We know European wines, particularly French, can be intimidating. Believe me, I get it! Unfortunately you do need to know a little about European geography to comprehend the labels. You don't need to know a ton but some. And we hope to teach you a little to make it less daunting because many European wines are just fantastic. Seriously! See some of them below, including the Brunello we just scored!
2007 Domain d'Andezon Côtes-du-Rhône, France. When you hear Côtes-du-Rhône, an area in southern France, you should automatically think of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre, usually the main grapes that comprise red Côtes-du-Rhône. This is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. The Syrah is from 40 year-old vines, and Grenache is from 60 year-old vines. It has a lovely texture and fuller body than most Côtes-du-Rhônes. A real blockbuster! Believe it or not, in '94 this wine was sold in bulk which we refer to as "vinous suicide." It was "saved" by a US wine distributor who added it to his portfolio and where it has remained a core item for him and us. Whew - that was a close one! ($12.99)
2008 La Châsse du Pape Côtes du Rhône, France. This wine should be an easy one. It's also from Côtes-du-Rhône, made by La Chasse du Pape, and is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche and Roussane. (Did you get all that?) Just like the red, one of the main grapes in white Côtes-du-Rhône is Grenache Blanc. This fruity, well-balanced, white Côtes du Rhône offers a delicate nose with aromas of white flowers, fresh lemon and grapefruit. Delicious on its own, it is also great with shellfish, grilled seafood and salads! ($12.99)
2008 Zum Martin Sepp Zweigelt, Austria. Zweigelt is a red grape, and is the most widely grown grape in Austria. Zweigelt, a hybrid grape created from St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch (Blue Franc), was developed in 1922 by Fritz Zweigelt. It takes the best qualities of its parent grapes. This Zweigelt is a great representation of Austria's most well-known red. Rich cherry, gamey and earthy aromas lead to bright cherry flavors and a soft, light-bodied feel on the palate. A fun label (see left) makes it a hit anywhere it goes. ($15.99 for 1 Liter)
2008 Pietra Majella Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy. Try the wine that cured the disease of hunger, "la scabbia della fame!" According to a Greek historian, Annibale, his horses and soldiers were dying from "la scabbia della fame," but once they drank this wine they were cured. Warm and dry with pronounced wild cherry and raspberry flavors, this red wine is full of life! The enticing bouquet fills your glass and is incredibly peppery with a clean finish. If you like Merlot, try this wine for a pleasing and spicy change. ($9.99)
2001 Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino. With only 700 cases made and even less shipped to the US this is a wine to snap up quickly because honestly there isn't much around. Gianni is an iconic figure in Italian winemaking. He has been making his wine since 1989 and is renowned for his Brunellos and Rosso di Montalcino. This Brunello was aged in oak for almost three years before being bottled in 2005. Just had it again tonight and it is great, classic Brunello. It needs some aeration time but then the red berry aromas lift up the glass beautifully, while in the mouth loads of spice, black cherry and pepper are abound. A Wine Spectator 91 pointer, I would wait at least another year before opening. ($67.99)