In my wine experience, I have what I like to call ‘wishlist wines’. These are wines I admire from afar; wines that are often impossible to find or impossible to afford. Some people say it is better not to meet your heroes, and so perhaps it is best to keep the dream wines a fantasy we can admire in books, magazines or on extravagant wine lists. Now the flipside to the coin is what I like to refer to as ‘workhorse wines’. While the term does not conjure up a very romantic image, it describes wines that I can take pleasure in on a regular basis. Wines that are approachable at a relatively young age, and have appeal both as a wine to enjoy by the glass as well as being suitably food-friendly. One such wine, that both my wife Rachel and I count amongst our favourites, is the Chateau St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache.
Particularly appropriate as Grenache is one of my favourite red wine grapes for winter drinking, the Little James is a fantastic wine made by Chateau St. Cosme in Gigondas. It is produced in a solera style, which in this case means it is made up of 50% current vintage wine blended with a combination of the previous 10 vintages. This fractional blending gives the wine a very consistent, approachable style that offers wonderful complexity. On the nose you will find subtle earthy hints, dried red and black berry fruits, vanilla and sweet herbal notes. The palate is dry and medium full bodied with rich mouthfeel, balanced structure and layered black fruits, prune, cocoa powder and slightly nutty spice notes, with a very smooth lingering finish. Terrific to have on its own, or with a variety of firm cheeses, grilled meat, cassoulet or shepherd’s pie. Put your feet up and enjoy!