Saint Jean du Barroux
Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault
Cotes du Ventoux, Provence, France
$18.99 -- Wine Library, Springfield, NJ
Color: Deep purple
Nose: Cherry, licorice, rose water
Front: Sour cherry
Middle: Black licorice, rose, orange
Back: Sage, soft tannins
Burns clean?: Yes
It's yet another cold night in the Texas springtime. So yet another southern French wine comes out to warm my heart. This can take another year or four in the bottle, I wager. But I decanted it prodigiously then drank it vigorously with pepperoni pizza, and was happy. At first, the combination of the flavors described above strikes you as reminiscent of Ludens (cherry flavor) or perhaps even of Robitussin.
But this is not a bad thing. The fruit is fresh and sharp, but the herb and candy balance it nicely. It's surprisingly good with the pizza, considering the alcohol (and given my Robitussin comment above, I think the label's probably honest about the alcohol level). This wine is not elegant...but it might be magical.
An odd, and uncalled-for side comment--and French people, correct me on it if you must: I love Ricard, and other pastis blends. I can't help but feel a little pastis going on in this wine, and wonder if the French incline towards a licorice component perhaps more than Americans do. Almost everywhere has its own anisette: Raku, Anis del Mono, Jagermeister, pastis, etc. etc., all around the Mediterranean, at least. But the US, to my knowledge, has only imported anise-based beverages (I love Herbsaint, but, you know: New Orleans...it's colonial, basically).