"This wine will make you think of a basket of ripe red fruit ripened in the sun," wrote SDG Selections, the group that makes Domaine la Monardiere and other fine French wines available to U.S. importers. I couldn't say it better myself. Les Calades is the least expensive of three Vacqueyras wines produced by Christian and Martine Vache. Price is the main reason I buy it, but I'm never disappointed in what I get for that price. I know that if I ever tried the other, more expensive, bottlings, I would be hopelessly hooked.
It's a dark, dusty maroon color, a la Vacqueyras. The sun-ripened quality comes right at you from the first sniff. Ripe, almost raisined, red berries and cherries supported by lusty black licorice, Kirsch and Vacqueyras minerals. Actually, the palate is even stronger than the nose in these forward fruit qualities. It cries out for a rich tomato/mushroom sauce. Typical of 2003 Rhones, this Vacqueyras is ripe to a fault but this manifests itself as a lush, raisined quality rather than alcoholic heat. Chateau Rayas fans would love it! With its funky black licorice tones, it's 100 percent Vacqueyras and lovely in spite of the 2003 vintage. No hard edges and a long finish. I haven't been so happy since my last bottle of Les Calades.