I wanted to take a moment and fill everyone in on a gem I’ve found from a country that holds a little significance in the wine world, France. If one is at all familiar with Bordeaux, they know that finding a Graves for under $20 is rare, and, even more rare is finding one under $20 that is actually delicious. Whether you are an old-time Bordeaux fan looking for some real value or are simply interested in getting to know the region, the 2011 Chateau de Callac Graves Rouge is a wine you can’t pass up.

It was a routine Wednesday afternoon at Gentile’s, putting up orders, placing them, making undeniably bad jokes, wooing customers, and drinking too much coffee… the usual. One of my reps came in to take his order and asked me if I wanted to try this nice Bordeaux that had been a sleeper in his book simply from lack of attention. Perhaps I rolled my eyes subconsciously, but he immediately spoke up, saying, “No, no, you REALLY should try this wine.” I am sure I visibly rolled my eyes at this point. Very well… I got out the glasses and the spit bucket and insisted that my cohort, Ryan, should try it as well. I must admit I may have been planning sabotage because Ryan really does not prefer wine typically, as his area of expertise lies in the homebrew and beer section. Normally, a Ryan Bell reaction to wine would be a bored shrug, saying that it “tastes like grapes.” I figured a chuckle might be in order as he tried the stuff. Anyhow, the wine was poured and tasted, all the while with my eye on Ryan. I don't know if I hid my surprise as his eyes lit up a bit, his lips pursed into a small grin, and he exclaimed, “Huh! I might actually buy that.” That might not sound like much to you, but it was the highest of praise to my ears and I fully agreed with him. Now, to the wine itself.

The 2011 Chateau de Callac is comprised of 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc and is considered the entry level wine of the chateau, surprisingly enough. First impressions of the wine, even before looking at the deep violet color, are the intense aromatics that seem like they could fill a room. To be sure, this is the epitome of Old World wine, with notes of cedar, anise, smoke, and chocolate coming to the forefront before the fruit even becomes a player. The palate is soft and lush with a light tannin in the background that sets the stage for a lively wild raspberry aspect. There is plenty to dissect here and a good bit of complexity for its meager price point, but most of all, it is delicious. Mary and I enjoyed it with a grilled peppercorn pork tenderloin and it was superb!

Here is was The Wine Enthusiast has to say (and they had it priced at $20+!): A smooth, perfumed wine that has softened just in time for its fifth year. It has black-currant and berry fruits that are ripe while still showing fresh acidity. The tannic structure is there, well integrated into the polished structure. Drinkable now.

The 2011 Chateau de Callac retails for $11.99 and is a complete no brainer as a daily dinner wine. I recommend buying it by the case that includes a 10% discount for $129.50 plus tax. You will not regret it.

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