On my recent trip to Dallas, Texas, I had the opportunity to enjoy this wine, which I haven't yet been able to find in my home market.
A joint project of winemaking dynamic duo Phillipe Cambie, an oenologist specializing in Rhone grapes and Michel Gassier, Vigneron of Chateau de Nages, the Halos de Jupiter line focuses on expressing the terroirs of several Rhone appellations. I brought back a bottle of the Rasteau to go in my cellar, and there are others made from Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Pape, Costieres de Nimes and Vacqueyras. Essentially a negociant project, the fruit for these wines is sourced from the various and sundry delimited southern Rhone regions, and vinted in such a way as to highlight their individual characters. They are imported by Eric Solomon's European Cellars, an importer whose nose for finding expressive, terroir centered wines is much renowned.
Everybody knows how much I love, love, LOVE Rhone wines, and it's no secret that I have yet to enjoy any of the Gassier wines that I've tasted. But without any journalistic bias whatsoever, I can definitely say that this wine is a delightful example of it's breed.
The wine pours a dark, intense purple that permits only the tiniest amount of light through it, just a bit of transparency at the rim, a definite display of both its youth and its incredible extraction and density. There is an intoxicating, pronounced nose of dark, cooked fruit upon initial inspection, but as it opens, notes of lavender, kirsch, black cherry pie and just the subtlest hint of black olive reveal themselves. Fruit is the dominant sensation here, but that is in no way a criticism. It isn't a fruit bomb in the inelegant, jelly-factory-floor-scrapings sense. It is just that the fruit component of this wine is so huge, it muscles everything else into submission. I always say that it is important to listen to a wine, and there are ample tannins, a vivacious acidity and a pretty rockin' amount of alcohol playing along here; the fruit, however, is like the guy in the band who has an amplifier three times the size of his bandmates. You really have to pay attention to notice what the others are doing.
As the wine opens in the glass, the tannins become more evident, as well as some stony minerality. It maintains its smoothness all the way through to a solid finish. This is a fine and lovely wine, that retails at the very modest price of $12.99. Part of the pleasure here is the wine's versatility; it could be easy or it could be Uptown, dressed up in a suit for a fine night out or just as comfortable in an old pair of 501's. One could open this as an after-work cocktail wine, or serve it with Sunday dinner. And I've always championed Rhone reds as execptionally friendly with a wide variety of foods. This will work well with anything but fish.