“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” So said Oscar Wilde. Although we understand the poet’s spirit on the subject, there are times when consistency is preferred over any alternative. From healthy check-ups at the doctors’, delicious heirloom tomatoes, safe flights and comfortable shoes, there are times and places for it. It’s a slippery slope here, consistency in wine. We want the expression of terroir, and certainly the signature of any particular vintage to be present in wine we enjoy, but consistently, we want the wine to taste good! Consistent quality is hardly universal among wines priced in the teens, but we’ve been stocking a particular red from Costières de Nîmes that delivers big time year after year. You can read our notes on the 2005, the 2007, the 2009, and the 2010 on our blog.
Last night after we closed, the remains of several bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts were lined up on our tasting table for our staff to sample, including the 2011 Les Cimels from Château d’Or et de Gueules. Knowing what I know about this wine, it was easy to imagine that it would be to my liking, but just how much, I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve been saying it to customers over and over again for years now, “For me, my favorite bottle of red wine at (or near) the $15 level is a no-brainer, Les Cimels.“ I should not have been as surprised and blown away as I was last night, as I’ve been saying it for years. The character of this wine was not lost upon our staff here. Imagine all of us in the same room, glasses in hand, swirling, sniffing, and sipping. Anya was just shaking her head, “You can’t find complexity and character like this in this price range. As hard as it is to believe that she can improve this wine, she’s gone and done it!” Chris was fixated on a particular nuance, “Oh, what is it?! It’s a tree thing, you know forest floor, but like tree sap. Yeah! Pine tree sap, that’s it!” Tom summed it all up by saying, “You can point to all of the complexity and say things like pine tree sap, forest floor, and black tea, but again, it’s all about character. It’s got a ton of complexity and character that you would never find elsewhere at this price point.” That’s what I’m saying as well.
I was the lucky one who took what was left in the bottle home and enjoyed it with a little late-night pasta with red sauce and a Garlic/Gruyere sausage. It was perfect. It had plenty of friendly fruit to stand up to the tangy sauce and the woodsy forest floor essence just added to the flavor sensation of the savory sausage. I poured it judiciously, and was rewarded with a half glass after the dishes were done.
The Wine Advocate’s Rhône specialist, Jeb Dunnuck had this to say when he tasted the 2011 Les Cimels from barrel:
“Tasted out of barrel, the 2011 Costieres De Nimes Les Cimels is an impressive blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Carignan and 10% Grenache that will spend upwards of two years in tank prior to bottling. Displaying a complex, layered and rich profile, with notions of old leather, plum, cedar, ink and spice-cabinet all emerging from the glass, it is medium+-bodied, beautifully textured and has solid underlying structure. It’s a superb value and should drink nicely for 5-7 years.“
We taste a lot of wine here at TWH. The quality levels of these wines are all over the map. It’s a real challenge with wines priced in the teens, to find wines that are more than “one dimensional,” “tricked-up,” or “lacking,” let alone find wines of character and complexity like we have here in the 2011 Les Cimels from Château d’Or et de Gueules. So with all due respect for Oscar Wilde, we sure are happy for the consistency exhibited by winemaker Diane Puymorin! – Peter Zavialoff