Domaine Lafond 2004 "Roc-Epine" Côtes du Rhône ($14.00)
I'm enjoying the return of a good, typical vintage in much of Europe after the wacky, fruit-forward and oversize wines that were all too common in the record-heat year of 2003. This modest table wine offers a lovely example: There's plenty of fruit, but it's well-structured with acidity and tannin in a balanced, food-friendly wine that takes me back in memory to years long past, discovering cheap but hearty Rhone reds served by the pitcher in Paris sidewalk cafés. Dark ruby in color with glints of reddish-orange, it offers classic Côtes du Rhône aromas of peppery cherry-berry fruit. Mouth-filling flavors follow the nose, juicy fruit shaped by tart acidity and substantial tannins. US Importer: Wines of France Inc., Mountainside, N.J. (Mar 11, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Red meat is a natural companion, and it went very well with pan-seared flatiron steaks scented with garlic and lots of black pepper. Yes, it will be just fine with St. Patrick's Day corned beef, too.

WEB LINK: http://www.roc-epine.com/

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com

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