My reaction to the first sip was “Wow!” – for just that reason (and because, in my notes, wow stands for a possible wine of the week). The Janasse ($15, purchased, 15%) is a red blend from the Rhone in France, but with some very un-Rhone-like merlot added to syrah and grenache. I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on here, but I didn’t need to understand to enjoy it.
This is an earthy and fruity wine (black cherries?), if not especially complicated, and another example of the fine values that are available from the Rhone. It’s an end of the summer barbecue wine, perfect for the porch.
And don’t worry about that 15 percent alcohol level; frankly, I don't believe it (though 2009 was a very warm vintage in the Rhone). The wine wasn’t hot or overdone in the way that so many California 15 percenters are, and I only realized it was so high in alcohol when I did my notes.