Languedoc


When we speak of the French grenache, that heat-loving grape of the Mediterranean basin, we tend to append, rather snobbishly, “or, as they call it in Spain, garnacha.” The truth, however, is that grenache/garnacha almost assuredly is native to the eastern regions of Spain, in Aragon and Cataluña, and that even in Medieval times was planted in Roussillon, which until 1659 was part of Spain. How naturally, then, the grape hopped, skipped and jumped its way east to the Rhône Valley, where eventually it became a mainstay of the Côtes du Rhône and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. When writers of a different ear tabulated the so-called “noble grapes,” the red models were cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir. No mention of grenache, which thrives in the sun and southern wind, which ripened too easily and soared rather shamelessly into the upper alcohol levels. Still, I think the world’s winemakers came to realize that grown with care and managed in the winery in the way that one might relate to a reckless teenager, grenache/garnacha can be made into wines that while never the epitome of elegance and finesse can balance power and feral impulses with delicious fruit and essential acid structure, usually achieved by blending with other red grapes such as syrah, mourvèdre and carignan. The grape continues to be one of the most widely planted in the world, though acreage in Spain has declined due to replantings of tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon.

Today I look at 12 examples of wines made from or wines that include some portion of the grenache grape, seven from France, five from Spain. Two of the French examples are vins du naturel, the fortified wine made in the southwest. Part of the care that goes into making wines from grenache grapes involves thoughtful application of oak aging, and I think that several of the Spanish entries here do not pass the test, being heavy with wood. Still, some of these wines are splendid or at least enjoyable, with the added benefit of reasonable prices.

These wines were samples for review. Image of grenache grapes from decanter.com.
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France
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This organic estate in now operated by the eighth generation of the Coulon family. Rasteau was formerly a Côtes du Rhône designation, but was granted its own AOC beginning with the 2009 vintage. Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau 2015 was fermented with wild yeasts and aged 12 months in oak vats and foudres: no small barrels, no new oak. The color is intense dark ruby; a knock-out bouquet of blackberry jam, new leather, blueberries and currants rides on a tide of briers and brambles, violets and lavender, wood smoke and bacon fat. These elements segue seamlessly into the mouth, where the wine slides on a texture of slightly gritty tannins, as if lightly sandpapered, and keen acidity that cuts a swath; you feel a touch of heat from the alcohol in the finish, but mainly this is a very nicely balanced effort that displays both personality and character. 15 percent alcohol. Now through 2022 or ’24. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Wilson Daniels Wholesale, New York.
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One hundred percent varietal and aged eight months in concrete tanks, Domaine de Chateaumar Cuvée Bastien 2016, Côtes-du Rhône, feels like quintessential grenache, though in a minor key. The color is intense dark ruby-magenta, a presage to the depth and density of its black and red cherry and plums scents and flavors permeated by iodine, new leather and lots of graphite; a few minutes in the glass bring out notes of lavender, licorice and black pepper, while a touch of raspberry broadens the flavors. All elements are connected on the palate by vibrant acidity, the whole effect being clean, fresh and appealing. 14.5 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $16, a Real Bargain.
Imported by Lefgroup LLC, Asheville, N.C.
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Grenache is a minority in this blend of 60 percent syrah, 25 percent grenache and 15 percent carignan, but it contributes a definite fillip of spicy blueberry scents and flavors and a hint of wild thyme. The Chateau des Crés Ricards Stécia 2015, Terrasses du Larzac, Languedoc, aged 12 months in vats. The color is deep ruby-purple, sort of dark plum-colored, and the first impression on nose and palate is plums and more plums, spiced, macerated and a bit roasted; these expand to notes of black currants and the aforesaid blueberries, mint and iodine, and as the moments pass, hints of lavender, black licorice and white pepper creep in. Energized by incisive acidity, this delicious and powerful wine is dense and chewy, replete with dusty graphite and tannins and a seething background of underbrush and oak. 14.5 percent alcohol. Quite a performance. Drink now through 2023 to ’25 with braised and grilled red meats. Excellent. About $18 to $20.
Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla.
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A blend of 70 percent syrah and 30 percent grenache, the Chateau des Crés Ricards Oenothera 2015, Terrasses du Larzac, Languedoc, aged a year in new French oak barrels. The color is opaque black ruby-magenta; aromas that weave notes of licorice and lavender, bittersweet chocolate, loam and leather gradually unfurl strains of black currants and plums with hints of damp ashes and wet dog, in other words, pretty damned classic syrah, with grenache lending touches of raspberry and blueberry and an elevating, slightly feral element. The wine is dense and chewy on the palate, though bright acidity keeps it animated and flowing, while bastions of dusty tannins and burnished oak play second chair to the lead instrument of gorgeous, spicy, floral black fruit flavors. 14.5 percent alcohol. A wine of total balance and integration, for drinking through 2023 to ’27, with braised rabbit, veal shanks, goat or pig roasted for hours over a wood fire. Excellent. About $25, representing Terrific Value.
Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. The blend mentioned above is indicated thus on the bottle’s back label; according to the importer’s website, the percentage is 84 syrah, 16 grenache.
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The Paul Jaboulet Aîné Le Paradou 2015, Beaumes-des-Venise, is a blend of 75 percent grenache and 25 percent syrah that aged 12 months in 15,000-liter tronconiques, upright, cone-shaped neutral barrels of 3,962.6-gallon capacity. That’s a lot of wine. Beaumes-des-Venise, in the Vaucluse region of the Southern Rhone Valley — Côtes du Rhône territory — was once known primarily for its vin doux naturel dessert wines made from the muscat grape, but the red wines achieved such quality that they were granted their own Beaumes-des-Venise AOC in 2005. The color is very dark ruby-black; it’s one of those wines that manages to be clean and fresh, on the one hand, and intense and concentrated on the other hand. Ripe dark plums and currants are permeated by notes of black pepper and lavender, licorice and graphite, with undertones of briers, brambles and woodsy spices. Dusty and slightly velvety tannins support a delicious black fruit framework — adding a hint of blueberry — all driven by potent acidity that keeps the whole enterprise lively and engaging. 14 percent alcohol. A wine that displays terrific tone and presence. Now through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $16, so go out and Buy It by the Case.
Skurnik Wines, New York.
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And two fortified dessert wines:
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Domaine La Tour Vieille Reserva Banyuls, nv., is a blend of 35 percent grenache, 35 percent grenache gris (a pink-skinned mutation of grenache) and 30 percent carignan. The aging process is fascinating. After fermentation and the introduction of neutral spirits to raise the alcohol content, the wine is divided into three portions, for aging in large oak foudres and smaller oak barrels for varying amounts of time and large glass jars that sit out in the sun for one year. The wine will be a blend of all three parts, with wines ranging from one year old to 13 years old. The color is medium garnet shading to transparent brick-red; seamlessly woven aromas of cigar smoke and toffee, prunes and fruitcake, spiced and macerated currants and plums offers hints of cloves and vanilla and a backnote of lightly buttered cinnamon toast. These elements segue smoothly to the palate, where the wine is sweet and viscous, enlivened by vibrant acidity yet a bit autumnal in effect; dryness builds through the sleek finish. 16 percent alcohol. Banyuls lies on the French “Catalonian Coast,” where the Mediterranean shoreline aims southward toward Spain. I expect that this wine will drink beautifully for another 10 years. Excellent. About $25-$30.
Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants, Berkeley, Calif.
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It’s not often in my game that one gets to taste a 47-year-old wine as a sample, but that was the case with the Chateau Las Collas Rivesaltes 1970, a vin du naturel from that part of Languedoc-Roussillon known as La Vallée d’Agly. Rivesaltes in straight north of Banyuls, the AOC of the wine reviewed just above, and more inland. The Catalan word ribesaltes means “high shores.” The wine is a blend of grenache gris, blanc and rose, from vines 100 years old and more, vinified in cement vats. The color is a pale, tawny, transparent copper hue; nothing attenuated here: scents of fruitcake and toasted almonds, coconut and toffee, walnuts and macerated raisins are fresh and vigorous, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and exotic spices extending to the palate. Though sweet on the entry and rich and viscous on the tongue, the wine is remarkably clean and fresh, lively with sinuous acidity and dry from mid-palate back through the satiny finish. 18.5 percent alcohol. I wouldn’t mind trying it again in 2028. Excellent. About $90, but with a question mark; some prices on the Internet seem absurdly cheap and seem to apply to the same wine but with a different label.
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locator Inc., Tumwater, Wash.
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Spain
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The color of the Corona de Aragon Garnacha 2016, Carineña, is dark ruby-purple, and its expression is pure, ripe raspberry and black cherry. Boy, there’s a lot of traction on the palate, with gripping tannins balanced by lip-smacking acidity and juicy black fruit flavors; a few minutes in the glass bring in notes of lavender and licorice, iodine and bittersweet chocolate. 13.5 percent alcohol. Lots of personality and verve for the price. Very Good+. About $16, and a red wine to buy by the case for drinking with the burgers, steaks and pork chops you’ll be grilling this year.
Imported by Sidewalk Wine Merchants, Tampa, Fla.
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Fashioned from vines 100 years old and more and aged four months in French oak, Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2015, Campo de Borja, displays a dark ruby-magenta hue that lightens to a transparent rim; intense and concentrated elements of black currants and raspberries gradually open to notes of wood-smoke and tobacco, black pepper, licorice and lavender. This is a resolutely structured wine, dark and spicy, loamy and racy, and buttressed by dusty, resiny tannins that, along with briary oak, fairly well mute the black fruit flavors through the finish. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2022 to ’25, with your heartiest meals. Very Good. About $15.
Scoperto Importing Co., Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
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I’ll say right here that Las Moradas de San Martin Initio 2010, Aragon, was one of my favorite wines so far this year. One hundred percent varietal and aged 14 months in a combination of French oak barriques and foudres, the wine offers a dark ruby-garnet hue that shades to a transparent rim; aromas of ripe, spicy raspberries and blueberries are permeated by notes of cloves and allspice, sandalwood and dusty graphite, loam and new leather; it’s sleek and lithe on the palate, the black and blue fruit flavors driven by keen acidity and bolstered by dry and moderately velvety tannins; it’s a dense and highly structured wine, but perfectly balanced (even with the alcohol content) and remarkably fresh and engaging. 15 percent alcohol. Now through 2020 or ’22. Excellent. About $17, a Tremendous Bargain.
Imported by Monsieur Touton, New York.
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Made all in stainless steel, the Paniza Garnacha 2016, Carineña, offers a lovely medium ruby-garnet color and pert aromas of spicy and slightly herbal raspberries and black currants; medium-power dusty, velvety tannins provide ballast for flavors that lean toward peppery blueberry and raspberry, as well as lithe acidity. 13.5 percent alcohol. An enjoyable quaff, simple and direct. Very Good+. About $10, representing Good Value.
Imported by Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, New York.
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Bodegas San Valero Particular Old Vine Garnacha 2013, Carineña, wears its granitic tannins, dusty oak and graphite minerality on its ample sleeves, but manages to exert a modicum of juicy raspberry and blueberry fruit that as the moments pass transitions to raspy black cherry. With its dark ruby-magenta hue and its solid yet slightly velvety structure, this is a wine that’s more imposing for size and depth than distinguished by detail. 14 percent alcohol. Very Good. About $18.
Importer N/A.
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It’s always a good time to think about a house wine for your house, a red, for example, that you can serve with all
sorts of grilled and roasted meat dishes — especially with leg of lamb studded with garlic and rosemary or braised short ribs — or with pastas and pizzas or even as a default position for sipping out on the patio or back porch or on a balcony that looks out over your urban landscape. A light-hearted but well-structured red that you can give a little chill to increase its appeal. Such a one is the Côté Mas Rouge Intense 2016, from France’s Coteaux du Languedoc appellation, a blend of 45 percent grenache grapes, 25 percent carignan, 15 percent cinsault, 5 percent syrah and an outlier of 10 percent merlot. The wine sees no oak and is all the fresher and livelier for it. The color is very dark ruby shading to a transparent magenta rim; aromas of black currants, cherries and plums open to notes of licorice and lavender and a touch of loam. It’s dry but ripe and juicy on the palate, and its spicy black fruit flavors are permeated by a strain of dusty graphite and underbrush, all propelled by bright acidity. 13.5 percent alcohol. No need to over-sell this wine; it’s just pleasant, enjoyable and versatile. so don’t worry your pretty little head, go out and buy a case. Very Good+. About — you ready? — $13 for a liter bottle, representing Great Value.

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. A sample for review.


Looking for a terrific and inexpensive sparkling wine with which to toast your sweetheart, baby or doppelganger of whatever gender, ethnicity, spiritual orientation or galactic origin for Valentine’s? Why of course you are! Here’s my advice: Find and enjoy a bottle of the Domaine Paul Mas M Côté Mas Blanc de Blancs Brut, from France’s Côteaux du Languedoc appellation. Non-vintage-dated, 100 percent chardonnay and made in the traditional Champagne method, this delightful quaffer offers a hue of palest blond and an attractively clean and fresh character enlivened by a fount by energetic bubbles; hints of pear and spiced peach open to notes of lime peel and almond skin. The whole sleek package is taut and crisp, light and delicate, with an elegant tide of limestone minerality that finishes with fragile seashell salinity. 12 percent alcohol. Very Good+. Impressive for its detail and dimension, and no one will know that it only cost $16.

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. A sample for review.

The Côté Mas Brut Rosé, Crémant de Limoux, barely qualifies as a rosé wine by most measures, being a blend of 70 percent chardonnay, 20 percent chenin blanc and 10 percent pinot noir. In other words, 90 percent of this charming sparkling wine is white, with only a few dollops of a red grape to lend the requisite rosé color, in this case a beguiling light copper-salmon hue animated by a stream of tiny, glinting bubbles. The nose is pure raspberry, peach and lime peel; a few moments in the glass bring out notes of heather and seashell. This is crisp, dry and tart on the palate, where lip-smacking acidity keeps it lively and engaging and the minerality of damp limestone and flint delivers reasonable structure for nice heft and balance, all these elements supporting subtle flavors of roasted lemon and strawberry. 12 percent alcohol. A lovely aperitif. You could sell about a million glasses in bars and restaurants. Very Good+. About $16 and often found discounted to $13 or $14.

Limoux has an interesting history, because the first sparkling wines were apparently developed there as early as 1531, at the Abbey St.-Hilaire, and pre-dating sparkling Champagne by 150 years. These wines, traditionally made from the mauzac grape, underwent a natural process of second fermentation in the bottle in the Spring after the harvest, as the temperature warmed. The fairly rustic Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wines were supplemented in 1990 by the creation of Crémant de Limoux, designed to be more modern and to exploit the increasing acreage in the region devoted to chardonnay and chenin blanc grapes. Limoux — pop. 9,781 souls — a commune and subprefecture in the Aude department in the vast Languedoc-Roussillon region, lies a mere 30 kilometers or 19 miles south of the celebrated castle-city of Carcassonne, nestled in the French foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. A sample for review.

I don’t typically recommend rosé wines from two vintages ago. I mean the point of rosé is its freshness and immediate appeal, n’est-ce pas? Some rosé wines, however, are made of slightly sterner stuff than the usual ethereal, instantly accessible, quaffable models that so delight us and can age for a year or two beyond the Summer after harvest. Such is the case with the two rosé wines from the South of France that I mention today. I encountered these examples at a trade tasting at which rosés from 2015 and ’16 were offered, and while most of the ’15s were fading, if not falling apart, this pair drank with splendid panache, zeal and deliciousness. North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Le Caillou Rosé 2015, Côtes du Rhône, is an unusual blend of 85 percent counoise and 15 percent mourvedre grapes, and I CAILLOU_rose_websay “unusual” because counoise, not so easy to grow and late ripening, typically finds itself in a minority position in red wines of the southern Rhone Valley, if it shows up at all. In this very pale pink-coral hued wine, it provides scintillating acidity that runs through the structure like an electric wire, as well as a lovely hint of red plum, behind notes of strawberry and orange rind. The domaine, by the way, was founded in 1956 but the estate, surrounded by the Chateaunuef-du-Pape appellation, has a long history of grape-growing and winemaking; the vineyards are certified organic and maintained by biodynamic methods. Winemaker is Bruno Gaspard. This is a dry, taut, crisp rosé that delivers a dusty, almost powdery texture supported by lithe, chiseled flint-like minerality; the finish brings in hints of heather, sea-salt and just a ghost of melon. Drink through the end of 2017. Excellent. About $25.
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The history at Chateau Mattes-Sabran goes back a thousand years in Languedoc-Roussillon. The estate was once the seat MATTES_narbonne_rose-228x300of the Dukes of Narbonne and was well-known in the 12th and 13th centuries as a center for troubadours and the elevation of courtly love. The city itself, as distinct from the commune, dates back to Roman times and was once an important seaport. Winemaking on the estate commenced in 1733. Though made from 100 percent syrah grapes, the Mattes-Sabran Rosé 2015, Pays d’Oc — winemaker was Jean-Luc Brouillat — is unusually delicate and elegant, though possessing tensile strength that feels almost steely; the color is extremely pale watermelon-coral pink, and aromas of slightly spiced and macerated red currants and raspberries testify to its origin in the syrah grape. An aura of pink grapefruit and blood orange is allied to the wine’s crisp citric acidity, while a few moments in the glass bring out notes of dusty limestone, rose petals and dried thyme. Bring on the rabbit and duck terrine, the cucumber sandwiches, the shrimp salad! Now through the end of 2017. Excellent. About $19.
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Limoux is a wine region in Languedoc, lying about 40 miles south of the walled city of Carcassonne, in the foothills of the French Pyrénées. It encompasses four AOCs, three for sparkling wine and one, more recently defined, for red wine made predominantly from merlot. The major white grape of the area is the indigenous mauzac, followed by chenin blanc and chardonnay. Apparently, Limoux bertrandis the site of the first sparkling wines fashioned by second fermentation in the bottle, precisely dated, by historians, to 1531 and therefore preceding its discovery in Champagne. Whatever the case, Limoux is a source for delightful sparkling wines generally available at reasonable prices. Such a one is the Gérard Bertrand “Cuvée Thomas Jefferson” 2013, Crémant de Limoux, a blend of 70 percent chardonnay, 15 percent chenin blanc, 10 percent mauzac and 5 percent pinot noir. Why “Cuvée Thomas Jefferson”? Because when that most Francophile of American presidents died, the only sparkling wines found in his cellar were from — guess! — Limoux. The color is pale straw-gold, somewhat like Rapunzel’s hair, I should guess. A pretty and persistent surge of tiny bubbles animates the proceedings, while aromas of roasted lemon, lemon balm and baked pear entice the nose; a few moments is the glass unfold notes of jasmine and almond skin and touches of hay and heather. These elements segue seamlessly onto the palate, where the wine displays a flinty notion of limestone minerality as edgy yet fragile as a seashell, an example of vivid tensile power married to thoughtful delicacy. O.K., let’s not overplay this; what I chiefly mean is that the Gérard Bertrand “Cuvée Thomas Jefferson” 2013, Crémant de Limoux, is a real charmer that offers a lithe and scintillating scale of mineral-and-acid texture and structure. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2018. Excellent. Prices around the country run from about $16 to $21.

Imported by USA Wine West, Sausalito, Calif. A sample for review from the local distributor.

What do you want, friends, charm or structure? You can have both and at a more than decent price bhrouge2015lin Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge 2015, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, from a property in the Languedoc in the eastern foothills of the Pyrenees, owned by Michel Chapoutier since 1999. The wine is a blend of syrah, grenache and carignan grapes that sees no new oak or small barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a vivid transparent magenta; an immediate impact of freshness and liveliness comes from bright and winsome aromas of ripe black cherries, raspberries and mulberries drenched in notes of rose petals and violets against a background of graphite and sun-baked stone. The texture is fairly dense and chewy, buoyed by vibrant acidity and lithe tannins, all focused on delivering tasty black fruit flavors through a dried herb-and-mineral burnished finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Nothing complicated or thought-provoking here, just a delicious and well-structured red wine for drinking through 2018. Very Good+. About $15, representing Excellent Value.

Sera Wine Imports, New York. A sample for review.

Well, actually, in this post I’m going to omit Champagne — of which we have seen superb examples in the past four days — for the sake of two less expensive products, both from France, both brut rosés.
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Maison Jaffelin dates back to 1816 and is one of the few estates that still makes wine in the ancient city of Beaune, the heart and nerve-center of Burgundy. The estate’s facility occupies a 12th Century edifice and cremant_de_bourgogne_brut_rosecellars, where they utilize the traditional vertical press and oval wooden vats. We look today not at the company’s red and white still wines from various villages and vineyards but at a delightful sparkling wine, the Jaffelin Brut Rosé nv, Crémant de Bourgogne, composed of chardonnay grapes, gamay and pinot noir and allowed to rest a minimum of 12 months on the lees in the bottle; yes, Crémant de Bourgogne is made in the methode traditionelle. The entrancing color is a pale salmon-copper hue with a faint gold overlay; the essential bubbles are finely-beaded, delicate yet exuberant. You get a lot of elegance and even a bit of hauteur from this acid-steel-and-flint-propelled sparkler, though it allows for a whisper of orange rind, a wisp of sour cherry and a snippet of melon; deep inside, it offers a bare hint of candied quince and kumquat, a vivid touch in this super clean, crisp and mineral-inflected effort. 12.5 percent alcohol. (A local purchase.) Very Good+. The average price nationally is about $18.

A Steven Bernardi Selection for Martinicus Wine, Beverly Hills, Fla.
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The date 1531 that you see at the bottom of the accompanying label does not refer to the vintage — “How fresh and bubbly after 484 years!” — but to the year in which, supposedly, the inhabitants of the town of Limoux discovered that a natural second bubble-inducing fermentation would occur in their white wines during the cool Spring. Limoux is an appellation directly west of Corbières in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, in extreme cote massouthwestern France, hard by the foothills of the Pyrenees. In other words, what came to be known as Blanquette de Limoux was a sparkling wine before the legendary Dom Perignon noticed the same sort of occurrence in Champagne. So, “Hahaha, you snobs in Champagne, we were there first!” is the motto of Limoux. Blanquette is traditionally made from the indigenous mauzac grape, but a far more recent appellation, Crémant de Limoux, is comprised of a total of at least 90 percent chenin blanc and chardonnay, with the addition of pinot noir or the old stand-by mauzac. Let’s, then, look at the Cote Mas Brut nv, Crémant de Limoux, produced by the firm of Jean-Claude Mas. It’s a blend of 70 percent chardonnay, 20 percent chenin blanc and 10 percent pinot noir, which in terms of this sparkler’s character seems just about perfect. Looking for a sparkling wine that’s the epitome of delight? This is it. The color is smoky light salmon-topaz, gracefully animated by a stream of tiny bubbles. Notes of rose petals and orange rind are augmented by hints of peach and spiced pear, with a snap of ginger and touches of pink bubblegum and chenin blanc’s heather and hay nature. The wine is dry yet juicy and appealing, and it captures a tone of damp limestone and flint for structure. 12 percent alcohol. Charming and whimsical. Very Good+. About $16, an Attractive Value.

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. A sample for review.
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The word “interesting,” of course, is a double-edged sword, as when one says that someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend is interesting, meaning “What a dork!” No, I don’t mean that! I mean interesting as “of real interest to My Readers” and white wines to look out for as alternatives to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Not that there’s anything wrong with those grapes — well, chardonnay is too often over-made and fiddled with — and I’m distinctly fond of sauvignon blanc and especially reisling. Many more types of white wine exist, however, and it’s in that less-traveled direction that I send My Readers today. We touch many countries and regions and a variety of grapes, both single and in fascinating and somewhat exotic blends. Look particularly at the wines priced between $11 and $17; real bargains abound there. As usual, I avoid lengthy mentions of technical, historical and geographical information in this Weekend Wine Notes — though I dote on that sort of material — for the sake of quick, incisive reviews deigned to pique your, ahem, interest and whet your palates. Enjoy!

These wines were either samples for review or encountered at wholesaler trade events.
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scaia-garganega
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Bianca 2014, Delle Venezia IGT, Italy. 12% alc. 55% garganega, 45% chardonnay, according to the label; website and printed material say 50% garganega, 30% chardonnay, 20% trebbiano Soave. Medium straw-gold color; ripe, lively, crisp, bristly; brimming with notes of green apple and melon, lemon and peach; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of jasmine and gardenia, lime peel and grapefruit; very dry, zings and sings across the palate with bright acidity and tantalizing limestone elements; heaps of personality. Excellent. About $11, a Raving Amazing Bargain.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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villa-wolf-2012-pinot-grigio-gris-gris-pfalz
Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2012, Pfalz, Germany. 13% alc. 100% pinot gris grapes. Medium burnished gold hue; straw, melon and orange rind; lemongrass and ginger, jasmine and honeysuckle; saline and savory, a touch exotic in its ripe, spicy yellow fruit and yellow flower elements; quite dry, with clean acidity and a sense of fading limestone and flint minerality; quite attractive, but drink up. Very Good +. About $12, representing Real Value.
Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, Oregon.
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Alamos Torrontés 2014, Salta, Argentina. 13% alc. 100% torrontés grapes. Pale straw color; jasmine and gardenia, very lemony, hints of lemongrass and figs, honeydew and greengage; a little musky; saline briskness and crisp acidity; lovely, lively silken texture. Very Good+. About $13.
Alamos USA, Haywood, Calif.
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Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2014, Côtes du Roussillon, France (Michael Chapoutier). 13% alc. Grenache gris, grenache blanc, macabeu (or sometimes maccabeu). Pale straw-gold color; ripe and fleshy, apple peel and peach skin; lemon, lime peel, tangerine and yellow plum; cloves and a wisp of dried thyme; crisp and sassy, very spicy and quite dry but with spare and tasty stone-fruit flavors. Very Good+. About $13.
An R. Shack Selection, HB Wine Merchants, New York.
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pecorino
La Valentina Pecorino 2014, Bianco Colline Piscarese, Italy. NA% alc. 100% pecorino grapes. Pale gold hue; very fresh, clean and appealing; lemon balm, lime peel, almond skin and almond blossom; limestone and oyster shell, savory with a salt marsh-sea breeze edge of vitality; pert and lively, a burgeoning of stone-fruit and meadowy herbs; extremely charming but with a thread of seriousness. Very Good+. About $16.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa Calif.
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Vina Robles “White 4” 2014, Paso Robles, California. 14.9% alc. 54% viognier, 22% vermentino, 15% verdelho, 9% sauvignon blanc. Pale straw color with faint green highlights; delicate, lightly spicy, a slight sense of sunny, leafy figs and briers; all citrus with a flush of stone-fruit; a few minutes in the glass bring in heady notes of lilac and Evening in Paris; very appealing, with a beautiful texture and structure that fill the mouth with almost powdery talc-like elements cut by bright acidity. Drink now through 2017. Excellent. About $16.
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alleme
Bodega de Txakoli Tadai Berri Alleme Txakolina 2014, Getariako Txakolina. NA% alc. 100% hondarribi zuri grapes. The wine is pronounced chakoli; txakolina means “the txakoli.” The hondarribi zuri grape is primarily grown, where it is cultivated at all, in Spain’s Basque country. Very pale straw color; just faintly effervescent, as a sort of quiet, persistent tickle; white flowers and yellow fruit, let’s say, gardenia, peach and yellow plums, all quite gently expressed, with hints of almond blossom and lychee; lively, crisp, clean, caressing. Drink up as a very pleasant and unusual aperitif; these wines are not meant to last. Very Good+. About $17.
Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
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ponzi pb
Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13.4% alc. 1,000 cases. 100% pinot blanc grapes. Very pale straw-gold hue; roasted lemons and spiced pears, notes of quince, nectarine and ginger; subtly floral, like some tiny white slightly astringent flower; mountainy and meadowy; incisive acidity with elements of steel and limestone and a haze of smoke and talc; quite dry but immensely appealing and satisfying. Excellent. About $20, representing Great Value.
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amity-vineyards-pinot-blanc-2013-bottle
Amity Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2013, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13% alc. 181 cases. 100% pinot blanc. Medium straw-gold hue; lemon balm, lime peel, slightly caramelized grapefruit; intriguing notes of cedar and hay; a fresh, breezy and bracing wine, lovely purity and intensity; hints of quince, peach skin and ginger; lithe and supple on the palate with crystalline acidity and vibrant limestone minerality. Now through 2016. Excellent. About $22.
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mccay viognier
McCay Cellars Viognier 2014, Lodi, California. 14.1% alc. 100% viognier grapes. Very pale gold color; peach, roasted lemon and lavender; slightly honeyed, with notes of beeswax, dried thyme and rosemary, with the latter’s hint of resiny quality; very clean, pure and intense, lovely presence and weight; more on the graceful, spare and elegant side of the grape, though a hint of caramelized fennel lends something exotic; a lingering finish that turns a bit austere with limestone and flint minerality. Now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $24.
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Clos le Vigneau 2013, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France. (Alexandre Monmousseau). NA%alc. 100% chenin blanc grapes. Bright straw-gold hue; vouvrayhay, damp stones, jasmine; hazelnuts and almond skin; notes of peach, apricot and yellow plums; lean and lithe, chiseled limestone minerality and chiming acidity yet a soft approachable texture; a hint of sweetness on the entry but very dry from mid-palate back through the spice and mineral freighted finish. Now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $19.
Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
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anaba white
Anaba Wines Turbine White 2013, Sonoma Valley, California. 14% alc. 42% roussanne, 20% grenache blanc, 20% picpoul blanc, 18% marsanne. 354 cases. Shimmering pale gold hue; roasted lemon, dried thyme, beeswax, lanolin, lilac; notes of heather and peach and a hint of some exotic floral and pressed nut oil; bountifully presents a full-bodied, seductive texture packed with spiced and roasted peach and apricot flavors but balanced by riveting acidity and an element of damp-stone minerality. Super appealing, practically glitters in the glass. Excellent. About $28, and Worth a Search.
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Here’s a quite beautiful blended white wine from France’s Coteaux du Languedoc region. Chateau Paul Mas Belluguette 2013 combines 40 percent vermentino grapes — known by that name in Italy but usually called rolle in the South of France — 30 percent roussanne, 20 percent grenache blanc and 10 percent viognier. The wine is barrel-fermented, half of it goes through malolactic fermentation and it all aged for four months in 2/3 French and 1/3 American oak barrels. The color is moderate gold with a pale green shimmer; enticing aromas of honeysuckle and camellia are twined with notes of peaches and roasted lemons, quince and ginger, undercurrents of cloves, pineapple and lightly buttered cinnamon toast. Give the wine a few moments in the glass and it unfurls touches of cantaloupe, lychee and almond skin. Pretty heady stuff, n’est-ce pas? On the palate, the wine is dense and silky but enlivened by bright acidity and an element of scintillating limestone minerality; by such means, it thankfully avoids being merely sumptuous. Ripe citrus and stone-fruit flavors are nicely balanced and offer a sheen of exotic spice, while the finish, with a hint of grapefruit bitterness, adds a necessary quality of elegance and spareness. 14 percent alcohol. We happily drank this with a delicious gratin of endive and potatoes with walnuts and thyme. Consume now through 2016 or ’17. Excellent. About $24.

Esprit du Vin/Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, Florida. A sample for review.

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