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(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) A nice mix. Almost everyone I know approaches new music the same way: we get on kicks where we find a new band, or a new sound that fascinates us. We learn as much as we can and sample any and all releases that are related. I tend to approach wines the same way. When I'm not matching a particular dish, I tend to explore wines from a single region, varietal or style until I get bored enough to seek out the next thing. Earlier this Fall I was on a Rhône valley kick. This region in the southeast of France (just north of Provence) is known for the diversity of its grape varieties which are blended in a bunch of different ways to make Côtes du Rhône, Côtes Rôtie, Crozes Hermitage, Gigondas, Châteauneuf du Pape and a whole lot more. Most Côtes du Rhône makers mix Grenache with Syrah and Carignan or Mourvèdre to yield easy drinking, food-friendly wines with lots of herbal and spice notes. They are not built to age the way Bordeauxs and Burgundies are, but most will improve with several years in the bottle. 2008 Domaine Sainte-Anne Côtes du Rhône Villages (About $16) Learn more about the winery: http://www.chateauneuf.dk/gervais/en/geren4.htm Learn more about the bottle in front of me: Link not available, but George over at Gang of pour has liked this one in the past. http://blogs.gangofpour.com/2007-domaine-sainte-anne SEE: A beautiful bright medium red, turning slightly rosy at the edge. SWIRL: The wine coats the glass nicely, with tiny, evenly spaced legs. SMELL: Right out of the bottle, this is tight, with a nose of red berries and citrus/grapefruit. It opens to reveal holiday spices, dried fruits, cedar, and a forest full of woody herbs. SIP: Tannic, tart and warm on the tongue, with cranberry and a touch of bitter orange. SAVOR: With time in the glass and a suitable meal, the flavors deepen and soften, ending in a moderately long cocoa finish. Final impression: A nice, balanced southern Rhône, with the complex spice flavors and aromas typical of the region. Classic old world French (built for food). Pair with: Quite nice with grilled lamb loin chops and roasted herbed potatoes. It might possibly pair better with a Christmas goose, with roasted garlic or braised leeks.