France scores a smooth hat trick in the WineZag “Top Three Wines” December round up. This holiday month provided ample opportunity to drink a lot of great, and not so great, wine with boastful price tags and venerable credentials. These WineZag “top three” wines are especially worthy, all offering pinnacle palate moments that stand out in an elite and competitive lineup. The Southern Rhone, Languedoc, and Beaujolais weigh in with beauties between $18 and $40, each one compelling and worth seeking out. Every one of them is a standing value either on a total price to quality ratio measure or within its own category.
( $20 ****1/2) 2007 Puech Noble Coteaux du Languedoc Vassal: I drank this wine on Christmas Eve. It is a Rene Rostaing wine, but this time from the Languedoc and not Cote Rotie. The cuvee of primarily Syrah sells for a fraction of his Northern Rhone wines but with a purity of fruit and noble quality (hmmm, something in that name) that beckons north without entirely leaving behind some garrigue, earth, and country-like qualities inherent in its Southwestern roots. This wine simply overwhelmed me, is worth twice the price, and moved me to acquire another full case to lay down for drinking over the next ten years. It was my favorite discovery of the month, a top wine of the year, and I can not recommend it strongly enough.
($18****1/2) 2009 Pascal Granger Julienas: No surprise that the 2009 Beaujolais vintage offers up one of the top wines of the month. Out of a large field of wines tasted blind, this Julienas rose to the top. Flowers, stone, and salt combine behind acidic verve that is just thrilling to drink. There is a focused fruit core and a purity of flavor to this wine that makes you sit up in your seat. A top wine from a top vintage.
($39 ***1/2) 2007 Bosquets des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape: I revisited Bones steakhouse in Atlanta after (truly) a 25+ year hiatus. The restaurant appears to have gone through a physical expansion, and the energy on this evening was fever pitch in all corners of this venerable southern beef temple. The wine list is now conveniently presented via networked iPads allowing you to build “top personal selection lists” from real time inventory. The list is powerful, and I could eat there for a month straight and not drink the same wine twice nor get bored. The evening was marked by full throttled California Cabernets, but I managed to slip in this rich modern styled Chateauneuf du Pape from a top southern Rhone vintage showcasing enough fruit and extraction that I suspected would be appreciated by my Cabernet leaning dinner companions. The ’07 Bosquet des Papes did not disappoint, showing off tannins that border on the silky side, raspberry and blackberry fruit, peppery spice, tobacco and herbal aromatics, and a long gripping finish. A compelling CDP value that should last a long time but can be completely reveled in today as well. It is a strong buy for its age worthiness and current day complexity.