Mas de Guiot Vin de Pays du Gard 2009: The wine begins with aromas of cherries, strawberries, anise, and a hint of cocoa powder. The palate follows with rich, liqueuer-like red fruit flavors and a mild, pleasant note of sweet tobacco. At the finish, notes of Indian spice emerge. For $12 this offers a lot of complexity and exotic character. Sylvia and François Cornut produce this charmer from vineyards near St. Gilles in Costières de Nîmes. The wine is labeled "Vin de Pays du Gard" because the Cornuts insist on putting the grape names on the label (in this instance, 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache.) They also grow Cabernet, and blend it with Syrah to good effect; the Alex cuvee is worth seeking out.
Château Saint Roch Chimères Côtes du Roussillon 2007: This has already received a rave from The Wine Advocate, which you can read here. I have little to add, except to point out that this is yet another very good production from Jean-Marc Lafage, who first came to my attention as the winemaker behind Eric Solomon's famous Las Rocas Garnacha, and now seems to be everywhere in Catalonia, making wine under his own name and the "Cote Est/Cote Sud" and "Novellum" names. And he is still active with Solomon, producing Evodia, which is sort of a successor to the "Las Rocas" project. He has become a force to be reckoned with in Roussillon, not yet on a par with Gerard Gauby, but just wait…anyway, it's always amusing to point out that Lafage's resume includes a stint with Ernest & Julio.