April's tasting featured the southern Rhone appellations of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, both a source of powerful wines that generally sell for less than their more expensive neighbors in Chateauneuf du Pape.
Dominated by the Grenache grape, these usually also contain significant portions of Syrah and Mourvedre for complexity and structure.
It was noteworthy that while all of the wines showed similar spicy and dark fruit qualities, they were all very distinct from each other.
First Place: Roucas Toumba Vacqueyras Les Restanques de Cabassole 2010. Tasters found complex scents of bamboo shoots, iodine, wet bark, dark cherry, seaweed, spices, licorice, and something medicinal. Andy felt that "this one's got a story to tell", and Kristin said it had "the full journey". Flavors of blue and black fruit, butterscotch, coffee, and cherries. Great balance. Great texture and more complete. David enjoyed the "fantastic finish", however Suzanne said that it "feels like a poser to me". This was Kristin, Andy, and David's favorite of the night. Received a total of 22 points. David's Bottle. About $35.
Second Place: Domaine Mas du Bouquet Vacqueyras 2010. Dark color. Ali found "cream and glue", with Suzanne detecting "warm spice" and felt it was "inviting". Cinnamon and boysenberry scents also emerged. This had a great attack, with flavors of prunes, cream, rose petal, bitter chocolate, and tomato skins. Solid tannins that clamp down on the finish, with good texture, and gets more expressive with air. Suzanne felt is was the "most responsive with the food", and David thought that "the finish really amps up". Made from 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. Suzanne's favorite of the night. Received 19 points. Ali's bottle. About $20.
Third Place (tie): Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueyras 2010. The nose offered scents of locker room, acetone, spices, red berries, red licorice, pomegranate, charcoal, and grapefruit juice. Kristin found "smoking barn", while Andy noted "old spice and socks". Blueberries, coffee, dark chocolate notes in the mouth, with Ali finding "meat braised in blueberries". Great texture, chewy, with good length, and very consistent. Received 13 points. Suzanne's bottle. About $23.
Third Place (tie): Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2011. Aromas reminiscent of blackberry jam, black magic marker, dust, menthol, wet soil, licorice, and charcoal. Andy was reminded of "basketball", with Ali expanding this idea, saying "a well air conditioned Sports Authority". Spicy in the mouth, with wild berry, "some sort of pork product" (Kristin), licorice, green pepper, grape Kool-Aid, and citrus. Ali said that "I'm angry that it has totally disregarded the front of my palate". Andy's bottle. 13 points. About $37.
Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Cuvee Tradition 2006. Licorice and candy on the nose, plus cleanser, balloons, tea, vegetables, and Band Aid. Ali found something "mixed with baby powder", while Suzanne noted "the mountains in Boulder, Colorado". David just found it "odd". A bit thinner, featuring flavors of rhubarb and wet paper bag. Ali declared, "I hate it", while David saild it "has some fruit to it, but it's a little under-ripe", and then Kristin found "Twix bar". Received 3 points from Suzanne. Kristin's bottle. About $32.