I always favor the ripe and rustic flavors of a good Rhone red, so it's no wonder I loved this 2004 bottle of Famille Lignères Las Vals Rouge from a bit farther to the southwest, in the Languedoc-Roussillon village of Fontcouverte.

Grown in a valley in the shadow of a Roman fort, this wine - 95 percent mourvèdre, with a touch of syrah - delivers a burst of concentrated dark berry fruit followed by intriguing flavor waves of smoke, Dutch cocoa, mint, and even a little cracked-pepper spice. The tannins are now soft and balanced - and perfectly ready to drink. At a significant discount in Pennsylvania ($16 off the $28.99 list), it's also a great bargain to lend a taste of southern France to the meaty summer grill.

- Craig LaBan
Famille Lignères Las Vals Rouge 2004, $12.99, available in Pennsylvania (code: 18389) at select Premium Collection stores.