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A Hearty, Comfort Red from France

Domaine La Monardière Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes 2004
James Molesworth
Posted: March 25, 2009

When I'm working in France's Rhône Valley, I may visit four or five domaines a day, but I still take time out to enjoy a good meal here and there. At Auberge de Cassagne, the wine list is rock-solid, with Southern Rhône offerings that match well with the classic French/Mediterranean cuisine from the kitchen.

The Vacqueryas appellation provides an attractive value alternative to its more famous neighbor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, producing mouthfilling reds with distinct personalities at reasonable prices. This wine (which costs 68 euros on the list and typically retails here for about $35) is a selection of Domaine La Monardière's old-vine Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre vines, aged 18 months in demi-muid (large, 600-liter barrels). It's dark and smoky with a mesquite note weaving through the roasted plum and currant fruit, all backed by a nice sauvage ("wild") hint. It's got a nice hearty mouthfeel and worked nicely with a roasted chicken and frites, delivering both country comfort and serious complexity. 92 points, non-blind.

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