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Wine of the week: Little James' Basket Press, Vin du Table, Chateau de Saint Cosme, France

The playful name is truth in advertising. This is an easy red wine, simply made and enjoyed. If the sketches on the label don't amuse you, the jovial taste and the affordable price for a quality Rhone will. It's thick red, full body, sweet cherries and bits of licorice. Good and plenty nose, and flavor with a friendly finish.

It's all grenache grapes, but the maker is one of the smartest of the new generations in the southern Rhone river valley, known for his Chateauneuf-du-Pape and especially the Gigondas made in his home town for millenniums.

Because the grapes do come from the Rhone and other parts of southern France, it's officially a table wine, good for bistros to pour generously without fuss. I've seen it on smart wine lists in casual U.S. restaurants for $20.

(Bias warning: I met little James, the namesake, a few years ago, playing in an inflatable pool next to the farmhouse and ruins of the Roman cellar where dad, Louis Barruol, makes the good stuff. Still, the wine makes me smile as much as the memory.)

For any summer party or barbecue, burgers or T-bone, this is child's play.

Availability: $8 to $11, wine shops and better liquor stores.

Wine of the week: Little James' Basket Press, Vin du Table, Chateau de Saint Cosme, France 07/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 9:05am]

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