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Wine Finds: Robust reds from Saint-Émilion and Saint-Chinian

  • Updated

Although many credit the 1996 launch of California’s Ménage à Trois wine brand as the beginning of the popular red blend category in the U.S., most of the red wines from France have historically been blends. Just look at Bordeaux, where cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and specific other grapes are almost always combined. Or in southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon where grenache, syrah and mourvèdre are often part of the mix. The following are two examples of full-bodied reds from the appellations of Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux and Saint-Chinian in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Château Belle Assise Coureau 2018, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, France

Bought • Costco, 8695 Olive Boulevard, in December for $13.79

Description • Grand cru wines from Saint-Émilion, one of the most prestigious appellations in Bordeaux, can be expensive. So being able to find such a high-scoring Saint-Émilion for less than $15 was a complete surprise. A blend of cabernet franc and merlot, this is a powerful but graceful red with lots of finesse. Rich and complex, it tastes of dark cherries, blackberries, oak, vanilla and a touch of leather and smoke. Although it’s ready to drink now, this red has supple tannins and will continue to improve with age. It would go well with steak and lamb.

Gérard Bertrand 2018 An 1877, Saint-Chinian, France

Bought • Costco, 8695 Olive Boulevard, in December for $9.99

Description • Wines from Saint-Chinian are not widely available in our market so this one is well-worth trying, especially because it scored 90 points from Wine Advocate and costs just under $10. The “An 1877” refers to the first Saint-Chinian railway line that enabled wines to be transported from the Languedoc region. A blend of 60% syrah and 40% mourvèdre that has been partially aged in oak, this is a meaty and spicy red with ample tannins that tastes of dark fruit and a touch of chocolate. Try it with a hearty stew such as boeuf Bourguignon.

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