UNITED STATES (Washington Post) - Here are terrific wines from Michel Gassier in Costières de Nîmes in southern France, plus a classic style Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a good value premier cru Burgundy.
Vignobles Michel Gassier Nostre Pais 2014
Costières de Nîmes, France
Whether the white or the red, these wines offer tremendous value. The white is a blend of Grenache blanc, roussanne, Viognier, clairette and bourbelanc. It combines the honeyed, lanolin character of a Rhone Valley white with the freshness of a cooler climate wine - the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. The red combines Grenache, carignan, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault into a beguiling elixir of earth, stones and fruit, seasoned with an herbal note of sea air. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 per cent for the white, 14.5 per cent for the red.
Vignobles Michel Gassier, Cercius 2014
The red Cercius, a Cotes-du-Rhone, is a blend of Grenache and syrah that soothes the palate and soul with flavors of tobacco leaf, cherry and fruit compote. At 15 per cent alcohol, it's a bit heady, but the wine manages to remain balanced without being "hot." The white Cercius 2015 blends Grenache blanc, roussanne and sauvignon blanc, which give the wine a zippy acidity that adds beguiling freshness. The white is labeled as a Vin de France, because the sauvignon blanc is a foreigner to the Rhone Valley. ABV: 15 per cent for the red, 13.5 per cent for the white.
Domaine Berthet-Rayne 2013
This is a classic Chateauneuf, with earthy flavours of blackberries, prunes and that appealing southern Rhone herbal character known as garrigue. Organic viticulture helps keep the alcohol in balance. ABV: 14 per cent.
Domaine Besson Givry Premier Cru Le Petit Prétan 2014
A premier cru Burgundy is hard to find at this price. This wine shows dark berry fruit - think blackberries, currants and the darkest cherries you've ever tasted, then add attitude. Fans of Russian River pinot noir from Sonoma County should enjoy this charmer. ABV: 13 per cent.
Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favourite wine store to order through a distributor.