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Wine Review: A toast to the greats

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The wine industry, like every one of man’s endeavors, has its greats.

In the United States, it was Robert Mondavi who advanced California winemaking to its current world-renowned position. In France, it was Baron Philippe de Rothschild who made Bordeaux wine the world’s standard for cabernet sauvignon. In Italy, it was Baron Bettino Ricasoli who developed chianti and the wine styles of Tuscany. In Germany, it was Dr. H. Thanisch who set the standards for riesling wines.

Today, there are still some great names pushing the industry forward.

Among them Barton & Guestier, a trusted French wine negociant. A negociant is a wine merchant who buys wine from smaller growers and winemakers and then bottles them under their own label.

Many of the vineyards Barton & Guestier represent are too small to have a bottling line and often do have winemaking equipment. There are even some growers who sell the raw grape juice to Barton & Guestier, which also has a winemaking plant. It is exactly the same thing E. & J. Gallo Winery has done in this country for years, and just like Gallo, Barton & Guestier takes great pride in the wines they put out or represent.

Barton & Guestier 2014 Bordeaux ($12)
This wine is a fantastic and affordable primer for those who are not familiar with the French Bordeaux style of red wines. While this wine is a familiar blend of 60 percent merlot and 40 percent cabernet savignon, the first sip will tell you it is not a Californian. Even though the grapes are similar to those used for California wines, this selection’s Bordeaux birthplace infuses its own individual nuances. This wine offers the traditional Bordeaux signature flavor and aroma of red and black currants, berries that are not widely grown in the United States and can best be described as having the flavor of a combination of cranberries, raspberries and pomegranates. It also has the other Bordeaux signature of oak.

Barton & Guestier 2015 Cotes De Provence Rose ($15)
The Cotes De Provence has been famed for centuries for its incredible rose wines. The beverage displays a bright salmon-pink color and opens with the aroma of fresh citrus followed by a flavor of light-colored fruits and an intense red berry and spice. Served chilled, it is the perfect wine to be enjoyed outdoors or as the accompaniment to a quiet romantic dinner.

Barton & Guestier La Villa Barton 2014 Cotes De Provence Rose ($20)
This is another Cote de Provence rose, but this one is a bit more upscale. The grapes for this wine come from vineyards in the area around the famous French Mediterranean resort town of Saint-Tropez. Lucky for us, all of the La Villa Barton was not consumed by the visitors to Saint-Tropez and some of it managed to slip by the revelers and found its way here. This is a big wine that displays all of the charm and beauty as only a rose from Cote de Provence can. Made in the traditional style from grenache, syrah and cinsault, this wine lifts the occasionally mundane and uninteresting rose style to new heights of enjoyment. The aromas of red berries are the most prominent and are backed up by fresh flowers. The flavor is a riot of red berries and citrus ending in a finish that is soft and creamy.

Nixa resident Bennet Bodenstein is a wine columnist and manages Facebook.com/ArticlesOnWine. He can be reached at ben@articlesonwine.com.

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