Chateau Grande Cassagne "G.S." 2003 Costières de Nîmes ($11.99)
This is a very dark-garnet wine, black at the center. Its rich, warm aromas of cherry and raspberry are so fruit-forward as to seem almost "grapey," with a whack of raw new oak. Just as big and ripe on the palate, it's a bit of a "fruit-bomb," although there's plenty of acidity and an edge of drying tannins to back it up. The torrid summer of '03 fostered an over-the-top, jammy wine with a distinct California accent, a wine that seems almost consciously manipulated as a ratings-point grabber. A blend of Grenache and Syrah (thus the "G.S."), it likely drew raves from Parker and Wine Spectator, and it's an imposing wine if you like 'em in this style; but it's very atypical of the Rhône. US Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (Mar 23, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Needs robust, hearty fare; it's fine with leftover braised lamb shanks.

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