Michel Chapoutier has been making wine in the western part of the Languedoc region (in the South of France) for about twenty years. In that time he has made Bila-Haut wines a Be On The Look Out For label for French wine lovers.
Domaine de Bila-Haut L’esquerda is a Syrah, Grenache, Carignan blend commonly seen in this part of France–but there is nothing common about Chapoutier’s wines. He has taken both farming and wine making to a new level by letting the vineyards speak for themselves with wonderful natural character. So, if you’re looking for an honest French gem without breaking the bank, put the Bordeaux down for a moment and give a Chapoutier wine a taste. 28.00
If you look closely at the photo below, you will raised dots on the label. Yes, it’s braille. One of Chapoutier’s friends was blind, and found shopping for wine difficult–so Chapoutier honored his memory by incorporating Braille into each label.
2015 Geyser Peak Cabernet (CA) shows up with honest red berry flavors and soft tannins–just the thing for an easy, everyday red–at house wine price: 12.00
2013 Geyser Peak Devil’s Inkstand (named for a geological formation nearby) has it all: Alexander Valley fruit, and twenty one months in 100% French oak. The result is intense and layered–with dark preserved fruit and herbal notes. Polished tannins and nice staying power on this big guy–should have real cellaring potential. 55.00
2015 Geyser Peak Pinot Noir is what a lot of twelve dollar Pinots would like to be–loaded with red fruit character and finishing up soft and spicy: Deal. 12.00
2014 Geyser Peak Pluto’s Fury Pinot Noir ups the ante some, price-wise, but it over-delivers on quality/value. Russian River fruit pops out of the glass with vibrant color and flavor. In this day of pricey California Pinots, Pluto’s Fury is a joy to behold. 26.00
Just tasted the latest line up (2016) of Geyser Peak whites–Nice, very nice. Even Geyser Peak’s entry-level Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (12.00) bring on solid fruit and genuine character. Just when you think it can’t get any better, along comes Geyser Peak 2016 Russian Ranches Sauvignon Blanc (22.00) with its zingy acidity and layers of exotic fruit and Geyser Peak 2016 Water Bend Chardonnay–and its creamy, mouthwatering fruit (26.00).
Stella Pinot Grigio is pure Sicilian sunshine. Packaged in cool little pop top cans (four to a package=750ml) or in traditional bottles, Stella is a delight with its light, fresh pear/peach/citrus flavors. Stainless steel production insures that those flavors pop right out. PG is not usually my go-to white is clean, refreshing–Stella reminds me a bit of Vermentino–a Mediterranean cousin.
Hung up about wine in a can? Well, I guess you could always pour it into a glass…But seriously, if you’re on a hike, a picnic, at the pool, or beach–this little cutie is just the thing. 13.00
Four Virtues 2016 Lodi Zinfandel With Bourbon Oak Aging: Four Virtues Zin is a product of rich, full-bodied Lodi Zinfandel finished in heavily charred new American oak Bourbon barrels. Big and robust? Ya, with dark berry, spice–and a soft, smokey finish. And it comes in at a whopping 16.8% ABV. 20.00
The Languedoc wine region sprawls across the south of France from the Spanish border to the Riviera–and while it produces over a third of France’s wine, Languedoc does not have the fancy reputation of regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Loire. Languedoc wines might be under-valued–but they over-deliver.
Chateau Puech-Haut 2016 Prestige Rose comes from the coastal region of Montpellier and it showcases the region’s lush sub-tropical citrus, strawberry, and peach flavors. You won’t want to put the glass down. 20.00
Chateau Maris 2016 Minervois is another Languedoc beauty: a full-to-medium-bodied blend of organic Syrah and Grenache. The winemaker’s goal was to let the grapes speak for themselves–and I think they speak clearly of the richness and purity of the fruit. Thank goodness the French don’t keep all the good stuff to themselves–especially at this price: 15.00
Just tasted Sea Slopes 2106 Chardonnay and Sea Slopes 2016 Pinot Noir–both from the Sonoma Coast–and both very impressive.
Sea Slopes Chard is composed of top quality fruit held for fifteen months in stainless steel and French Oak. Malolactic fermentation added to the lush body and tangy citrus character. 30.00
Sea Slopes Pinot Noir gets the benefit of the cool climate of coastal Sonoma–something Pinots love. Sea Slopes Pinot starts with cranberry and bing cherry aromas before delivering layers of flavors to the palate. Dinner party material. 35.00
Carmenere is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina. The story goes that Carmenere was brought to Chile ages ago from France. Carmenere thrived in the high altitude Chilean vineyards but the locals lost track for its pedigree and the grape was eventually presumed to be Merlot–partly because of the soft fruit flavors often associated with Merlot. Eventually science sorted it all out and Chile Carmenere took its rightful place as Chile’s stellar red. Easy drinking and very affordable, Chilean Carmenere deserves a spot in any red wine lovers cellar.