Mas Neuf 2001 "Compostelle" Costieres de Nimes ($9.99)
A blend of Syrah and Grenache in roughly 2-to-1 proportions, this robust red from Nimes, where the Languedoc meets the Rhone, is very dark garnet in color. It breathes shy but intriguing aromas of black cherries with hints of herbs (fennel) and spice (cloves and pepper). There's a lot of depth here, but it's tight and closed at first, needing swirling and coaxing to bring out ripe black fruit flavors from behind a wall of warm tannins and sharp acidity. Should benefit from a cellar stay; if you want to drink it now, sear a ration of red meat to accompany it, and allow plenty of breathing time. US Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Nov 2, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Red meat is called for, or possibly sharp Cheddar. Juicy medium-rare lamb burgers with plenty of onions and spiced with black pepper and cumin helped bring it around for us.



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