Let me start off this review by saying how proud I am of Derek. When I met him in a wine store a few years ago his knowledge of wine was maybe a little above average. Now I find myself listening to him speak to wine store clerks with the admiration of a doting mother. I beam when he shows me the selections he has brought home like a proud teacher.

Derek recently discovered that he really likes Mourvedre. This is great for me, not just because I too love Mourvedre, but because I have been trying to sell Derek on a trip to Southern France forever.

He has never seemed as interested as when I told him that Bandol is by far the pinnacle of Mourvedre winemaking. And that it looks like this:

Is it merely coincidence that some of the most beautiful places in the world have some of the most amazing wines? Is it because people who want to cultivate grapes and make wine appreciate aesthetics more than most people? Or does God just want us to be happy and knows that combining a wine like Bandol with a Mediterranean seaside town is just a really, really awesome thing to do?

But, I digress, the wine in question here is not from Bandol, but from Californ-I-A. From the beautiful area of Monterey to be exact. Richard Graff was the winemaker at Chalone Winery until his untimely death in 1998. Graff Family Vineyards is a part of The Woodward-Graff Foundation which donates a portion of the proceeds from their wine sales to a wine industry scholarship in Graff's name. This 2006 Chalone Mourvedre is a great find and an amazing deal at only $20. Elegant and velvety with blackberry fruit and notes of cocoa and espresso, the wine is also earthy and smokey with notes of tobacco and meat. It's pretty much the rock n' roll of wines. It is all at once sexy and dark and luscious and smooth and just a little bit fruity. Like Robert Plant shimmying across the stage.