Technically named Department 66, this offering from David Phinney, who produces a number of high quality wines under the Orin Swift umbrella, is one of the best bang for the buck wines on the market today. If you are a fan of big, bold and powerful reds, this beauty offers rich and inky dark blackberry, plum and blueberry fruit with notes of vanilla, violets, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, espresso, black olives, leather, baking spice and a touch of oak. Consisting of 80% Grenache, 12% Syrah and 8% Carignan, you would swear that this has to be a plump and ripe California blend. To the contrary, this comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Very aromatic on the nose and smooth as silk on the palate, its 15.2% alcohol and all the trimmings are balanced from start to an extended long finish. Cellarable for 10 years or more, you’ll be hard pressed not to fall in love with this luscious beast as I have every time I open a new or older vintage.

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