Even when recommending higher-end wines – like this or these – we still look for value. Whether we’re touting our favorite $10 wines or recommending a bottle in the $15 to $20 price range, they should taste as if they cost twice the price. One such $15 wine, which has been a solid performer for more than a decade and can taste like a $30 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is widely available around town for as little as $10 to $12 a bottle. And its newly released 2010 vintage could be its best yet.
“Great bargains continue to emerge from Domaine Grand Veneur as well as from their negociant arm of the business, labeled Alain Jaume,” noted influential wine critic Robert Parker in the June issue of his Wine Advocate newsletter.
“The 2010 Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Reserve (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Cinsault) displays loads of ripe flavors,” Parker wrote in June. “It is very concentrated for a Cotes du Rhone, and is actually an amazing wine. Classic garrigue, black cherry liqueur, lavender, licorice and spice box are all present in this full-bodied, intense, and rich Cotes du Rhone that sells for a song ($15).”
If $15 a bottle is a song, the $10 to $12 you’ll pay for the 2009 vintage is a symphony. The 2009, which is still more common on wine shop shelves, earned a solid 89 points from Parker and 88 points from Wine Spectator, and it’s priced at $9.99 a bottle at Unwined Online in Alexandria, $11.95 at Montgomery County Liquor stores and $11.99 at Calvert Woodley. (See slideshow for a representative sample of prices of both vintages around town.)
“Juicy and friendly, with flavors of cherry compote and blackberry preserves offset nicely by violet and black tea notes,” wrote James Molesworth in the May 31 issue of Wine Spectator. “A streak of graphite keeps the finish fresh.”
“The 2009 Cotes du Rhone Reserve (an identical blend) is soft, ripe, peppery, fruity, opaque ruby in color, with a more narrow palate,” said Parker, comparing it to the 2010 vintage, calling it an “excellent, … racy, [and] reasonably priced wine.”
While Molesworth recommends drinking the 2009 Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Reserve by the end of next year, Parker thinks the 2010 vintage is a keeper that could evolve over the next four to five years and may last even longer.
We’ve been buying Grand Veneur – along with its somewhat pricier single-vineyard bottling “Les Champauvins” – by the case since the 2000 vintage. And our experience is that it never lasts that long. Here’s to you if you have the patience.
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