Here are some quicky reviews on some really great red wines – not good, but really great. The price point is a tad higher than the value wines I write about in the newspaper column but, I’d argue, the wines are better than the price point listed!

Philippe Cambie La Calendal 2007 Cotes du Rhone – There is good and then there is crazy good. If you like Rhone wines, no .. make that … if you like red wine, you are going to love this incredible and unique French blend.

I bought this wine because I had heard Philippe Cambie referrer to in such glowing terms in the wine media over and over and over. Well, my colleagues are right on this one. This is a unique Rhone wine because of the blend. It’s 80 percent Mourvedre and 20 percent Grenache.

This was smooth and rich like many Rhone wines but it had much more of a mid-palate and secondary notes than most Rhone bottles. It has dark and earthy qualities beyond the usual $15 entry. For me, credit the Mouvredre – probably my favorite grape many haven’t even heard about! Robert Parker gave this wine 92 points – quite high for a Parker rating of Rhone.

The Cambie wine is easily one of the best Cotes du Rhones I’ve ever tasted.

Philippe Cambie La Calendal 2007 Cotes du Rhone, $23-$27, Very Highly Recommended. 

Girard 2009 Artistry – This big red California blend is awesome wine. It’s a rich blend of 56 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Cab Franc, 11 percent Petite Verdot, 10 percent Merlot, and 8 percent Malbec. It’s obviously a Bordeaux style blend that delivers serious bang for the buck. I bought this on an online wine site for $23-$24 but it normally sells at $45.

Frankly, I usually don’t find these wines that good at $45 but this one is an exception. It’s got bright flavors like a cherry or spice. It has a long-lasting finish and beautiful mouth feel. It’s big alcohol at 15 percent without the burn on the finish.

The wine publications, Wine Spectator and Enthusiast, consistently like this wine with ratings of 89-92 through the 1008 vintage.

If you aren’t drinking California blends you are missing out on a lot of great red wines.

Girard 2009 Artistry, $44.99, Highly Recommended

Morlanda Crianza 2007 Priorat – This is great dry Spanish wine. At $40 it may scare some people off, but frankly it drinks above even that price point.

This dry beauty has currents, coffee, and dirt on the palate. This is dry and wonderful red wine. It’s not a sipper but works well with food. I loved this wine with some mildly-spiced, roasted pork.

How do you coax a vineyard into making great wine? You drop fruit and take a low yield. The winery gets just over one ton an acre from the vineyards for this wine. And if you want another good sign, there are only 3,000 cases of the wine produced.

Spectator, Enthusiast and Advocate all give the 2007 a rating of 90 points.

Morlanda Crianza 2007 Priorat, SRP $40, Trade Sample, Highly Recommended.

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