Domaine La Colliere 2012 Les Touilleres Côtes du Rhône-Villages Rasteau Rhone Valley ($18.00) (Red) Rating: 91
This 2012 Côtes du Rhône-Villages Rasteau Les Touillères was made by Georges Perrot, a well-known local bon vivant and gourmand as well as a serious winemaker. A classic Provençal Côtes du Rhône, it offers notes of kirsch liqueur, damp earth, melted chocolate, forest floor and roasted herbs. A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the rest Carignan and Mourvèdre aged 12 months in concrete, this beauty should drink well for 5-6+ years.
Michel Gassier 2012 Nostre Païs Blanc Costieres de Nimes ($20.00) (White) Rating: 91
Another white Châteauneuf du Pape look-alike, the 2012 Nostre Païs Blanc was produced by the brilliant Michel Gassier assisted by his equally talented oenologist, Philippe Cambie. Made from a blend of 53% Grenache Blanc, 38% Roussanne, 6% Viognier and 3% Bourboulenc, aged six months on its lees in French oak, it exhibits lots of buttered citrus along with caramelized pears and apricots, a medium to full-bodied texture, and a crisp, zesty, dry finish that is loaded with fruit. Consume it over the next year.
Gassier-Cambie-Solomon 2012 Cercius Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône Rhone Valley ($17.00) (Red) Rating: 90
This is the joint venture of Michel Gassier, Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon. Their 2012 Cercius Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône, a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah aged six months in concrete, tips the scales at nearly 15% alcohol. Possibly the finest Cercius produced to date, this gorgeous red reveals a lot of sucrosity (sweetness from ripeness, not residual sugar) along with loads of lavender, black raspberry, kirsch, licorice and a touch of pepper. Well-balanced, pure, medium to full-bodied and savory, this superb value should drink nicely for 2-3 years.
Chateau Juvenal 2012 Côtes du Ventoux La Terre du Petit Homme Rhone Valley ($20.00) (Red) Rating: 90
Made with the consulting assistance of the inimitable Philippe Cambie, this 2012 La Terre du Petit Homme comes from an up-and-coming treasure-trove for values, the Côtes du Ventoux. A blend of equal parts Grenache and Syrah, with the Grenache kept on its lees in stainless steel and the Syrah in new French oak, it exhibits lots of crème de cassis, blackberry, acacia flower and camphor notes as well as a fresh, attractive, medium-bodied mouthfeel with impressive purity, texture and length. The tannins are soft and unobtrusive. Drink this lovely red over the next several years.
Bodegas Mas Alta 2011 Black Slate La Vilella Alta, Priorat, Spain ($22.00) (Red) Rating: 94
This is a joint project between Rhône negoçiant and winemaker, Michel Tardieu and French oenologist, Philippe Cambie, working in conjunction with importer Eric Solomon. The 2011 Black Slate comes from 15 to 60-year-old, head-pruned vines, and the final blend was 60% Grenache, 35% Carignan and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberry, blueberry, licorice, truffle and camphor scents jump from the glass of this dense, full-bodied, opulent, unctuously textured red. This soft, round, delicious, impressive wine should provide plenty of pleasure over the next 2-4 years.
Chateau Puech Haut 2012 Prestige Coteaux du Languedoc Languedoc-Roussillon ($20.00) (Red) Rating: 91
This superb estate is owned by Gérard Bru, who has hired some of the finest winemakers in the world as consultants (Michel Rolland, Claude Gros and now Philippe Cambie). Bru makes a number of cuvées (some too expensive for this value report) including two terrific rosé offerings. The inexpensive 2012 Prestige Coteaux du Languedoc is a blend of 55% Grenache (60-75-year-old vines) and 45% Syrah (40-year-old vines) aged 12 months in concrete. It is a disarmingly juicy, complex, full-bodied, dark ruby/purple-colored effort displaying a sweet kiss of lavender, acacia flowers, pepper, black raspberries and kirsch. Round, generous and medium to full-bodied with elegance as well as flavor authority, this pure, beautifully textured 2012 should continue to drink well for another 3-5 years.
Domaine Roche 2012 Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne Rhone Valley ($20.00) (Red) Rating: 90
A sexy wine made under the auspices of globe-trotting oenologist Philippe Cambie, this 2012 Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne was produced from 40 to 105-year-old vines. The blend was 70% Grenache (aged in concrete) and 30% Syrah (aged in barrique) from yields of 20 to 30 hectoliters per hectare. It exhibits a delicious, up-front, front end-loaded, richly fruity style with lots of raspberry, black cherry, roasted herb, loamy soil and underbrush notes. This corpulent, fleshy red can be enjoyed over the next 4-5 years.