The vast world of wine can be intimidating. There are often hard to pronounce foreign names and strange wine labels that give little insight into the actual contents in the tinted bottle. Walking the aisles of an adult beverage superstore can be daunting with packed rows of dusty bottles. It’s easy to get lost looking for something delicious to drink with dinner and there is rarely anyone available to help you decide between the Rioja in your left hand and the Cahors in your right. What are Rioja and Cahors anyway? Anyone seriously interested in wine will have an equally miserable experience at your neighborhood liquor store where the selection of wine is seriously pedestrian and the best thing on the shelf is often a bottle of Jack or Absolute.
The key to becoming an astute wine insider is to develop a relationship with one or two great wine vendors. People you can really trust to learn your preferences and guide you in expanding your palate. Wine lovers tend to congregate and the most daring wine lover becomes a wine purveyor. In Denver, we are lucky to have a few, very passionate wine lovers who have turned their passion for wine into a living. In opening their small but not insignificant wine boutiques, these people honor the process of learning about wine, loving wine, and eventually collecting wine. These daring few pride themselves in seeking out unique, often cutting edge but sometimes classically traditional, beautiful expressions of fermented grape juice from around the world. They hope to cater to the connoisseur, the neophyte, and everyone in between.
I had the good fortune to stumble upon such a store this afternoon. Mon petit ami Jerome and I were enjoying a cool glass of Torrontes and smoky, grilled artichokes at The Tavern on South Gaylord Street when we discovered R & D Wine boutique a few doors down. Clever moniker, R&D means research and development…wine research and development to be exact. Only in business for a year, the shop was brimming with a fun, well thought out, interesting selection. We found an array of wines we love and wines we have yet to try.
After cruising through the domestic whites and Italian reds we landed firmly in the French section and came away with a wonderful, mixed case of six fascinating French wines, perfect for summer sipping:
Château de Ségriès Tavel is a classic Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette and Syrah blend. Tavel is a beautiful, vibrant pink rosé from the Rhône Valley in France with lush notes of ripe raspberry, strawberry, cypress and crushed herbs. It is medium bodied, zesty and crisp. It will be wonderful on a hot summer day paired with salmon sashimi and spring rolls or a fresh lobster salad.
Domaine de Couron Ardèche Rosé is also from the Rhone Valley made from Grenache. It is a bit more rustic in flavor profile but still rich in ripe berries, aromatic Mediterranean herbs, and ruby red cherries. Served with a crisp chill, this wine will stand up to grilled duck breast, pork tenderloin, and smoky grilled zucchini and asparagus.
Domaine des Romarins Côtes du Rhône is an industry standard of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre that is consistently sturdy, deliciously fruity, with just a touch of earthiness to appeal to a broad spectrum of cuisine pairings including grilled meats, charcuterie, and the perennial favorite: pizza, especially hand crafted, home grilled pizza with artichoke hearts, fresh basil, shredded chicken thigh, and pecorino cheese.
Vin de Savoie, Vieilles Vignes Mondeuse from Savoie, France. Wow, this is an obscure, unique, fantastic find. Monduse is an ancient grape, thought to be Refosco in northern Italy. In this case, these 70 year old vines produce a silky wine with notes of plums, black cherries, ripe raspberries, white pepper, and crushed granite. The tannins are well balanced with just the right amount of appetite whetting acidity. This wine is going to love a slightly bitter arugula salad topped with goat cheese or tangy lamb shank.
Vaison, Cave la Romanie, La Romaine, another great wine from the Rhône Valley. This rustic wine is a classic blend of Grenache and Syrah. It is laden with violets, succulent black cherries, and a delicate sprinkle of spice. It also shows a bit of that fantastic Grenache grittiness that fans adore. La Romaine is the perfect late afternoon picnic wine served with slightly salty hard cheese, cured meats, crusty artisanal bread with piquillo and artichoke bruchetta.
Château L’Argentier, Vieilles Vignes de Cinsault from the Languedoc, is another unusual and delectable wine. Cinsault is a dark-skinned grape that is low in tannins with moderate acidity. These wine grapes can also be eaten as table grapes. Cinsault has a flavor profile of light red berries, red flower blossoms, and red plums. It is lively and fresh and light enough to pair with smoked oysters and salmon but sturdy enough to be served with Moroccan lamb and couscous.
Owned and operated by Jesse Bopp, Nicole Moore, John and Kim Reker: four business professionals with a penchant for wine who finally decided to combine their passion for researching wine with their developed business acumen under the umbrella of R&D wines.
Hours 12-10 Monday through Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday, 1080 South Gaylord Street, Denver, CO 80209.
Simone FM Spinner, CWS, CWE is a wine educator, sommelier, and passionate wine & food lover. She is an affiliate professor at Metro State University teaching wine classes. Simone is also a graduate student at UC Denver studying the aesthetics of wine. She is looking forward to Chasing Grapes and sharing her experiences with you-Salut!.