This is a very nice bottle of wine, and it has improved with time in the cellar. When the first bottle was opened in 2008 the nose was shy, refusing to give up its secrets without several hours of decanting. Now, after two additional years of rest, it sings. Leather and a touch, a light touch, of barnyard cradle layers of different cherries all sprinkled with white pepper and a spray of foam from an Atlantic wave. Hide this wine in a blind tasting of Chateauneufs and nobody will question its place in the lineup. Drink with steak au poivre.
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the 13th annual Rhône Rangers Grand Tasting in San Francisco, featuring over 500 wines from more than 100 wineries. Rhône Rangers has grown from the original 13 producers to include 200 wineries from California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Michigan, and Virginia. In order to join, a winery must produce at least one Rhône-style wine, comprising a minimum of 75% of one or more of the 22 Rhône grape varieties approved in the Cotes-du-Rhône. Probably the best known of these are syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and the white threesome of viognier, roussanne, and marsanne.
Lesec’s blend of Syrah and old vine Grenache (80%) is about as good as it gets for under $15. This beautiful wine is aged in stainless steel for great drinkability. It has a bit of an herbal and spice characteristic with a sense of terroir. Robert Parker gave the 2005 an 89. For a great wine that pairs well with food, you won’t do much better than Lesec’s Bouquet.
In 1989, the Swiss Amez-Droz family got an opportunity to buy this 90-hectare estate located just west of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which offered them several hectares of old vines of mainly grenache and syrah, with smaller amounts of mourvèdre, cinsault, counoise and carignan. This is exactly what goes in this tight, fruity, concentrated cuvée, with a backbone that old vines are especially good at bringing into a wine. At 13.5% alcohol, without any jammy, hot flavors, this unoaked wine goes beautifully with grilled meats, in particular lamb. It could also benefit from a few years' cellaring, to allow it to express itself more openly. You can read more tasting notes by Rémy on The Wine Case.
There was a time when I ran off to France for a couple of weeks and drowned my sorrows in bottles exactly like this: a Rhone varietal made up of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. This is a perfect drinking wine -- the blend makes it great with any kind of food (or no food at all). I swoon over the red berry flavors with just a hint of minerality. C’est parfait.