Monday, March 7, 2011; 10:20 PM
Here are some wines I've tasted recently that are worth seeking out. Some of them are new to this market and will be reaching more store shelves in the coming weeks.
Domaine du Pas de L'Escalette Les Clapas Blanc 2009
Languedoc, France, $33
This blend of obscure grapes - white carignan and Terret Bourret - is the product of old vines on the estate now farmed by the husband-and-wife team of Julien Zernott and Delphine Rousseau. "Les Clapas" refers to the stone-walled terraces on which the vines are grown, on mountain slopes at about 1,150 feet elevation. The winery's name refers to the ancient road from central France to the Mediterranean shore, which passed through the site. Zernott and Rousseau have built the ancient property into one of the leading wineries of the Languedoc, where tradition and innovation combine in a way that happens nowhere else in France.
Elite: Available in the District at Cork Market; on the list at Et Voila!, Ici Urban Bistro, Local 16, Rasika. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, the Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Tastings of Charlottesville.
Domaine du Pas de L'Escalette Les Clapas Rouge 2008
Languedoc, France, $23
Old-vines carignan blended with grenache, cinsault and syrah yields a lovely wine that seems to offer an escape to southern France in every sip. It is fresh and herbal, with scents of thyme and rosemary and flavors of rich, dark fruit and sun-baked earth.
Elite: Available in the District at Cork Market, Schneider's of Capitol Hill; on the list at CityZen. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; on the list at 13.5% Wine Bar in Baltimore, Grapeseed in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Tastings of Charlottesville.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc 2007 Beeswax Vineyard
This is California maverick Randall Grahm's version of a white Rhone blend, using roussanne and grenache blanc. It is full-bodied and rich, with a waxy texture and herbal notes of lavender and spice over a subtle core of fruit. The vineyard was farmed biodynamically when this wine was made; it received full Demeter certification as biodynamic for the 2008 harvest. That there isn't more demand for this wine is frankly puzzling.