This is another in a series of posts regarding good or great wines to be found in restaurants for $30 or less.
Oriel is an interesting brand in that there is not one winery or one wine maker.
The brand is based on the concept of employing European rock-star winemakers (primarily) in the creation of a stand-alone brand allowing them to be more expressive in their product.
Oriel Courant is a prime example. It is a Syrah and Grenache blend sourced in 2003 and 2004 from grapes exclusively from old (40 year old plus) vines in Cotes du Rhone, France.
My impression: Intensely flavorful with ripe plum, tar and chocolate notes. The plum is very noticeable on the nose and the sip ends with a moderate finish (that is perhaps why the price is so reasonable, as great Cotes du Rhone have huge, long finishes that go on forever). At the restaurant we recommended this wine alongside our Fillet of Bison - it takes a powerful wine to stand up to Bison. At $28 per bottle (restaurant price) it is a very reasonable Cotes du Rhone. If you find it, give it 30 minutes or more in the glass before you drink it. It really benefits from some time outside the bottle before drinking. In fact, if you have any left over it is better on the second day than it is on the first.