2005 Rhone Valley … Chateauneuf

2005 Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages Cuvee Sabrine
Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
$15.49
  Add to Cart
$13.16 per bottle with case discount.
“I’d like a nice Châteauneuf du Pape … under $20.” – Many Wine House customers.I tasted this almost a year ago with Andre Brunel, and I was immediately impressed by the amplitude and scale of the wine. “Châteauneuf-like” was underlined multiple times in my notes. Naturally I was excited to try the wine when it arrived at our warehouse, hoping for consistency of notes. Say what you will about the life experience virtue of being wrong, realizing you’re wrong, and learning from being wrong. I find myself in a much better mood when I get it right. And while I hear that pride is a bad thing, I have yet to be convinced that being right is wrong. You can see where this is going. I’m proud to announce my original notes were right. (Pride is bad.) Without being grown there, and without saying it on the label, this is pretty much Châteauneuf du Pape.Not Châteauneuf du Pape à la teeny new oak barrel or deep purple extract or high alcohol. This is not Châteauneuf du Pape to be mistaken for Barossa wine. More like the style that made the reputation in the first place. Also, let me remind us this is not Châteauneuf du Pape. Notice the price. This is a high level Rhone Villages wine that would fool me into thinking it was Châteauneuf du Pape if it weren’t so clearly labeled. It reminds me that old vine, Rhone grown Grenache is a great argument for the existence of terroir. When not obscured by technique, it has an unmistakable garrigue character. Everybody says so, you’ve heard it many times, and that’s because it actually tastes and smells like the countryside. Châteauneuf du Pape is especially noble in its garrigue expression, and this Cuvee Sabrine walks with a similar gait. It also has deepness and warmth. Not alcohol heat (it’s 13.5%), but a suggested warmth that is the grape’s expression of the provencal sun. Very useful this time of year.

I keep comparing this wine to Châteauneuf du Pape, not to make a quick sale, but to answer (and echo) a constant customer request. As the prices on these famous wines move out of the reach of casual consumption, I still want to be able to facilitate the request for affordable Châteauneuf. My solution is to point to (one of my favorite CdP producers) Andre Brunel’s Sabrine. It is to the Rhone Valley what Sociando Mallet and Pontet Canet (pre-2005) are to the Medoc: High quality, lower price. And that is exactly what we need this time of year. – Ben Jordan

2005 Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages Cuvee Sabrine
Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
$15.49
  Add to Cart
$13.16 per bottle with case discount.

Notes
New Year’s Resolutions. I cheat with these. It is my personality to resolve throughout the year, rather than front loading in January. When people ask me, I tend to pull out something I started doing in November or May. My wine New Year’s resolution (started in October) was to stop using the word ‘balance’. In the interest of explaining myself, I will be using the word ‘balance’ a number of times in this paragraph, but after that I’m done. This is the wine word I was overusing to the point of abusing. I started to sneer at myself when I said it. The problem is, I prize balance in wines, therefore the wines I like are always what I would describe as balanced, and when people ask for a recommendation I go to the wines I like, start describing them, and end up talking about the balance. It was annoying me, so I decided to try to stop. Please support me in this, and try not to dangle unfinished sentences about wine components and whether they are … ? You can assume that the wines I write about are well endowed with the state of being that is described by this word that I don’t want to say anymore. Including the 2005 Cuvée Sabrine. On top of everything else I love about it, it is very …

In terms of ‘real’ notes, I love the old vine Grenache garrigue and the Syrah pepper, though who can really attribute the exact varietal origin of the flavors? Since there is no new wave oak treatment, the structure is all from the grapes: sweet, dark and chewy. This wine is better compared to those above $20, and at $13.16 with the case discount it represents one of the great Rhone deals on the market. With the fallen dollar, this is already a price of the past that we just happen to still be charging now.

Email me at ben.winehouse@sbcglobal.net with questions/comments and synonyms for the ‘b’ word.

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