February 11, 2007

2003 Domaine Lafage Cote Grenache Noir, Roussillon, France

I think that a lot of you will agree that there is something especially exciting about finding a great wine that is also a great deal. Cat and I try wines across a fairly tight price range, typically in the $10-$40/bottle, as this fits our budget best. That, and this range is full of tremendous wine of all varietals and styles. It is when we get close to that $10 mark and find a wine that compares with those that are much more expensive that we feel we have discovered something.

Sometimes you are just in the mood to try something different. I was walking around a local wine shop known for its excellently diverse selection, and happened upon this one. We love Grenache, the wines of Gigondas being among my favorites. On the back label Eric Solomon is listed as the importer. What I know of Eric Solomon is that he is incredibly picky about what wines he will import, and having his name on the back is an enormous stamp of approval. Then there is the price... $12.99. I bought it.

By way of background, the Grenache grape is a major contributor to the blends of southern Rhone wines. I mentioned Gigondas, and we reviewed the E. Guigal earlier, and in the Kaesler Avignon review we discussed the beauty of GSM's, like Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache not only adds a velvetty and dark fruit quality to blends like these, it makes a terrific stand-alone varietal for winemaking. The Domain Lafage is made by the husband and wife team led by Jean-Marc Lafage. They also make wines for wineries in Spain and South America, working with the importer mentioned above, Eric Solomon. Their homebase is in Cotes de Roussillon in the south of France. The Lafage style is to sometimes disregard convention, and in the case of this wine they chose to vint it without oak and to bottle it unfiltered. The results are a smooth, approachable medium bodied wine. There is plum and dark cherry in the nose, with a little bit of pepper and spice. On the palate the wine has great structure and is incredibly versatile, able to pair with a variety of foods. The flavors in the mouth are more plum, cranberry and a little earthy truffle-like quality. Very balanced with soft tannins and a longish finish. We found this wine to be a pleasant surprise and quite delicious. This is another example of a very well priced house wine, something that you could drink often with dinner without breaking the bank.

cost - $12.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.75

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