I get sooo excited when I know that wines are starting to hit the market that are coming from what could only be called an "Outstanding Vintage."
That has led me to this weeks "Wine of the Week."
Chateau St. Cosme 2015 Gigondas
For a while now, all I have been hearing is how spectacular (I'm going to be using a lot of superlatives) the 2015 Vintage is in the Rhone Valley in France. Both North and South. Conditions that the winemakers all go gaga over (okay, the French probably don't use the term gaga). But reading reviews and interviews with them, you could only sense the excitement. Being one who loves Rhone wines with their predominant use of Syrah and Grenache, I couldn't wait to see when and what would become available. The biggest issue with great vintages and wines that reflect that same quality is "availability." Having been a wine buyer, I can't tell you how many times I would want to try and obtain a wine for the wine shop only to be told that it was so highly allocated that little would make it to retail. Bummer!
So I really was trying to get ahead of the throngs of people and establishments trying to get ahold of the wines. What makes things even more difficult is when the wines receive outstanding scores from the wine reviewers, and I do use those extensively. In the case of the Rhone Valley, the vintage reviews where across-the-board "Outstanding." Even before the individual reviews came out. When that happened, I knew at once my job had just gotten demonstrably more complex.
I started looking in every wine shop I went into to see if they had any wines from the 2015 Rhone Valley. In their defense, some did but the wines tended to be of simpler quality and not of the pedigree I was looking for. For those of you that may know specific winery names, the likes of Guigal is one of the most foremost, especially what they call their LaLa wines. A trio of the best representation (in my opinion) of what they offer. Not surprisingly, also their most expensive.
So I'm looking for the inbetweeners. Those wines that will probably sell for over $30 but under $100. Oh, and let's not forget, that are available. So off I go to see what I might find. The good news is that I do find a selection of 2015's. Most, however, are from the Cotes du Rhone area (slightly lower in status but more affordable). A couple from Chateanuef du Pape (now we're talking). Very few from the Northern Rhone (Cote Rotie, St Joesph to name a couple), these last two commanding a much higher price in general.
On one of my searches, I happen to come across a shop that happens to have this weeks "Wine of the Week." St Cosme 2015 Gigondas. Gigondas is from the Southern Rhone and maybe a tick below the Chateanuef region. A quick check of reviews and I'm hooked. 92's from a couple reviewers and a whopping 95 Points from Wine Spectator. All this for around $35! A couple bottles later, and I'm homebound with the wine.
I know the wine is young, but I had to try it. So I decide to opt for some Baby Back Ribs with a more savory rub and sauce to extenuate what I was expecting from the wine. What a wonderful combination.
The wine possessed this savory dried dark fruit characteristic both on the nose and at first sip. While I generally prefer Rhone wines made from more Syrah than Grenache, this was more of the later. Not to worry. Dark fruit with hints of spiciness all wound together by nice but subtle tannins. Opening the wine sometime before dinner allowed for the wine to develop. Over a two to three hour time period, it did blossom, even more, allowing the fruit to become more pronounced. Glad I bought a few of these so I can lay them down for a while.
Now that I know how good these wines can be, I will continue my search for others. The REALLY phenomenal (there's another superlative) issue is that if you miss the 2015's, no problem, reach out for the 2016's. They are expected to be as good. If you're really wanting to experience some of the better wines of either vintage, expect to pay a little more. While I did find some others for less (and when you have this great a vintage, you still get your money's worth), the better and best examples are much more pricey.
Stay tuned for more reviews of excellent examples of Rhone wines, at least, so long as I can find them....