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ad libitumShould we call it the new dispensation? Perhaps that’s too grand, but there is a rising appreciation for wines with a kind of complexity not derived from oak. I’m sure the pendulum will swing back but I’m enjoying the liveliness, crystalline flare, and steely nerve of some of the unoaked wines I’ve been tasting. It is no longer true that a serious red wine must be oaked and of course there is the additional benefit that wines that can be sold more cheaply if wineries can forgo the expense of new oak.

This blend of Gamay, Cot (aka Malbec) and Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley is a compelling example.

Densely packed aromas of bright, focused, fresh red berry, lovely earth poised between mushroom and forest floor, gentle baking spice, and floral notes give the wine an occult spirit, its lush life beset by sharpened secrets.

Cranberry melds with rosemary on this mouthwatering, active palate. Medium bodied with a midpalate crescendo featuring mineral top notes and plenty of acid cut, the wine rides a swift current from fruit to stone to spice anchored by a firm but lissome texture. There is no grip or dryness from the tannins but you feel their presence. The finish is lengthy enough but lacks a bit of fruit power, driven instead by peppery tannins and stony top notes.

A wine of deceptive depth, more ecstatic than cheerful, earthy, its pace rousing and provocative yet lyrical and composed. A beauty bobbing on a wave of expectation like Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting

Technical notes: A long maceration for the Cot and Cab France, 15-20 days, aged for 5 months in cement. Organic grapes.

Score: 93

Price: $22

Alc: 13.5%