Looking for a great French red wine?  Look no further.  The 2005 Chateau Valcombe from Côtes du Ventoux is one of those full-flavored but smooth wines that comes around all too infrequently.  It's very adaptable, great with a meal but complex enough to stand up on its own.

I tried the 2005 Chateau Valcome at a great Alsatian restaurant in my new neighborhood, New York City's Upper East Side.  If you've never been to an Alsatian restaurant (and how many can there be?), think of a place where France and Germany meet and fall in love over steak frites and wienerschnitzel.  In true French fashion, the restaurant, Cafe D'Alsace, loves its beverages, and boasts a sommelier that knows a lot about both beer and wine.  The restaurant also stays true to its casual, bistro vibe, offering plenty of great wine options at reasonable prices.

The 2005 Chateau Valcome boasts a unique cuvee: 60% Grenache Noir, 20% Carignan, 10% Syrah and 10% Cinsault.  The average age of the vines these grapes come from is 60 years.  Old vines produce less fruit, but concentration and complexity to what they do produce, meaning that vineyards who cultivate vines like these sacrifice quantity for quality.  (And for us drinkers, this is a very good thing.)

Ventoux was recently upgraded to an AOC, and its wines are always some of the best deals in the southern Rhône.  So try this one, or one similar, and have a great bottle on hand perfect for those times when friends drop in by surprise.