Tag Archives: Sainte-Cosme

Wine of the week: Little James Basket Press White 2016

Little James Basket Press whiteThe Little James Basket Press white once again offers quality, value and terroir for $10

The Wine Curmudgeon has never been able to figure out why the Little James Basket Press white keeps improving in quality while its companion red keeps getting less interesting. One would think both would improve – or not.

The Little James Basket Press white ($10, purchased, 13%) is a sauvignon blanc and viognier blend from southern France. It’s made by Sainte Cosme, a top-notch Rhone winemaker that makes high-end wines that get critical raves (and which makes the red’s drop in quality even more disappointing). That the producer spends the time and effort to make $10 wine is as welcome as it is surprising.

This vintage of the white is fresher and more tart (lemon?) than the 2015, which means more sauvignon blanc character. The viognier lends a floral aroma; if it doesn’t soften the wine, it does balance it. What doesn’t it taste like? The pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc that it’s compared to on the importer’s website. It’s French, and doesn’t resemble Italian or New Zealand wine. Which it’s not supposed to anyway.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Imported by The Winebow Group

Mini-reviews 90: Vermentino, two sauvignon blancs, and red Rhone

vermentinoReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Vermentino 2015 ($25, sample, 12.5%): This Italian white wine from the Antinori family has an almost creamy texture to go with its varietal lemon fruit and minerality. Very nicely done, and a step up from most $15 and $20 vermentinos.

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($7, sample, 13%): You get what you pay for with this Chilean white wine from Big Wine’s Concha y Toro. This supermarket staple has lots of harsh citrus fruit, though it should tone down a little over time.

Saint-Cosme Cotes du Rhone 2015 ($15, purchased, 14%): A disappointing vintage from what may be my favorite $15 wine. There is little more here than rich, dark berry fruit – no earthiness, no interest, and no reason think it’s from the Rhone. Maybe it needs more time in the bottle?

Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($6, purchased, 12.5%): Tastes almost exactly like most Big Wine New Zealand sauvignon blancs (lots of grapefruit and some freshness, but nothing special), and yet costs half as much. Go figure.

Wine of the week: Saint-Cosme C tes du Rh ne 2013

Saint-Cosme Cotes du RhoneDespite all the doom and gloom in the wine business, with prices rising and quality vanishing, there are still producers who care. And France’s Saint-Cosme is one of the best.

Its Little James Basket Press red and white blends from the Rhone are terrific examples of $10 wine, and the Saint-Cosme Cotes du Rhone red ($15, purchased, 13.5%) is a step up, a lesson in how to provide varietal character, terroir, and value. Or, as I wrote in my notes: “What a red Rhone blend at this price should taste like, and why can’t anyone else do this?”

Look for deep red fruit from the syrah and a little licorice, but more subtle than usual and almost tight; that is, where you think there should be more fruit flavor but it’s hiding but will come out as the wine ages. This Sainte-Cosme is earthy but not off-putting, and speaks to the traditional Rhone style where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Highly recommended. Pair this with any fall stew or meat dish as the weather gets cooler. And know that someone, for all the focus groups and private labels, still cares. Writes Sainte-Cosme’s Louis Barroul: “It is my pleasure to offer every year a wine of this quality at a reasonable level of price. This is what French wine means: bottle a bit of spirit even at an affordable price.”