Hello friends. New bottling today of one of the coolest value wines out there: Little James Basket Press from Saint Cosme. In addition, we’ll offer the Little James Blanc, which is another fine value, and one we’ve never previously offered:
A reminder of what Little James is all about: Louis Barruol of Saint Cosme has (rightly) built his public reputation on wines from his home base of Gigondas. But among the wine-trade/insider/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 a 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 2013), and 50% from the solera, which at this point contains juice from every vintage from 1999 to 2012. 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. The label shows the playfulness at the heart of Little James, but what are we to do when a wine intended for playfulness turns out to sneakily contain a little seriousness?
I suppose the answer is to enjoy it however we want. Little James 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 15 years old doesn’t hurt), and if you want to take your time with this bottle and pay attention, you’ll be rewarded handsomely. It begins with a nose of brambly raspberry, strawberry, mint, and a whole host of Provencal herbs and flowers. What a fragrant, appetizing nose! The palate mixes dried-fruit complexity from the solera with freshness and lift from the younger juice. The overall package is rich, delicious, chockful of character. As it always does, this punches well above its price class.
We bought the entire parcel of the 2014 bottling remaining in Seattle. The 2015 bottling won’t arrive for months, so in the meantime, we have an effective exclusive on Little James Rouge.
Saint Cosme winemaker Louis Barroul always offers insightful notes on his wines. Here’s an example: [TEXT WITHHELD].
Barroul is right, both that Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are uncommon blending partners, and also that he manages to make a good marriage of the two grapes. To me, this drinks like Viognier with an acid injection. The Sauvignon Blanc seems to influence the texture in a major way (adding brightness and lift via a sturdy acid spine) but not so much the aroma and flavor, which is very much Viognier. Honeysuckle, orange peel, peach, fresh ginger; it’s all there, as is Viognier’s lovely inner-mouth perfume. Another sneaky charmer from the Little James lineup.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The LJ Rouge is already in the warehouse. The LJ Blanc should arrive in the next week or two, at which point both wines will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.