2009 Saint Antonin Faugeres Les Jardins  14%

33% Grenace 33% Carignan 33% Syrah

Sweet fruit, baking spices, dried herbs, leather  and tobacco great the nose.  A lighter styled wine yet one with fine acids, nice slightly powdery tannins and good mineral laden fruit. Offering up good solid intensity of rather dark fruit, a touch bitter from the tannins though amply black currant and bitter black cherry tones. The finish is tight and shows the wine’s balanced and firm structure well with good, lightly jammy loganberry fruit persistence outlasting the tannins and just a hint of alcohol on the finale. This is a lovely wine, firm yet fruited and well crafted with fine structural balance that might strike some as a touch austere. 89pts

2009 Beckman Vineyards Cuvee le Bec 14.4%

45% Grenache 34% Syrah 14% Mourvedre 7% Counoise

At once dark and lightly jammy and fresh and bright with almost tropical floral scents. This is really wonderful on the nose with a decidedly balsamic underlay to the fresh fruit, salted plum and floral aromatic character.  Much denser and tougher on entry than one would expect from the nose but it’s got nice freshness from the integrated acid and the tannins are super well integrated. This is really broad in the mouth with some heaviness around the edges but it has decent height as well featuring dark berry fruit with hints of carob, earth  and herb stem. Nice richness on the moderately long finish as well with good mouthgrab from the tannins that add texture to the dark fruit. A bigger, bolder style of Cotes du Rhone. Great value 88pts  

2009 In Fine  Ventoux 14%

70% Grenache 30% Syrah

A bit shy on the nose but with growing floral notes over a base of mineral and bitter root flecked blackish fruits that gains hints of pink peppercorn with further air.  A bit soft on entry but then this snaps to attention, in fact it all but rolls itself up on the palate showing small but dry tannins behind the tight deep dark fruit. This is a bit rustic and a bit of a small wine but the fruit has innate sweetness that you can feel straining to get out. Very fine on the finish which shows redder fruit, decent length, and growing spice notes.  Leave this for a year or so and I think it’ll be wonderful. Today it’s great with a simple grilled steak served rare.87pts

2008 Hecht & Bannier Cotes du Roussillon Villages 15%

Smells tight, dark and powerful with hints of black and meaty fruit. This is tight on the palate but it already shows impeccable balance, a nice seamlessness to the smooth, dense but not heavy mouthfeel. The fruit is there, dark and macerated berry tones struggle to escape but some reach beyond the tight coil of licorice and herb stem that dominate the palate today. The tannins dominate the finish and are a bit drying but the fruit seeps out underneath and is ready to balance those tannins. This needs some time in the bottle, a year or two, to show its all but it seems very well put together. 86pts with room for improvement

2009 Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone 14%

60% Grenache 40% Syrah

This smells really pretty with a wonderful array of floral, herb, stem and fruit notes all joining gracefully together. In the mouth it’s a bit simpler with a nice core of well-balanced fruit that shows edges of minty herb and stemmy with a nice blueberry note on the mid-palate. This feels a touch extracted and the tannins are a bit dry and outsized for the wine, but overall the just lend a touch of rusticity here.  The finish shows some nice length with savory notes building over the fading fruit. 85pts

2007 Shoo Fly Aussie Salute 14.5%

48% Grenache 47% Shiraz 5% Viognier

This is quite aromatic with a base of white peppery spice over which are laid notes of red fruit and dried, lightly smoky ham.  This is almost plush in the mouth, it’s soft and has a richness to the fruit but the flavors are tending towards the simpler end of the spectrum with good, ripe blackberry and spiced red cherry tones. The modest finish carries that spiced red cherry tone. 84pts

2008 Le Drunk Rooster VDP Cotes Catalanes  14%

65% Grenache 35% Syrah

Smells a bit stemmy and dusty with some reductive funk that takes time to blow off.  This is earthy and minty/spicy with a medicinal edge and dark fruit that gives an over-all aromatic impression that is similar to a Smith’s Brothers Cough drop.  Soft on entry, polished with plenty of acidity yet very little in the way of tannin. This offers up some nice, pure and hinting at sweet plum and black cherry flavors with a touch of earth and spice. It gains some tension on the back end though fades away fairly quickly on the lightly sweet/licorice toned finish. 84pts

2007 Chateau Comte Devaugelas Saint Chinian  12.5%

A little musk and animal on the nose with really nice complexity revealing flashes of white flowers, sweet, dried dark cherries, earth, maybe a touch of pencil lead and a hint of sweet prosciutto.  Very smooth in the mouth while remaining firmly acidic, the tannins here have nearly melted away and what remains are well covered by even the modest fruit here. There’s a faint, aromatic chocolate frosting note on the palate over astringent red berry fruit with hints of pine and sweet nutmeat forming a base. The finish shows the wines astringency and while this has good length it’s supported by that astringency. 84pts

2007 Chateau Comte Devaugelas Minervois 13%

This shows some noticeable caramel almost bordering on bouillon on the nose with some spice herbal and earth nuances lurking behind.  In the mouth this is showing some loss of fruit with the rather woodsy, lightly spicy tannins sitting above the rather sweet toned, without being sweet dried fruit. There’s excellent acidity here but this simply doesn’t have enough buffering material left to keep things in balance. It’s a rustic wine and with rustic fare should be fine but I’d drink these sooner rather than later. 80pts