NV Saint-Cosme Little James’ Basket Press

Hello friends. Louis Barruol of Saint Cosme has (rightly) built his public reputation on wines from his home base of Gigondas in the Southern Rhone.

But among the wine-trade insider and sommelier set, there may be even more affection for his least expensive wine. Because it’s one thing to make a quality Grenache that retails for $30-$100; it’s something else to develop a Grenache that brings pleasure for ten bucks:

Much more frequently spotted on restaurant glass-pour lists than on retail shelves, this is as perfect an autumn/winter house wine as there is, an easy choice for a drizzly Wednesday night.

Louis began this as a solera project in 1999. It’s a NV (non-vintage) bottling, and each bottle contains about 50% of the most recent vintage (in this case 2011), and 50% from the solera, which at this point contains juice from every vintage from 1999 to 2010. It gets the Vin de France designation, because it contains juice from the Cosme Grenache holdings in the Southern Rhone as well as the Languedoc.

As we all know, there is a surfeit of serious bottles in the wine world. This is not intended to be one of them, as you can suss from the label.

What are we to do, then, when a wine intended for playfulness turns out to sneakily contain a little seriousness?

Answer: enjoy it either way.

This can be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure it brings, the lovely pure expression of briar-berry Grenache. But there is undeniable complexity here (having a small proportion of juice that is up to 13 years old doesn’t hurt), and if you want to take your time with this bottle and pay attention, you’ll be rewarded handsomely. There is a core of plum fruit and brambly black raspberry, married nicely to garrigue notes, all of it fresh fresh fresh. The whole package tastes like herbes-de-provence steeped in raspberry tea, and it finishes with an unexpected lick of rustic tannin, one final reminder that the wine in your mouth represents incredible stuffing for the tariff.

Folks planning holiday parties or winter weddings should consider Little James as a strong option. First come first served up to 72 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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