Red, Rhone Blends - Red, Other Red Blends, WINE

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Another regional style that has taken on a global application, the term "Rhône Blend" typically refers to wines made predominantly from the major, legally permitted varietals of the southern Rhône Valley in southeast France. Grenache is the primary grape varietal in most of these blends, and a wine will take on different characteristics depending on its proportional composition and its place of origin. As a blending component, Grenache is valued for the added body and fruitiness that it brings without added tannins. As a varietal, the grape's naturally low concentration of phenolics contribute to its pale color and lack of extract, but viticultural practices and low yields can increase the concentrations of phenolic compounds. Grenache-based wines tend to be made for early consumption with its propensity for oxidation make it a poor candidate for long-term aging. However, producers who use low yields grown on poor soils can produce dense, concentrated wines that can benefit from cellaring. Grenache-based wines can develop complex and intense notes of blackcurrants, black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices, and roasted nuts. When yields are increased, more overtly earthy and herbal notes emerge that tend to quickly fade on the palate.

Red wines from the southern Rhône can contain varying amounts of Cinsault, Counoise, Syrah, Mourvédre, and Carignan, but are almost always based on Grenache Noir. The characteristic of French Grenache-based wines depends largely on the selection of its blending partners and can range from the spicy richness associated with Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the chewy fruitiness associated with basic Côtes du Rhône Villages. Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Rasteau are other southern Rhône AOCs that produce their own distinctly characteristic Grenache-based wines. Generally, these wines are built for immediate consumption or mid-term aging, but the top examples, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, can endure extended cellaring. Grenache is widely grown throught Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, as well, albeit of generally lesser quality than in the Rhône Valley itself. Many sub-AOCs of Languedoc-Roussillon will use Grenache as a secondary component in blends featuring predominantly Carignan, Syrah, or Cinsault. But perhaps the most highly prized, non-Grenache-based Rhône blends in France hail from Bandol in Provence, where the hearty, meaty Mourvédre grape forms the basis of the wines. Elsewhere in Provence, Grenache is the main staple in the region's widely beloved, fruity rosé wines.

Spain, where the grape is known as Garnacha, has the largest concentration of Grenache vines in the world, and while the grape is often blended with local varietals across the country, the tiny, hilltop region of Priorat is considered the apex of Spanish Grenache-based wine production. Low yields, warm weather, and an increasing commitment to quality result in an iteration that, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and/or Carignan, can and must age for a number years to be fully enjoyable. These are wines of substantial power and body, with driving tannins, explosive fruit, and intensely earthy characteristics. Grenache is much less common in Italy, and in fact, it really only grows as Cannonau on the island of Sardigna, where it yields dark, brooding, powerfully tannic wines of supremely rustic character.

Grenache-based blends appear all over the New World, as well, but two countries in particular seem to have captured the formula to greater distinction than the rest. The grape appeared in Australia as early as 1832, and for a time it was the country's most widely planted varietal. Plantings in McLaren Vale, Barossa valley, and Clare Valley boomed, but by the mid-20th century it was overtaken by both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the past decade has seen a resurgence of the "GSM" blends with artisanal producers making the most of some seriously old vineyards. Varietal Grenache from the McLaren Vale is characterized by luscious richness and spicy notes while Barossa Valley Grenache is characterized by jammy, intense fruitiness. The United States has had its own surge of popularity in Grenache-based wines, beginning with the Rhône Rangers, a consortium of Central Coast growers in California who imported new cuttings from the Rhône valley for planting in the cooler Central Coast regions for use in the production of premium varietal Grenache and Rhône style blends. The wines of Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County are cool climate examples with bright red fruits and suave, gentle textures, while the warmer Paso Robles regions produces Grenache- and Syrah-based wines on par with Priorat for their ripeness, power, and intensity.

There are few, if any varietals, the world over that can display the kind of versatility and variance of style as Grenache, which goes a long way to explaining its popularity with growers and consumers alike. While it seldom reaches the same heights as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, it is nonetheless an equally important cornerstone in the world of wine.

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99-100 points Jeb Dunnuck: A step up over the 2015, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Da Capo is another perfect wine in the making and reminds me of the incredible 1998. Inky colored, with a huge, powerful bouquet of garrigue, pepper, kirsch, cured meats, and bouquet garni, this rocking effort… ...
JD 99-100
WA 96-98
V 95-97
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Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee da Capo 2016  (#333151)

750ml
In stock, 4 available

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

99-100 points Jeb Dunnuck: A step up over the 2015, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Da Capo is another perfect wine in the making and reminds me of the incredible 1998. Inky colored, with a huge, powerful bouquet of garrigue, pepper, kirsch, cured…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
JD 99-100
WA 96-98
V 95-97
Not yet reviewed; 2009 vintage rated Three Glasses by Gambero Rosso: Their 2009 Amarone is an almost transparent ruby garnet wine with an elegant aromatic profile. It unfolds slowly, with super-ripe fruit followed by spices and crushed flowers. Finally a delicate and unwavering minerality emerges.… ...
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Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011  (#334994)

750ml
In stock, 1 available

Other Red Blends from Veneto, Italy

Not yet reviewed; 2009 vintage rated Three Glasses by Gambero Rosso: Their 2009 Amarone is an almost transparent ruby garnet wine with an elegant aromatic profile. It unfolds slowly, with super-ripe fruit followed by spices and crushed flowers.…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$299.95
$375.00
Save $75.05 (20%)375.00
Save $75.05 (20%)
100 points Antonio Galloni (Vinous): Readers should do whatever they can to get their hands on a few bottles of the 2013 d'Alceo. Seamless and voluptuous in the glass, it is an epic wine that embodies all the qualities that make these terraced vineyards in Panzano so special. Blackberry jam, crème… ...
AG 100
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Castello dei Rampolla Toscana Vigna d'Alceo 2013  (#701903)

750ml
In stock, 1 available

Other Red Blends from Tuscany, Italy

100 points Antonio Galloni (Vinous): Readers should do whatever they can to get their hands on a few bottles of the 2013 d'Alceo. Seamless and voluptuous in the glass, it is an epic wine that embodies all the qualities that make these terraced…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$199.95
$240.00
Save $40.05 (17%)240.00
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95+ points Ian D'Agata (Vinous): Fully saturated inky ruby. Superb nuance and lift to the aromas of raspberry, kirsch, violet, licorice pastille and sweet spices. Wonderfully sappy and energetic in the mouth, with outstanding energy and lift to its red and darker fruit, floral and mineral flavors.… ...
V 95
WS 94
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Bussola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto Alto TB 2009  (#332954)

750ml
In stock, 1 available

Other Red Blends from Veneto, Italy

95+ points Ian D'Agata (Vinous): Fully saturated inky ruby. Superb nuance and lift to the aromas of raspberry, kirsch, violet, licorice pastille and sweet spices. Wonderfully sappy and energetic in the mouth, with outstanding energy and lift to its…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$169.95
$200.00
Save $30.05 (15%)200.00
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94 points Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate): The 176-case 2014 The Lovers checks in as 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah... The Cabernet shows beautifully here with its blackcurrants, graphite and dried herbs, with some meaty, smoky notes (no doubt from the Syrah) coming through on the background. A… ...
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Cayuse Cabernet/Syrah Walla Walla Valley The Lovers 2014  (#331291)

750ml
In stock, 3 available

Other Red Blends from Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington

94 points Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate): The 176-case 2014 The Lovers checks in as 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah... The Cabernet shows beautifully here with its blackcurrants, graphite and dried herbs, with some meaty, smoky notes (no doubt…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 3 available
100 points James Suckling: OMG. This is really the most amazing young Taylor's I have ever tasted. Full-bodied and lightly sweet with super power and intensity. So racy and focused. Yet this has such muscle and intensity. Needs at least eight years to show you everything it has to offer. Drink in… ...
JS 100
WS 98
IWR 98
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Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2016  (#702066)

750ml
In stock, 9 available

Port from Porto DOC, Portugal

100 points James Suckling: OMG. This is really the most amazing young Taylor's I have ever tasted. Full-bodied and lightly sweet with super power and intensity. So racy and focused. Yet this has such muscle and intensity. Needs at least eight years…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
JS 100
WS 98
IWR 98
97 points Tim Atkin, MW: 'I’m not scared of time,' says Eben Sadie, 'because if you are, you’re afraid of structure in your wines.' This Columella bears him out. Blending Syrah with smaller amounts of Mourvèdre, Tinta Barocca, Cinsaut and Grenache, it’s not a particularly powerful wine at 13.5% but… ...
TA 97
WS 94
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Sadie Family Columella Swartland 2016  (#702198)

750ml
In stock, 2 available

Other Red Blends from Swartland, Western Cape, South Africa

97 points Tim Atkin, MW: 'I’m not scared of time,' says Eben Sadie, 'because if you are, you’re afraid of structure in your wines.' This Columella bears him out. Blending Syrah with smaller amounts of Mourvèdre, Tinta Barocca, Cinsaut and Grenache,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 2 available
$119.95
$170.00
Save $50.05 (29%)170.00
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98 points Jeb Dunnuck: Deep ruby-colored and offering a heavenly bouquet of black raspberries, toasted spiced, cured meats, licorice, and cured meats, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Combes des Fous is awesome on the palate, with a silky, seamless profile that just keeps on going. Possessing ultra… ...
JD 98
WA 95
WS 95
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Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Combe des Fous 2016  (#333032)

750ml
In stock, 12+ available

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

98 points Jeb Dunnuck: Deep ruby-colored and offering a heavenly bouquet of black raspberries, toasted spiced, cured meats, licorice, and cured meats, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Combes des Fous is awesome on the palate, with a silky, seamless…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JD 98
WA 95
WS 95
$119.95
$135.00
Save $15.05 (11%)135.00
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97 points Wine Spectator: A big, lush style, this red delivers pure aromas and flavors of black currant, cherry, violet, flint, tobacco and baking spices. This is supple, yet backed by a firm, dense matrix of tannins, so all the components are there, but this needs time to integrate. Lovely sweet,… ...
WS 97
WA 97
WA 95-97
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Antinori Tignanello 2016  (#702305)

750ml
Pre-arrival, 12+ available

Other Red Blends from Tuscany, Italy

97 points Wine Spectator: A big, lush style, this red delivers pure aromas and flavors of black currant, cherry, violet, flint, tobacco and baking spices. This is supple, yet backed by a firm, dense matrix of tannins, so all the components are there,…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
WS 97
WA 97
WA 95-97
PRE-ARRIVAL
92-94 points Jeb Dunnuck: Lastly, the 2017 Estate Cuvee shows the effects of the heat spikes and has some firm, angular tannins that are buffered by lots of blackcurrant fruit. It has classic graphite, licorice, and lead pencil aromas, medium to full body, and good length, yet it’s certainly not… ...
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L'Aventure (Stephan Vineyards) Estate Cuvee Paso Robles 2017  (#335066)

750ml
In stock, 4 available

Other Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California

92-94 points Jeb Dunnuck: Lastly, the 2017 Estate Cuvee shows the effects of the heat spikes and has some firm, angular tannins that are buffered by lots of blackcurrant fruit. It has classic graphite, licorice, and lead pencil aromas, medium to full…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
99 points James Suckling: This is a huge and impressive wine, but somehow graceful and subtle. It packs an eclectic array of brambleberry compote, violet essence, eucalyptus, oyster shell, pure iodine, vanilla, resin, tar, cassis, plum liqueur and hot stones. You can only stand back in awe as one… ...
JS 99
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Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato Riserva 2013  (#335080)

750ml
Pre-arrival, 12+ available

Other Red Blends from Veneto, Italy

99 points James Suckling: This is a huge and impressive wine, but somehow graceful and subtle. It packs an eclectic array of brambleberry compote, violet essence, eucalyptus, oyster shell, pure iodine, vanilla, resin, tar, cassis, plum liqueur and…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
PRE-ARRIVAL
98-100 points Mark Squires (Wine Advocate): The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when seen but the final blend, is a field blend aged for approximately 20 months in wood. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar. A step up (or two) on the 2016, this shows fine depth, more focus, vivid fruit… ...
WA 98-100
JS 99
V 98
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Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2017  (#334947)

750ml
Pre-arrival, 12+ available

Port from Porto DOC, Portugal

98-100 points Mark Squires (Wine Advocate): The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when seen but the final blend, is a field blend aged for approximately 20 months in wood. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar. A step up (or two) on the…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
WA 98-100
JS 99
V 98
PRE-ARRIVAL
$99.95
$120.00
Save $20.05 (17%)120.00
Save $20.05 (17%)
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