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swirl and savor

Club Swirl June Selections from California

Beth Ribblett

Part wine club, part discount program, "club swirl" offers a great way to try new and exciting wines from around the world. Benefits include our 2 wines of the month, discounts on all wine purchases and tastings, invitations to special members only tastings, advance email notices on special wines brought into the store and more for only $39.99/month! Memberships applications are available, call 504.304.0635 for more details.

June's Selections

2006 Chateau Bellevue Cotes de Castillon

Côtes de Castillon is a relatively new appellation which dates back to 1989 and it is noted for its quick rise through the ranks in terms of quality and popularity. It gives an excellent price/quality ratio with its Bordeaux Supérieur. It takes its name from the town of Castillon-la-Bataille, and the battle that was fought there which brought an end to the Hundred Years War. The area is known as the place where the English lost control of Bordeaux.

The vineyards of Côtes de Castillon cover 7,500 acres and lie east of St Emilion and south of Fronsac on the right bank of the river. Most of the domains are less than 25 acres.

Côtes de Castillon rolls down the steep slopes of hills and valleys created by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers that flow through the area. Often facing south or south east, the vines that grow on these slopes have excellent exposure to the sun.

The climate is slightly warmer and drier than most of Bordeaux. The soil is clay and limestone on the hilltops, sandy gravel at the base of the slopes and clay and silt in the valleys.

Merlot is the primary grape variety planted due to the clay limestone soils and the more continental weather, followed by Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Château Bellevue was founded in 1998, with its oldest origins dating to the 1960's. The project is aided by Château Cheval Blanc's former enologist, Gilles Paquet. The wine is 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in mostly new oak barrels, 90% French oak, and 10% American oak, and some Château Haut Brion 2nd Barrels. It has intense red fruit aroma with lots of vanilla and toasty oak. It is delicious now, but also able to age and improve with a few years in the bottle.

Retail Price: $20.99
Club Swirl Price: $19.99/bottle or $17.86 with club swirl case discount

Domaine des Varinelles Cremant de Loire Brut
The product of a long Loire tradition of sparkling winemaking, the Crémant de Loire AOC came into being when the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), French organization charged with regulating controlled place names, drew up a very strict set of specifications to regulate the production of Crémant (slightly sparkling) wine nationally. Thanks to the traditional skills of the winegrowers and merchants and to ideal production conditions, Crémant de Loire has gradually been able to develop.

Cremant de Loire is made in the traditional Champagne method, but cannot be called Champagne because it is produced outside of the region. A neutral base wine of the permitted regional grapes is put into thick-glass bottles with a solution of sugar and yeast known as liqueur de tirage, which has a strong metal crown cap acting as a stopper, then left on its side for the components to do their work.

A second fermentation takes place within the bottle and as there is nowhere for the resulting carbon dioxide to escape to, the bubbles are absorbed into the wine. The bottles are left in the cellar after fermentation so that the yeasts can be tipped to the neck of the bottle so the dead yeasts can impart their rich, biscuity flavors to the wine. The necks of the bottles are then frozen to remove the yeasts and real cork is put in.

The Domaine des Varinelles, located in the town of Varrains, is an old family property, four generations old, and currently is run by Claude and Laurent Daheuiller. The vineyard today covers 42 hectares (or 100 acres), whose 32 ha in Saumur Champigny. The vineyard is planted with Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, including several well-known areas such as Les Petits Clos, Les Bonnezeaux, Le Clos Marconnet and Les Poyeux. The vines are 35 to 60 years old in average. The oldest were planted in 1900.

The blend on this wine is 60% Chardonnay, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Chenin Blanc and is complete finesse and elegance. Dry and crisp with a delightful mineral finish, the perfect summer sparkler!

Retail Price: $19.99
Club Swirl Price: $18.99/bottle or $16.99 with club swirl case discount

Or if you are receiving two red wines:

2007 Grand Veneur Champauvin Cotes du Rhone
In 1320 Pope Jean XXII planted the first vines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it was only in 1360 that the wines of the region first gained fame. Oddly, the wine that gave Châteauneuf-du-Pape its original reputation was the Blanc and not the Rouge. The white wine was a favorite of Pope Innocent VI. The Domaine dates back to 1826, having been founded at that time by Mathieu Jaume. Since 1979, Alain Jaume has run the Domaine and now has the help of his two sons: Sébastien and Christophe.

The estate is located in the commune of Orange and consists of 50 hectares (123 acres). It covers four different appellations: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Côtes-du-Rhône and Lirac.

Les Champauvins is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, with grapes coming from a single vineyard directly across the appellation boundary of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.Intense, brilliant garnet-red color. The aromas of woods and ripe red berries are typical of the terroir. The tannic structure is elegant and smooth. The finish is dominated by slight touches of spices and truffles. A complete wine, rich and fine.

"An outstanding sleeper of the vintage, the 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Les Champauvins is an amazingly good effort displaying a dark ruby/purple hue as well as a big, sweet bouquet of black raspberries, kirsch, pepper, garrigue, and earth. Dense, full-bodied, and ripe, it is as good as many producers- Chateauneuf du Papes. It should drink well for 7-8 years or more."
- Wine Advocate ( Oct. 2008), 91 pts

Retail Price: $19.99
Club Swirl Price: $18.99/bottle or $16.99 with club swirl case discount