"Don't listen to the story. Listen to the wine."
This nugget of wisdom, imparted on me by one of the top wine professionals in Texas, has rung true as I've tasted through a mixed case of wine assembled for me by the legendary Bear Dalton, fine wine buyer at Spec's.
I had asked Bear to select 12 under-$25 bottles that would nudge me out of my comfort zone and get me to think outside my box. And I've made a point of tasting the wine without doing my due diligence beforehand so that I don't come to the tasting table with any pre-conceived notions that might cloud my impressions.
Not all the wines have wowed me (and I've written about the ones that I like here). As the Latins used to say, de gustibus non est disputandum (in other words, taste is always subjective).
But, man, this Château de Saint Cosme 2009 Côtes du Rhône Deux Albion really knocked it out of the park for me. From the first whiff, the wine revealed the wonderful "bacon fat" aroma that classic Syrah often delivers. And in the mouth, that saltiness and meaty, unctuous character, worked like magic with the brilliant (and very forward) fruit flavors of the wine. It was like slathering savory strawberry jelly on roast pork belly and then letting them dance together in my mouth (that sounds kinda naughty doesn't it?).
Of course, I couldn't help myself from Googling the wine and was thrilled to discover that it actually weighs in at less than $20.
That's why I'm recommending it as my Fourth of July pick. Not only does it deliver in terms of price, but its extreme approachability will make it a crowd pleaser among both the wine-enlightened and those folks who just want a delicious, refreshing red wine to pair with their Fourth of July burgers (I'l be chilling a bottle for our family celebration and I recommend you do the same).
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The search engine results also revealed that the Château de Saint Cosme has one of the best and most informative websites I've encountered in the world of French wine (where government officials are considering a ban on social media marketing of wine).
But then again, I shouldn't have been surprised. After letting the wine speak for itself, I should have imagined that the people who made it care as much as about sharing their story as they do about their excellent, value-driven wine.
My recommendation? Run don't walk.
Happy (and safe) Fourth, y'all!