanced and light on its feet. Beautiful palate coating fruit on the finish, a simply delightful everyday red that's a sensational value – serve cool and enjoy! (The estate is certified organic since 1975!)

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  • $12.99

Texier 2011 Cotes du Rhone Brezeme

Eric Texier has once again produced an elegant and delicious Syrah from his vines in Brézème — lovely black and blueberry aromas with  hints of violet, olive and musk with a soft and supple palate. A bit rounder than the bright 2010 but perhaps more delicious and enjoyable young, with lovely fruit clinging on the soft but long finish...yum!

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  • $23.99

Texier 2011 Côtes du Rhône

80% Grenache, 20% white grapes, from St. Julien en St. Alban, near Brézème. A beautiful Cotes-du-Rhône for everyday enjoyment, served cool. Lovely cherry, blackberry and spice aromas, very supple and cool on the palate with refreshing acidity. Perfect with grilled foods, especially chicken and pork — really a versatile and delicious wine that's too easy to drink....

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  • $15.99

PUR 2011 Vin de France Marne Bleu Syrah

PUR (Producteurs Unique Rebelle) is Cyril Alonzo and Florian Looze, who work with organic vignerons to produce natural wines without additives or "make-up." The 2011 Marnes Bleues is from 40 year-old Syrah vines in St Julien St Alban (home of Eric Texier's Vieille Serine). This lovely wine has deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of pepper, mint and citrus. Nice grip on the palate with black fruits, stone and earthy acidity. This is a unique and well-structured Syrah, in the style of a good Saint-Joseph, which is delicious now and should benefit from decanting or a few years in the bottle. (17 mg/liter SO2)

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  • $22.99

Rousset 2009 Crozes-Hermitage Les Picaudieres

(From a steep terraced vineyard in Gervans, granite with some clay/limestone, vines averaging 60 years-old, certainly one of the best sites in the appellation. Aged 16 months, 30% foudre, 70% burgundy barrels, new to 7 year-old) Fabulous aromas of black fruits with hints of olive, smoke and garrigue. The palate is dense, not heavy, with a core of mineral acidity that lifts the fruit. Great balance for a 2009 and obviously built to age. Peak drinking perhaps at 5 to 15 years. Highly recommended.

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  • $26.99

Ferme Saint-Martin 2011 Ventoux Les Estaillades

At about 900 ft elevation in the Ventoux, the Juliens have Grenache and Counoise in a parcel sheltered from the mistral that yields this delicious, supple wine that's a fabulous pairing with any grilled meat or stews this winter. Pretty blackberry aromas with a bit of spice and licorice, the palate is supple with smooth tannins and abundant fruit. Nice long finish and just plain delicious, great value!!

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  • $13.99

Ferme Saint-Martin 2010 Beaumes-de-Venise Cuvée Saint-Martin

90% Grenache, 10% Syrah from 50 to 100 year-old vines at high altitude in Suzette. Guy Julien at Domaine de la Ferme Saint-Martin was one of the first vignerons to turn away from the chemical farming and manipulations in the Southern Rhône back in the 1970s. Organic farming, wild yeast fermentations and minimal sulfur have been the rule here for the past 40 years and it shows in the quality of the wines. This is a great vintage for the Cuvée Saint-Martin — Lovely red fruit, black plum and garrigue aromas, blackberry with spice and hints of cocoa and bitter chocolate on the palate, firm tannins with strong acidity. Fabulous length with black fruits coating the palate. Really a serious Rhône red that will accompany grilled foods and roasts. Decant if possible or hold 5 years — this will be really superb in 2017 and drink until 2025.

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  • $17.99

Oratoire St. Martin 2010 Cairanne Reserve des Seigneurs

A great Cairanne from Frederick and Francois Alary, showing the attributes of the 2010 vintage in the southern Rhône. Deep dark aromas of red/black fruits with provencal herbs, violet and brown spice. The palate is dense and beautifully textured with good balancing acidity. This will warm you up this winter with any hearty cuisine, or cellar for 5 to 8 years...

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  • $19.99

Richaud 2010 Cairanne

The talented Marcel Richaud makes some of the most elegant wines in the Southern Rhône, His 2010 Cairanne is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise and Carignan, about half and half carbonic maceration and traditional fermentation. Deep black fruit aromas with prune and animal notes, brilliant fruit on the palate that's fresh and long. Great balance and drinkability despite the density and ripeness. This is terrific now and will continue well over the next eight to ten years.

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  • $26.99

Mas Casalas 2011 Cotes du Rhône Coup de Pied a la Lune

The young Jerome Hue is making beautiful Rhône wines on his tiny estate in the Massif d'Uchaux, near Mondragon. The soils here are sandstone with some limestone and clay, similar to some terroir in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the vineyard has old vines of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault on a north facing slope. Farming at Mas de Casalas is strictly organic and the winemaking is natural with minimal SO2. Le Coup de Pied a la Lune is made from 50% Grenache, 40% Carignan and 10% Cinsault, vinified together from low yields of about 20 hl/ha. The aromas are complex and pretty — earthy red fruit liqueur, with spicy notes of fennel and licorice. The palate is medium-bodied, with red and black fruits with stony acidity and has very nice freshness despite the intensity on the palate and the 14% of alcohol. This is a really delicious, earthy and food-friendly wine — it's quite old-fashioned due to the lack of Syrah and Mourvedre which have fattened-up modern wines of the southern Rhône. Nice label too! (Bottled with minimal sulfur, some CO2 left as anti-oxidant)

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  • $15.99

Mas Casalas 2009 Cotes du Rhône Ma Reveuse

From very old north-facing vines of Grenache and Carignan at this tiny organic estate near Mondragon. Very elegant black fruit aromas, really showing the old-vine Carignan. Blackberry with hints of mint and pepper on the palate, which has bright acidity framing the pure fruit. Great purity and balance for a 2009. Aged in 4 and 5 year-old barrique, this is showing some tannin still and will benefit from decanting or a few years in the cellar. Lovely wine.

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  • $25.99

Montirius 2010 Vacqueyras Le Clos

Bright garrigue spice, sweet leather, and dark coffee warmth plunge headlong into mouth-filling black berry sap, iron-clad earth, and the salty musk of seared lamb sausage. A swath of Syrah smoke, ripe cherry liqueur, and vibrant acid tang complete the package. This is a big and wonderful wine that can benefit from a number of years in the cellar, but also an expressive and satisfying bottle right now for lovers of gutsy southern Syrah and soulful wintry meals. Classic French meat stew, salty sheep's milk cheeses and a dark chocolate dessert complete the menu. (Lentil and mushroom tajine and roasted fennel salad with orange segments would be an exhilarating vegetarian pairing.)  Montirius achieved biodynamic certification in 1996, the first in the Gigondas and Vacqueyras appellations. "Le Clos" comes from 8.5 hectares planted in 1989 on the Plateau des Garrigues with Helvetian clay and blue marl subsoil. Equal parts Grenache and Syrah, de-stemmed and fermented with native yeasts before 2-year élevage in cement vat. -AR

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  • $21.99

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