Psst...wanna know about one of the best kept secrets in French wine? Rhone whites! You will absolutely fall in love, LOVE, with the following terrific, overachieving whites. Try one, or try them all! 2004 Domaine Combier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc ORGANIC ($17.99) Fleshy marsanne is in evidence in this honeyed, thick and luscious northern Rhone white that is held together with a long, tight seam of minerals and grippy acidity. The nose is effusive with white flowers and hints of ripe nectarine. Enjoy this elegant white before a traditional Provencal meal or a St. Marcellin cheese. 2004 Costieres de Nimes Chateau Grande Cassagne Blanc ($9.99) Grenache blanc and roussanne are behind this crisp and rich white from the South of France. The very floral nose will set you squarely in the southern Rhone, at a village market, say, where lavender and white flowers mingle with green olives and citrus. A tingle of oak on the finish adds complexity and remains a backnote. Perfect with brandade or a slice of fougasse (flatbread with onion, black olive and anchovy). 2004 Côtes du Rhone Blanc Domaine de la Becassonne ($13.99) Châteauneuf-du-Pape legend Andre Brunel fashions this rich, full-bodied Rhone white from 50% roussanne, 30% clarette and 20% grenache blanc. This offers aromas of sweet honeysuckle and flavors of apricots, peaches and minerals. Pair with virtually any Provencal fare, including roast chicken, fennel roasted pork loin, picholine olives! A truly exceptional wine value from the South of France! —Mulan Chan
2004 Highfield Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($13.99) This is a new offering in our portfolio of Kiwi sauvignon blancs, and a fine one indeed. Meticulous vineyard work and grape selection along with cold fermentation contribute to the perfumed nose of lime blossom, pink grapefruit, red bell pepper and minerals. 2004 Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa “Importers Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon Barossa Valley South Australia ($10.99) It’s tough to find good cabernet at this price, but once again they deliver. The bouquet shows notes of plum, cherry, black current, earth and a hint of herbs. Aged in French oak, there are hints of spice along with the fruit character framed by supple tannins leading to a fine finish. 2003 d’Arenberg “Laughing Magpie” Shiraz-Viognier McLaren Vale South Australia ($19.99) A blend of shiraz co-fermented with 6% viognier. Showing aromas of honeysuckle, marmalade, blackberry, and a hint of pencil lead, on the palate this is full bodied with wonderful balance, fine dusty tannins and great length. This is a superb price. I’d recommend putting some aside to drink over the next 3-5 years. 2002 Penfolds Bin 389 Shiraz-Cabernet South Australia ($18.99) Know as Baby Grange or Poor Man’s Grange, this wine shows elements of pepper, earth, black cherry, cassis, current and notes of cedar, spice box and mocha. I had the 1986 of this wine not long ago and it was absolutely terrific. A great cellar candidate, too! —Jimmy C
Château d’Yquem has delivered its Bordeaux Superiore, rarely produced and only the 23rd vintage since its first introduction in 1959. 2000 Château d’Yquem “Y” ($139.99) is a dry white wine showing delicate aromas of gardenia and jasmine, which mingle with clover, honey and light brioche. The fruit of the nose is carried to the palate, with a pleasant stony finish. This wine offers a perfect long finish. I would recommend this wine with any customary sauternes paring (foie gras) but strongly suggest lobster thermidor. On a sweeter note, the 2002 Le Dauphin de Guiraud, Sauternes (375ml) ($13.99) has a more exotic nose offering a refreshing honey and citrus finish. The bright, crisp and clean flavor makes this wine a great everyday sauterne that will be light enough to drink with any fruity dessert. Another great everyday drinker is the 1998 Reserve St. Julien, St-Julien ($14.99), from the great Saint-Emilion wine maker Hubert de Bouard (Angelus). A deep rich purple color and plenty of fruit to the nose, medium bodied with good structure. Will improve with some cellaring over the next 2-3 years. The 2002 Pagodes de Cos, St-Estèphe ($22.99) offers good value for the cellar. With plenty of sweet concentrated black fruit and cassis on the nose leading to a meaty more delicate finish. This wine should be drunk over the next 10 years. Last but not least, the 2000 Feytit Clinet, Pomerol ($34.99), is a merlot-based wine offering a black cherry and dark earthy nose. With tannins still very present, I would keep this wine in my cellar for another couple of years before opening. It will drink well for the next five years after that. —Alexandre Brisoux
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